The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is taken by more than 3.5 million test-takers per year. It is by far the most recognized test in Anglophone countries for academic, visa/citizenship, and professional purposes.
There is a wide range of reasons why people take their IELTS exam seriously:
- 100% of universities in the UK and Australia accept IELTS results for entrance.
- 10,000+ organizations worldwide view IELTS as the official indicator of English communication ability.
- IELTS is an important requirement for many expats, international students, and foreign workers before they head overseas or move to a new country.
IELTS has 1600+ test centers in more than 140 countries and territories. And, even if you do not happen to have a test center close by, IELTS can also securely be taken online.
The only potential limitation to your IELTS result is your preparation. If you want to get your best score possible on this difficult exam, it’s important to take the time beforehand and fully prepare yourself.
One of the best ways to prepare for IELTS is by acquiring knowledge from a reputable online IELTS class. That is why in this blog post, we will review five of the best IELTS courses available online. We’ll talk about their pros and cons as well as what makes them so effective at preparing you for IELTS.
These are currently the five best online IELTS courses.
Best IELT Courses
Best Overall Course: Understanding IELTS (FutureLearn & The British Council)
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“Understanding IELTS” is an online IELTS preparation ExpertTrack led by The British Council in collaboration with the UK-based learning platform FutureLearn. The British Council is an organization that helps bring UK culture around the world and it’s actively involved in developing and managing the IELTS exam. This means that by enrolling in this course, you’ll be learning about the IELTS exam from the experts who manage it.
Students who put in three hours of study time per week will finish “Understanding IELTS” in about three months on average. Keep in mind that three hours per week is a small commitment, and the course can be completed in much less time if you double or triple the number of weekly hours you put into it. Doing so would also reduce the number of monthly payments you have to make for the course, thus improving the cost-effectiveness even more.
As for the syllabus, the course is split into four three-week parts. These four parts correspond with the four IELTS papers in the exam: writing, listening, speaking, and reading. Besides improving your band scores in these four parts, you can also expect to get:
- Information on the assessment criteria. In this course, you’ll learn exactly how IELTS examiners calculate your scores.
- IELTS exam techniques. By mastering these techniques, you can tackle a variety of common test questions.
- Gain access to practice tests. You can use these practice tests to practice for the real exam. By doing so you’ll be using active recall, one of the most effective study methods, to prepare for the IELTS.
The syllabus of this IELTS preparation class is easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly, and affordable. If you dedicate yourself fully to mastering the learning materials in this course, hitting a band score of 8 or more is entirely within your reach.
All things considered, it is easy to see how this course has become one of the most popular online IELTS courses. It’s well put together, comprehensive, and it helps students improve their IELTS exam scores better than any other course. That is why we recommend it as the best online IELTS course for the majority of students.
IELTS Prep & Practice (Magoosh Online)
Next up, we have “IELTS Prep & Practice” from Magoosh, one of the most comprehensive online IELTS preparation courses available. It is an expert-taught course suited both for students looking to do the IELTS Academic Test or the IELTS General Test.
Before enrolling, you are acquired to choose between the two learning pathways – Academic or General. From there, you will get access to 125+ lessons and 600+ questions. All of the aforementioned materials are constantly updated by carefully analyzing all the pitfalls and breakthroughs of IELTS test takers. So, whenever or wherever you are planning on taking an IELTS Test, the materials in this course will be relevant.
This Magoosh course has other unique strengths going for it as well. Let’s list some of them. For one, the class comes with individual access to the tutors. In practice, this means that you can contact the tutors via e-mail and get personalized feedback for your current learning journey. Every IELTS test taker comes from a different background, country, or skill level. Individualized feedback ensures that each student gets the approach most suited to them.
It is also worth pointing out that this class comes with a full money-back guarantee for people who have already taken an IELTS Test. If you do not improve on your overall band score by +0.5 points, you are eligible for a full refund.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation (edX)
“IELTS Academic Test Preparation” is our choice for the best online IELTS preparation course on edX. It is an 8-week course that is specifically designed for students looking to take the IELTS Academic Test.
The class is presented by English teaching professionals from The University of Queensland, one of the top 50 universities worldwide. These tutors have extensive experience with helping students reach their goal of passing an IELTS Academic Test and enrolling in a university where English is the primary language.
The syllabus is broken down into 4 modules. Each of these modules is dedicated to a specific part of language skills- reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each module also comes with techniques, strategies, and tips for maximizing your understanding of the materials taught.
It is worth mentioning, that for an IELTS Academic test preparation course, I found the class surprisingly engaging. The practice activities that seemed frightening at first eventually became almost addictive. Plus, a significant part of this edX class is interactive. For example, you will get to view videos of other students practicing for the IELTS. Of course, you will also get to provide and receive feedback. Even if this sounds intimidating, it will ultimately improve your confidence for taking the IELTS Test. And, as all the experts say, approaching the IELTS Test with the right frame of mind is at least as important as having a head full of grammar and pronunciation rules.
All in all, for a student looking for a comprehensive and interactive IELTS Academic Test preparation course, this class is another one of the best options out there.
IELTS Preparation Specialization (Coursera)
We have consistently ranked Coursera as one of the very best MOOC providers currently operating. Thus, it is only natural that we will also be looking at what their “IELTS Preparation Specialization” has to offer.
The class is presented by the University of California, Irvine. UCI is consistently rated as one of the top “public ivies” (a public university providing Ivy League-level education).
The full specialization is broken down into 3 separate courses – writing, listening/speaking, reading. Completing all the courses will take students approximately 3 months.
If you are familiar with Coursera online courses, you know that the specializations come with applied learning projects. In this context, applied learning means assessments. In these assessments, students will test their knowledge of the IELTS format/structure, test-taking strategies, and types of questions asked in the IELTS Test.
IELTS Band 7+ Complete Prep Course (Udemy)
“IELTS Band 7+ Complete Prep Course” is the best Udemy class on IELTS preparation. It is an 80-hour course presented by Keino Campbell, an Udemy MVP in exam preparation. In 2018, Campbell was chosen as the top-rated Udemy instructor in the exam preparation field. In the same year, he was also chosen as one of the most engaging instructors on the learning platform. This is great news for people who need to have a few laughs and a lighthearted atmosphere to get the most out of their online learning experience.
The class itself is not as rigid in structure as the rest of the courses in this list. Sure, if you have never taken an IELTS Test before, I suggest not skipping a single part. However, if you are already somewhat familiar with the general structure and requirements of an IELTS exam, this is an ideal course for focusing only on areas that you struggle with.
Don’t worry, you do not need to figure anything out on your own. The instructor has provided detailed guidelines on how students should select the parts most relevant to their learning needs.
The somewhat loose structure and the relaxed feel of the class will certainly be helpful to a lot of people looking to nail the IELTS General Test. So, bonus points for that. Still, I would hesitate to advise it for an audience preparing to take the IELTS Academic Test. For such purposes, choosing a course focused specifically on the Academic Test would suffice much better.
Online IELTS Course FAQs
Here are quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about IELTS.
What is the IELTS scoring system like?
The scoring system IELTS Test uses is relatively straightforward. Your English communication abilities will be graded via various tests. After completing all of these tests, you will receive a score from 0 to 9. This is the final result (“band score”) that represents your knowledge of the English language. Generally speaking, a band score of 7 will be good enough for most international universities, while a band score of 7.5 will be accepted even among Oxbridge and Ivy League institutions.
To get a more specific idea of how the IELTS grading system works, have a look at this explanatory video from Magoosh IELTS:
What is the difference between the IELTS General and Academic Test?
The main differences lie in the Writing and Reading tests. In these parts of the test, the IELTS General is focused (as the name of the test implies) on topics of general interest. In the Academic Test, the Writing and Reading parts are a bit more specific, focusing more on academic and professional topics.
Is an online IELTS preparation course worth it?
Taking an online IELTS preparation course is very much worth it for anyone looking to achieve a Band Score of at least 6. While you might be confident in your English ability, IELTS is a bit trickier than your average high school English class. To get an exact idea of what the IELTS assessment criteria is like, taking a professional IELTS preparation course would be preferred.
How long are online IELTS preparation courses?
Generally speaking, a good IELTS Test preparation course will take 2-3 months to finish. In addition to refining your general English skills, the best online IELTS Test preparation courses also cover topics like pre-test nervousness, reading techniques, and self-confidence building tips. And, if you want to achieve a great Band Score, all of these little things will come in handy.