5 Online IELTS Training Platforms Get Your Top English Test Scores for University Admission Start studying abroad

Who says you can only prepare for the IELTS exam in school? Many online platforms help you prepare for the IELTS Test for Academic English (including its four mandatory stages – Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing), and provide ways to test your English skills and your familiarity with the testing process at a fraction of the cost of attending a specialised language school location.

However, before getting ready for the test you need to advance your English knowledge so why not pick an international English language school?

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Studyportals has reviewed three top online platforms providing IELTS test training, to help you choose the perfect option, and get admitted to an international university in no time:

By assessing these online IELTS preparation platforms we can share our insights about who would best benefit from using these platforms.

The training platforms will be reviewed on the following points:

  • Usability and page design
  • Preparation materials included
  • The simulation experience
  • The speaking test
  • Test evaluation and keeping track of results
  • Fees and subscription duration
  • Conclusions

Each topic section includes observations about each of the three platforms.

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1. Platform usability & page design
IELTS Test Online
  • At first, it is not very clear how to get started. The busy look of the page can create confusion.
  • Some graphic elements look outdated.
  • Including better links to previous pages may help with navigation.
  • Sometimes it may be difficult to remember how you landed on a specific page.
IELTS Master
  • You need to read a few pages before you get started. Users go through clear steps meant for technical calibration.
  • Clear start page that leads to preparation sections for each test type.
  • Easy link navigation on the left side of the page – You can skip to whatever chapter you want to read by selecting it. The site is a bit busy visually.
  • The exercises in the learning section are marked with special icons for easier navigation.
  • The platform looks functional, but the design is just a little outdated.
  • Users can access technical help at any time.
  • You can ask for assistance by using the message box.
  • Videos take a while to load.
Cambridge English
  • The website is straightforward and it's easy to get started. Users are not confused with a lot of information.
  • You can read the FAQ and tutorial before getting started, or whenever you need to.
  • Minimalistic but modern page design. Intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Good tutorial for first-time users: includes videos, pdf brochure and on-page FAQ.
  • Clear instructions. You can always access help features, even during the test.
  • The interface language can be changed to 4 other languages.
  • Tests open in a pop-up page, which doesn’t scale well on all monitors sizes. You may have to maximise the page manually.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • Clean, modern look. 
  • Includes student support section and useful information page.
  • Also includes an FAQ with forum answers.
  • Easy to get started, to use and navigate. 
  • Videos have subtitles. 
  • You can easily tell what you will do on the page based on specific icons. 
  • Good overview of all steps and available exercises. 
IELTS Magoosh
  • Easy to navigate and to know your location on the site. 
  • Simple, modern and straightforward platform. 
  • Easy to mark and track progress with a list of completed courses and percentage pie charts. 
  • No intro before getting started, but the platform is intuitive enough. You can take notes during the video and review them when you need to. 
  • You can also leave feedback for each video lesson, to follow what the teacher is saying more easily. Option to speed up video without affecting quality. 
  • During the tests, you have to fill in the answer in a separate box and press the submit button, which is located further down on the page - not very user-friendly. 
2. Included IELTS preparation materials
IELTS Test Online
  • Includes over 80 interactive lessons and 350 tutorial videos.
  • A vocabulary introduction is available before each lesson.
  • There is an initial quiz to before each lesson to test your starting knowledge.
  • You'll find a lot of instructional videos included in the lessons.
  • The platform includes preparation for a wide range of test takers: 5.0 to 9.0 score band.
  • You'll find a study plan to help you with the learning rhythm.
  • You can download audio files for further use after the subscription expires.
  • Free 800-page e-book including all lessons.
  • There are games for relaxing but also practising your English level.
IELTS Master
  • Find more than 260 activities in over 1000 study pages of content.
  • You get 500 pages of teaching materials.
  • Test tips and study strategies are provided in all modules.
  • By assessing your experience with the platform, you get a few extra days of access.
  • The short learning sections are easy to comprehend.
  • A study plan is included to help students organise their learning activities – students can download the plan as PDF to keep track. This could have been presented better.
  • Quizzes and assisted exercises are included in the preparation part.
  • You can buy a tutor evaluation for Writing and Speaking Tests and access the corrected material from your account – not need for direct interaction with the tutor.
Cambridge English
  • There are learning materials about how to take the test only included in PDF format.
  • A few test samples included.
  • You have the option to take preparation test before starting the actual simulation.
  • Unfortunately, the preparation test is the same as the simulation. More variety would have been more helpful.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • Includes a lot of videos with the option of downloading them if you want.
  • Interesting exercises included. 
  • You only get access to a significant portion of the materials if you pay extra. 
  • 160 extra activities for premium students.
  • A progress bar keeps track of your completed tests.
IELTS Magoosh
  • 700 hours of video material.
  • Video materials covering all four test sections, and IELTS skills as well as extensive grammar lessons. 
  • In addition to offering language training for the parts of IELTS, it includes also lessons on English grammar.
  • Lessons and test simulations are split into individual sections. 
3. Test simulation experience
IELTS Test Online
  • 15 preparation tests for each IELTS section for a total of 60 tests, regardless of the subscription you choose.
  • Each test has a band score estimator included.
  • You can take the tests as many times as you want.
  • The tests loads in a pop-up page.
IELTS Master
  • Pop-ups appear with test requirements and answers. Answers need to be filled in separately, on a different page. This feature is a bit cumbersome and takes away from the simulation experience.
  • You have the option to print the question sheet and the answer sheet.
  • There is a visible timer included with the test. You can start, pause or reset it freely.
  • Includes: 2 Writing practice tests, 3 Reading practice tests, 2 Listening practice tests, 2 Speaking practice tests.
  • However, you will need to buy the help of an IELTS personal tutor for the Writing and Speaking Tests, if you want your assignments corrected and evaluated.
  • Examples are included for each test. Also, before starting the actual test, students get an example of how to fill in their answers.
  • The text of the listening test can be seen by clicking a button.
Cambridge English
  • The test has a fixed duration but the time is not displayed during testing.
  • Plays recordings with instructions and time gaps to be able to complete requirements.
  • You will have a fixed number of tries. You can take each test simulation only once, although practice tests have 3 tries each. This includes all four of the IELTS test sections.
  • If you have to stop, you can just exit the window and the test is paused. When next accessed you can continue the recording from where you left off.
  • The simulation is realistic. The difficulty curve is increasing and includes diverse types of tests for each test section.
  • At the end of the Writing Test, you get three examples of what to write in the assignment, for different Band score skills.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • All lessons integrate excercises naturally. 
  • Well structured lesson plan: first explanatory videos, then written text with steps for taking the test, followed by section-specific exercises. 
  • Lessons are intuitive and diverse.  
  • Exercises show students how to fill in answers in the official IELTS test.
  • Not a lot of practice tests available for the unpaid account.
IELTS Magoosh
  • Videos look a bit generic, with just text on a white background.
  • During the test simulations, you cannot skip exercises. 
  • Answers and explanations are at the bottom of the page, in written and video format. 
  • You cannot fill in the answers directly in the text, but in a separate box. 
  • The test is timed and provides a realistic simulation. 
4. The Speaking Test

The speaking test assessment requires the use of a computer microphone, and your answers will be recorded.

IELTS Master
  • Students answer the test questions in real-time.
  • Each practice test has an example of a student answering the questions.
  • A video tutorial will teach you how to record and also access your tutor answers after being evaluated.
  • The recording process is well explained but has a lot of steps and requires a lot of interaction with the software.
Cambridge English
  • Students can take the test completely independent – no need for external reviewing or talking to an actual person.
  • Audio and microphone calibration takes place before the test to make sure everything works properly.
  • Students watch a video recording and are asked questions, simulating a speaking test. The recording pauses to allow students to answer.
  • You can see how much time you have to answer each individual question.
  • After completing the Speaking Test, you can replay your answers and listen to how you did.
  • You can also retake the same speaking test to improve your answers and get comfortable with the process.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • You can record yourself and playback your answers and compare with example recordings. 
  • The tests are split into parts, simulating the exam.
IELTS Magoosh
  • Magoosh does not give feedback to the Speaking Test. 
  • You can record it, and you get the video answer of what you should say during the test, but you don’t have your unique answer reviewed. 
  • Once you start the recording you can only stop after the testing time expires.
5. Test results, evaluation and keeping track of progress
IELTS Test Online
  • Each lesson includes a test at the end to evaluate your acquired knowledge.
  • There is a test score report summary showing your overall grade and percentage of complete lessons.
  • It's easy to keep track of your test results and you can always try to beat your previous score.
IELTS Master
  • After each test, you can check and see the correct answers.
  • You'll find a breakdown of all tests taken and their result on one page.
  • Depending on the result, you have a simple reference you can use to determine your band score.
  • You can buy a tutor evaluation for Writing and Speaking Tests and access the corrected material from your account – not need for direct interaction with the tutor.
Cambridge English
  • It's easy to check the results of the test after completing them.
  • The platform shows your mistakes and the right answers.
  • You get a percentage score based on your correct answers and an estimated band score based on this.
  • For the listening test, you also get transcripts of the conversation you listened to with highlighted answers.
  • The score breakdown includes the time you've taken to complete each test.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • The platform keeps track of the progress of lessons and tests very well.
  • Useful test score breakdown.
  • Modern and intuitive look to the answers provided for the tests.
  • Shows you which answers you got right, which ones you didn't and what the correct answers were.
IELTS Magoosh
  • Answers and explanations for tests are presented at the bottom of the test page.
  • You can mark your lesson finished after you went through it and understood it. This is also how the system keeps track of student progress.

6. Fees and subscription duration
IELTS Test Online
  • All subscriptions include all written, audio and video materials, as well as free e-book and personal email support
  • 20 USD – 10-day access
  • 50 USD – 30-day access
  • 80 USD – 90-day access
  • 100 USD – 90-day access + writing and speaking assessment from tutor
IELTS Master
  • 50 AUD – 45-days access
  • 100 AUD – 90-days access to all content
  • 300 AUD – all materials included + personal feedback from teachers for writing and speaking tests. 90-days access
Cambridge English
  • Pricing is not clear on the platform. It’s assumed you have already paid to get the code from the language schools.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • The course duration is 56 days.
  • The courses are offered for free.
  • If you want a certificate after completing it and access to extra practice tests this will cost 99 USD.
IELTS Magoosh
  • Free Trial – 1 week for free, limited videos available.
  • 19 USD – 1-week access.
  • 76 USD – 1-month access. Guarantees a band score of at least 7 or money back.
  • 174 USD – 6 months access. Guarantees a band score of at least 7 or money back.

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7. Overall conclusions
IELTS Test Online
  • It's great if you want to practice a lot before your actual IELTS test – 60 practice tests and free e-book included with any subscription.
  • You'll get a lot of resources for learning and test your knowledge.
  • It's very useful if you can overlook some navigation and outdated platform graphics.
IELTS Master
  • More focus on actual IELTS test preparation.
  • Fully online classes are aimed at replacing on-location IELTS Test preparation.
  • Good if you want to also keep an organised learning schedule.
  • A lot of teaching material and activities included.
Cambridge English
  • Students insert the code and get started immediately.
  • Easy to use, to the point, and good implementation, without depending on teachers to correct the work. Fully independent.
  • Would have been nice to include more test variations and more interactive extra resources.
  • Realistic test experience, best for students who have already completed their IELTS preparation and just want to practice their knowledge.
  • It’s also likely that students can buy more Cambridge practice tests from the English schools they are enrolled in.
IELTS Academic Test Preparation
  • The clarity of the user interface helps get you started with learning fast.
  • Modern learning platform that is easy to use.
  • Intuitive and clear evaluation of tests.
  • Limited number of practice tests, especially if using the free version.
  • The fact that videos have subtitles also ofer an alternative way of practicing reading while you learn.
IELTS Magoosh
  • More pricey than other options, but guarantees you will get a high IELTS score for your exam.
  • A good amount of materials to go through.
  • Could use some improvements to make the test simulation experience easier for students.

What are you waiting for? Advance your English skills, pick an online IELTS training platform and get ready for your IELTS Academic English Exam!

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