IELTS Preparation Book: Review of Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook

Are you someone who wishes to migrate, work, or study in English-speaking countries? Well, increase your chance by taking the IELTS with the help of the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook

This book comprises different interesting topics on speaking, writing, reading, and listening, with specialized sections for grammar and vocabulary.

This article will satisfy your curiosity about this IELTS prep guide. It will present a detailed overview of the book’s content, price, pros, cons, and user ratings. Continue reading to know more!

Everything You Need To Know About Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook

Before getting into the book review, let’s discuss the authors, contents, price, and details about the latest edition of this book. This part gives you an idea of the basic information about this prep guide.

Focus on IELTS Foundation Book or Guide


Sue O’Connell authored the famous Focus book series, including the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook. She is an English language and literature degree holder from the University of Bristol. Moreover, she also has a master’s degree from University College in Dublin.

O’Connell is currently a teacher and trainer in the UK, Greece, Hong Kong, Portugal, and other countries. She is a Cambridge suite exams associate, mainly as an item writer, examiner, and Working Party member for CAE exams. Furthermore, she has already taught and examined IELTS candidates before. 

Aside from the Focus book series, O’Connell also wrote for Cambridge First Certificate Listening and Speaking Skills (CUP).

Book Contents

The Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook has many parts and sections focusing on all core concepts:

It provides a solid ground for the required language and skills in IELTS. Furthermore, it also gives awareness of what might appear in the actual exam.

This book contains numerous exciting topics such as family values, environment, animal rights and wrongs, and sports. Enjoyable and appropriate photos are also present to support the lessons. Moreover, the content is also clear and understandable.

Aside from that, the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook builds a student’s academic language through its Academic Word Study and Vocabulary Builder. The keywords and phrases learned in these sections can contribute to writing and speaking performances.

Practicing your writing skills is also possible with the help of the Writing Practice Bank. You can find many tips on how you can write excellent essays. In addition to that, you can also see graded texts in the book.

If you want to have more solid notes and complete answers to the practice questions, you can choose the Teacher’s Book version. Sue O’Connell has specially made that version with her teacher and examiner experience. 

Latest Edition Available

If you wish to have the latest version of the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook, you can find Focus on IELTS New Edition. The Pearson Education ELS published this edition on May 2, 2010. 

What’s Inside?

Take a look at the official table of contents of the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook to have a clearer idea of the lessons and topics covered in this prep guide.

I. The IELTS Test Overview

1. Read all about it!


  • Introducing reading skills
  • Reading academic texts
  • Summary completion


  • Discussing a topic
  • Expressing a personal opinion


  • Present simple


  • Word families, prepositions, pronunciations, syllables

2. Take Note


  • Letters and sounds 1
  • Introducing listening skills


  • Discussing likes and dislikes


  • Task 1: Reading and describing data
  • Task 2: Paragraphing, linking expressions, and reference links


  • Frequency adverbs and expressions


  • TV programs, word partners: do, give, and make

II. Academic Word Study and Review 1

3. It goes with the job


  • My worst job – Reading skills practice
  • Service workers are the happiest staff – Short-answer questions and sentence completions


  • Discussing jobs and careers
  • Job satisfaction


  • Past simple


  • Word partners, pronunciation, word stress

4. Family values


  • Letters and sounds 2
  • International Friendship Club 


  • Discussing relationships
  • Dealing with difficult questions


  • Task 1: Key skills 
  • Task 2: Paragraphs 


  • Articles


  • Family tree, right and wrong word, word families

III. Academic Word Study and Review 2

5. A sporting chance


  • The Boys of Summer, the Men of Fall
  • The curse of the referee


  • Discussing sports and hobbies
  • Describing a person


  • Present perfect


  • Sports and games, word partners: do, play, and go; pronunciation, word press

6. Animal rights and wrongs


  • Wildlife film festival
  • The right to roam


  • Discussing animals
  • Discussing moral issues


  • Task 2: Presenting and justifying an opinion


  • Review of present tenses
  • Comparison


  • Prepositions, word families, right and wrong words

IV. Academic Word Study and Review 3

7. Appropriate technology


  • Changing lives
  • The price is wrong


  • Discussing places


  • Passive


  • Environment, word families, pronunciation, sounds

8. Communications


  • Mobile phone safety
  • Txt don’t talk


  • Discussing communications
  • Internet activities


  • Task 1: Describing a diagram
  • Task 2: Presenting and justifying an opinion


  • Modal verbs for expressing permission, obligation, and prohibition
  • Numerical comparisons


  • Computer terms

V. Academic Word Study and Review 4

9. Earth matters


  • Stop the smog
  • How children saved the river


  • How green are you?
  • Expressing degrees of agreement


  • Cause and effect
  • -ing v infinitive


  • Word partners, word families, nouns with a general meaning

10. Health check


  • Countdown to a healthier life
  • Milestones of medicine


  • Facts about smoking
  • Discussing medical developments


  • Task 1: Describing data
  • Task 2: Presenting the solution to a problem


  • Quantifiers
  • Comparing and contrasting


  • Healthcare and medicine, prepositions, register

VI. Academic Word Study and Review 5

11. Science of happiness


  • The formula for happiness
  • The pursuit of happiness


  • Discussing future plans
  • Answering difficult questions


  • Present tenses with future references
  • Articles


  • Opposites, word families, expressions with self-

12. Buildings and structures


  • Opera House Tour
  • The Itaipu Dam


  • Discussing buildings
  • Giving supporting examples


  • Describing objects
  • Presenting the solution to a problem


  • Participle clauses
  • Unreal conditionals


  • Materials and structures, pronunciation, sounds

VII. Academic Word Study and Review 6

VIII. Introduction to the Academic Word List

IX. Key Language Bank

X. Writing Practice Bank

XI. Keys

XII. Audio Script


Purchasing this book will not worry you because you can easily find it on Amazon for USD 6.08 to USD 86.62. The costs vary because individual stores offer this prep guide at different prices.

Moreover, please remember that the respective shipping fee may add to your expenses. These fees may also depend on your location and distance from the seller.

Book Review: Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook

After knowing the basic information about this prep guide, we will now move on to the book review. We will analyze if the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook is worth using for the IELTS preparation. 

Is it enough for passing the exam? Will you need another supplementary book? Check out the information below to know more.

General Overview

This prep guide has garnered varying opinions and thoughts from different people. Since no book is perfect, we can find benefits and drawbacks in using this book. Sometimes, the efficacy of books depends on who uses them and how we use them.

With that, this part will present the pros, cons, and user ratings from various sites and platforms. 


The Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook is one of the best prep guides when discussing grammar proficiency and vocabulary. It has specialized pages for these skills to enhance your writing and speaking performances. Moreover, you can also find well-structured exercises for reading and listening.

Aside from that, this book has a detailed overview of the essential parts of the IELTS exam. You can find this in the first part to understand what may appear in the actual test. Worry not because everything is understandable and concise.

This prep guide is also advisable due to its exciting topics. Some parts may tackle family values, animal rights, environment, technologies, and the likes. In that way, you can study for the exam and be aware of various things in life.

Lastly, this book best applies to you if you wish to achieve higher band levels.


Unfortunately, we can never deny that some books will always have their weaknesses. In this case, the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook may not be helpful if you are a complete beginner with low-level knowledge about the English language. It applies more to intermediate or advanced learners.

Furthermore, this book may not contain all the solutions needed for the exercises. There are also no CDs, so you will need to purchase the Teacher’s book to solve this issue. It will then become more expensive than usual.


Since this book has received different thoughts and opinions from various users, here are summarized ratings from three sites or platforms.


Firstly, the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook received a user rating of 4.04 out of 5 in the Goodreads. Two users commented that this book is an excellent prep guide for the IELTS. Unfortunately, there are no other comments after that.

Focus on IELTS Foundation Goodreads 1


This book had a rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon. Some users said that the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook best applies to test-takers who wish to achieve higher band levels. It has well-structured content and excellent English exercises.

However, they stated that this is not advisable for low-level students. Moreover, it is pretty expensive because you need to purchase the CD first. Few people also said that some parts are erasable.

Focus on IELTS Foundation Amazon1


Users from eBay gave this book a perfect 5 out of 5 ratings. They commended its excellent content and colorful appearance. One of them also said that it is easy to learn and that they want to recommend this book to other test-takers. 

Focus on IELTS Foundation eBay 1

How To Use The Book Effectively?

As stated earlier, the efficacy of prep guides may often depend on how we use them. You can consistently achieve the highest band score if you know how to manage them. With that, here are some tips we can offer to get the most out of this book.

  • Ensure to finish all the lessons on every topic before moving on to the next. For example, you need to accomplish the reading, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary lessons for Topic 1 before going to Topic 2. 
  • For every two topics, try answering the Academic Word Study and Review. You may check your answers afterward and proceed to the next two.
  • Do not hesitate to prepare your pen and paper for jotting down essential words from the Grammar and Vocabulary sections.
  • Do not forget to try the Writing Practice Bank and Key Language Bank. These parts are crucial because they can give you essential tips and strategies for writing and speaking.

Final Thoughts

The Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook can be an excellent helping hand for IELTS preparation, especially when you are weak in grammar and vocabulary. It includes different topics that focus on the essential skills, making you feel confident and prepared for the exam day.

Aside from that, you can have ideas of the test contents with the help of the IELTS overview in the first part. It explains the details of the exam and the things you need to focus on to achieve high scores. 

Overall, this book makes a helpful prep guide to test-takers, especially for intermediate and advanced people.

Nonetheless, you may still want to have another supplementary book that you can use with this guide. 

Since the Focus on IELTS Foundation Coursebook lacks solutions and is somewhat expensive due to the CD, you can find a more affordable book with audio files. You can use them together to make your preparation better.

Do you have any test-taking experience or thoughts about this prep book? Please share your opinions and thoughts below!