5 Best IELTS Practice Tests for International Students

Students studying at a library table with open books, pens, and a laptop, representing IELTS practice tests.

To study abroad, many international students will have to complete an English proficiency exam. This helps to ensure you’re prepared to live and study in English-speaking countries. One of the most widely accepted types of proficiency exam is the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test. It’s always important to use different methods to improve your English language skills. That said, one of the best ways to prepare for your exam is using online IELTS preparation materials for paid or free IELTS practice exams or mock IELTS tests.

Studying for a test like IELTS can be intimidating. If you search online, you’ll find a million different prep strategies, and it’s hard to know what’s the most effective approach. IELTS practice tests can help you learn the format of the exam and calm your nerves. It’ll also help you understand how you react to pressure, and show you where you need more practice. After all, practice makes perfect!

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To get started, here are five of the best paid and free IELTS exam practice tests for international students:

An illustration of a laptop showing several boxes and checkmarks on its screen, representing online IELTS preparation.

1. IELTS Prepare (Free)

IELTS Prepare is an online resource offered by IDP Education. IDP is an international education organization and one of the three owners of IELTS (along with the British Council and Cambridge Assessment English). So, you can feel confident the information they provide is current and helpful.

This website is a helpful resource for future international students, and also includes online courses, articles, videos, and information on test locations and preparation. IDP also provides free practice IELTS tests. However, because IELTS Prepare also offers premium, paid test prep, if you’re looking for the free IELTS practice tests, be sure to click the right links. Practice tests are available in an online or printable format. Don’t forget to check the answer key after you’ve done the test to grade your work!

An illustration of speech bubbles, representing the verbal portion of free IELTS practice exam.

2. IELTS Ready (Free)

The British Council is an organization specializing in international cultural and educational opportunities, and one of the other owners of IELTS. Once you register for IELTS with the British Council, you’ll have free access to their “IELTS Ready” preparation course, the most popular IELTS prep course. It provides comprehensive support, from sample videos and teacher tutorials to timed practice tests. Keep track of your progress in your personalized My Progress section, or use their score calculator or test countdown tool to make your practice feel real. You’ll benefit from over 90 interactive activities, and can read advice from British Council teachers who know the IELTS process well.

The above version of the course is free once you register (a more compact version is available for Academic and General Training IELTS tests without registration). If you’re looking for more test prep content, three paid versions of the course are available on IELTS Practice.

An illustration of a laptop, representing online IELTS preparation.

3. Computer-Delivered IELTS Practice Tests (Free)

International Education Specialists (IDP) and IELTS offers computer-delivered tests as an option for the listening, reading, and writing portions of the IELTS exam. These are free online IELTS mock tests, offered by IELTS themselves. Often, computer-delivered exams have more test date availability, and a more efficient results-processing period. (You’ll always complete the speaking part of your exam in-person.)

While the content of the computer-delivered IELTS test is identical to the paper-based test, the style is different, and can feel strange to students who haven’t taken a test online before. These practice IELTS tests, direct from the test makers, let you experience what a computer-delivered test is like. They also include a downloadable practice test answer key.

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4. IELTS.org Practice Test – USA (Free)

If you’re planning to take your IELTS test to study in the United States, check the link above for free resources. Don’t panic when you see six test categories on the practice test page! Remember, there are two types of IELTS test:

  • IELTS General Training: gauges everyday English skills in work and social environments
  • IELTS Academic: assesses if you’re ready to study in an English-speaking institution

Most post-secondary institutions will ask incoming students to take the IELTS Academic version. So, make sure you select the “Academic Reading” and “Academic Writing” practice options. That said, if you want bonus practice, you could also try the “General Training Reading” and “General Training Writing” practice exams.

(Studying elsewhere? This site also has lots of free sample IELTS test questions for all test takers.)

An illustration of a pile of books.

5. Cambridge IELTS Academic Student’s Book or General Student’s Book (GBP 38.00 or C$65.10 each):

If you’re more comfortable learning from a book, this option may be right for you! These two textbooks were created by Cambridge Assessment English, the third owner of IELTS.

These books have details on each section of the test and its scoring system. They also include four authentic exam papers that read just like the real thing. Plus, they’re yours to keep. So, if you think you might need to take the IELTS more than once, this might be a better choice than paying for the Road to IELTS course, which you can only access for a limited time.

These books come with answer keys, downloadable audio for the Listening test, example Speaking test videos, sample writing answers, and more, so you can prepare effectively for all parts of the IELTS test.

Many members of the ApplyBoard team were international students, too. So, we’re sharing their best tips to help you boost your scores in the IELTS Speaking, IELTS Reading, IELTS Writing, and IELTS Listening sections.

We hope that this overview of online IELTS preparation materials help you prepare for your English proficiency exam! By using these paid and free IELTS practice exams, you’ll familiarize yourself with the exam format, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately improve your performance. Remember, practice is they key to success. Best of luck on your IELTS journey!

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