IELTS Preparation Book : Review of “The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS”

Even though many books and guides focus on the preparation of the IELTS, the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is the very first book to include different skills people need to learn for the test. The Cambridge Guide to IELTS introduces a set of essential information for both IELTSAcademic and General Training Tests.

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed review of the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS. We share our thoughts and opinions about the guide’s contents, the pros and cons of using this guide, and a few user ratings.

Everything You Need To Know About Cambridge Guide

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Book Guide

Before purchasing and using this IELTS preparation guide, you must know these things about the Cambridge Guide.


Written by Pauline Cullen, Amanda French, and Vanessa Jakeman, The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is an informative resource material when preparing for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Exam.

Book Contents

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS has 398 pages, and its first publication was in 2014 under the Cambridge University Press. This book contains the necessary IELTS content that prepares you for the IELTS Academic and General Training Tests. The guide’s primary goal is to assist people who want to attain a band score of 6.0 or more.

This book’s first pages include a summary of the most general knowledge or information on the IELTS test. It gives you an overview of what the test will contain. In that case, you will have an idea of where to focus during your preparation.

This book has four sections of IELTS skills consisting of reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each part has independent units, focusing on developing and improving each skill.

In the second part of the book, there are eight structured practice exercises with answers for self-assessment. However, there is no need to worry because the first has hints and instructions that you can follow. The answer key and recording scripts file at the latter is beneficial for correcting and checking what you have learned through the tests.

Aside from that, The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS also has video and audio content that you can use through the CD or DVD attached in the book. Nonetheless, you can also find it by downloading an application in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.

Latest Edition Details

The most recent edition of The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is its first edition from 2014. There are no other editions after the first version.

Guide or Books Contents

Here are the contents of The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS:

IELTS Listening Skills

  1. Getting ready to listen
  2. Following a conversation
  3. Recognizing paraphrase
  4. Places and directions
  5. Listening for actions and processes
  6. Attitude and opinion
  7. Following a lecture or talk
  8. Contrasting ideas

IELTS Reading Skills

  1. Reading strategies
  2. Descriptive passages
  3. Understanding main ideas
  4. Locating and matching information
  5. Discursive passages
  6. Multiple-choice questions
  7. Opinions and attitudes
  8. General training reading

IELTS Writing Skills

  1. Academic Writing Task 1 – Describing a chart, table, or graph
  2. Academic Writing Task 1 – Comparing and contrasting tables and graphs
  3. Academic Writing Task 1 – Describing diagrams
  4. Academic Writing Task 1 – Describing maps
  5. General Training Writing Task 1 – A letter
  6. Writing Task 2 – Getting ready to write
  7. Writing Task 2 – Expressing your ideas clearly
  8. Writing Task 3 – Checking and correcting

IELTS Speaking Skills

  1. The Speaking Test – Part 1
  2. Part 2 – Giving a talk
  3. Part 3 – Talking about abstract topics
  4. Part 4 – Checking, correcting, assessing

Practice Tests

  • Practice Test 1 
  • Practice Test 2
  • Practice Test 3
  • Practice Test 4
  • Practice Test 5
  • Practice Test 6
  • Practice Test 7
  • General Practice Test
  • Practice Test 8
  • General Practice Test

Other items in the book:

  • Recording Scripts
  • Answer Key
  • Sample Answer Sheets


You can purchase The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS on Amazon for USD 23 to USD 80, depending on your location.

Book Review: Cambridge Guide

Let us take a closer look at this book’s content. Is it enough for preparing for the IELTS examination? Let us have a brief review.

General overview

The next part provides you with the upside and downside of purchasing The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.


In terms of tasks and activities, this book is one of the most suitable options. Each skill has minor or small tasks that are easy to answer. The length of the practice tests is ideal, and the difficulty is enough. You can take one every week or whenever you want.

Aside from that, each skill also includes specific or sub-skills that are essential for the test. For example, the IELTS Reading Skills section contains different reading strategies for better understanding and comprehension.

In terms of listening skills, there are scripts that you can use to assess yourself. In addition, the speaking skills section has sample videos. You can find the audio and videos on the CD attached to the book, or you can find them easily on YouTube and Soundcloud.


However, there are still some drawbacks to this book. Even though there are many things to learn, it does not specify which band you are studying. Moreover, it does not have enough vocabulary for speaking and writing.

Aside from that, if you are looking for a book for IELTS General Training, this book is not the best option for you. Although it stated on the cover that it includes content for Academic and General Training, it focuses more on the IELTS Academic test. 

If you are strictly preparing for the IELTS General Test, you should perhaps be required to purchase and use other IELTS guides.

User Ratings

To provide more information about The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, here are some ratings from people who have already used this book.


Readers have rated the Cambridge Guide on Goodreads 4.24 out of 5. This book helps people know what type of topics the test will contain, how to solve problems, prepare, and provide answers. It also provides essential guidance and tips for everyone.

However, readers have stated that this book may not apply to advanced readers because the content is too easy for someone advanced. Moreover, it also lacks information for writing and speaking skills.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review GoodReads

The Cambridge Guide got 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon. Readers said that there are many essential tips given, and the practice tests help prepare for the actual examination. They also commended the accompanying CD that contains audio.

Nevertheless, people find this book expensive compared to its content. Additionally, there is not much content for the General Training.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review Amazon 1
The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review Amazon 2
Google Books

There is a 4.6 out of 5 rating of this book on Google Books. The Cambridge guide has detailed lessons and activities about the skills, and there are also tips for self-studying. It also contains a guide to understanding the exam patterns efficiently.

Nevertheless, it is not for General Training. Some readers also found incorrect answers in the book. In this case, you will need to double-check the answer key.

Best Views Reviews

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS got 8.4 out of 10 in the Best Views Reviews. Readers commented that it is easy to use and read, and the book’s quality is enough. However, they also find it pretty expensive.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review BestViewsReviews

Lastly, ratings in UBuy gave the Cambridge Guide is 4.5 out of 5. This book is suitable for people who like studying at their own pace.

If you have high proficiency in English, you can use this book as a guide to studying different practices and formats. However, if you have low capacity, you will need to find another book to assist you. Aside from that, this book is also not advisable for people who want to achieve a band score of 9.0.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review UBuy 1
The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Review UBuy 2

How To Use The Book Effectively to Prepare for Your IELTS Exam?

If you plan on using the Cambridge Guide for preparing for the IELTS, you must know how to use this book effectively. To do that, you may consider these tips below:

  • Learn how the book’s system works because the tasks are upgrading on every skill. You will become confused if you will not understand its content.
  • It will be best to study all units first before proceeding to take the tests. However, you may also focus on one skill first, take the test for it, and move on with the other skills after.
  • Apply the strategies and tips you have learned in the book in real life so that you can remember them better.
  • It will help you if you use a notebook and pen when studying. You may take notes of words and vocabularies you encounter in every lesson and skill.

Final Thoughts

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is an excellent book for IELTS preparation, significantly for those who want to achieve a 6.0 band score and above. There is a lot of information and tips provided in the book that may help you learn English. Other than that, you may also take practice tests that may help you assess your answers.

However, you must remember that this book does not apply to you if you aim for the highest band score possible. You will also need to find other resources since some parts of this book lack information, and you should not depend on this single book entirely. Looking for supplementary reading materials will help you double-check the details of the lessons.

Preparing for the IELTS may be challenging, but having the correct books and guides can help in your journey. What has your experience in studying for the IELTS using the Cambridge Guide? Let us know in the comments below.