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How can apps help 2.2 million candidates improve their English?

Cullen Education // Case Study // User Interface Design

In brief

Expertise and Services
Brand design
App development
User interface design
User experience design
Marketing consultancy
Website design
Audio design
IELTS_Uses_of_Cullens_App by Peek Creative Limited
IELTS_Uses_of_Cullens_App by Peek Creative Limited
IELTS_Uses_of_Cullens_App by Peek Creative Limited

Industry Setting

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, the world’s proven English language test and is accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by over 9,000 organisations worldwide. Last year, more than 2.2 million tests were taken globally. IELTS is recognised as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.
IELTS-App-Design_Cullen_Education_Overview by Peek Creative Limited


Leading author Pauline Cullen came to Peek with an idea for a suite of apps to help support her bestselling IELTS (International English Language Testing System) books. The apps are aimed at people seeking to improve their English ready for their IELTS examination and to increase the candidates' chances of achieving IELTS Band 7 and above.
Cullens_Typographic_button_detail by Peek Creative Limited


Many IELTS candidates try to learn vocabulary but can’t remember the words they need in the test so the app is designed to guide the user through a series of exercises to help build their active vocabulary through repetition and understanding.

Working with Pauline, Peek helped bring the exercises to life by:

  • designing a clean and clear user interface 
  • developing logical steps for progression 
  • Integrating a scoring process to add a level of satisfaction for the user
  • designing a word game to reward the user for their perseverance and to add a sense of achievement
The candidate starts by picking one of 25 topics which are all related to the IELTS test and then progresses through 10 different exercises to improve: speed reading, spelling, listening as well as accurate use of the word in a sentence. It’s like having an IELTS teacher in your pocket.

Once they have completed and unlocked all of the exercises in a topic, they can review them in any order, at any time. The user is able to then repeat the topics to try to improve their accuracy in use, spelling, and to increase their speed-reading time.

Peek created a new brand for Pauline Cullen – Cullen Education – and designed a look and feel for the user interface that works across the entire suite of apps. A graded colour palette was chosen to help identify the IELTS bands for the matching apps at each level (Vocabulary and Grammar). Peek guided Pauline through the App Store process helping with advertising, listing, seo and release of the apps through a dedicated developer account.
iPhone App design development for Cullen eductation by Peek Creative Limited
Cullens_Typographic_detail by Peek Creative Limited
IELTS-App-Design_Cullen_Education_Exercises by Peek Creative Limited

The Result

The first app released on iOS is the IELTS 7+ Vocab app and its objectives are to help increase vocabulary for writing and speaking, to improve reading and listening speed and to learn useful synonyms to help answer questions in reading and listening.
“The app was designed and produced by the amazing people at Peek Creative, Cambridge, UK. I brought them the individual parts and a picture in my head and they assembled it, gave it an engine and made it work better than I ever imagined.”

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