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IELTS General Training, Writing Task 1: How to write a letter

JithinVarghese

12 Jan, 2020

When you put in the work, getting the IELTS score you need is easy. We’ve put together some handy tips to get you one step ahead. With the help of our IELTS experts, we have put together some important points you need to focus on when writing a letter as part of IELTS General Training Writing Task 1.

 

If we take a closer look at Task Achievement in the IELTS assessment criteria, you can see the examiner checks to see if your letter contains the following features:

  • Purpose of the letter is presented
  • Tone of the letter is appropriate
  • Bullet points are presented, highlighted and extended
  • Format is appropriate – letter format

That’s a quick overview, but let's take a closer look at what each of these dot points mean, and how you need to write your letter in IELTS Writing Task 1.

 

Purpose

 

Start your letter by clearly stating why you are writing, the purpose. The reason for writing your letter needs to be clearly presented in the opening paragraph. Make sure the purpose of the letter is in direct response to the situation outlined in the question.

 

Example opening paragraphs with a clear purpose presented:

Formal letterInformal letter
Dear Sir/Madam, 
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with a product I have purchased recently and to request a full refund.
Dear John, 
I was so pleased to hear that you are planning on visiting my country, so I’m writing to give you some travel tips and advice before you book your trip.

Common IELTS General Training, Writing Task 1 situations may include:

Formal Informal
Letter of complaint (e.g. personal, business, recent, experience, product)Letter of invitation (e.g. party, dinner, celebration) 
Letter of request (e.g. refund, repair, advice, reservation)Letter of request (e.g. asking questions, asking for advice, asking for help)
Letter of enquiry (e.g. information request, booking)Letter of thanks or appreciation
Letter of recommendation (e.g. job, colleague)Letter of suggestion (e.g. suggesting ideas, plans, solutions)
Letter of suggestion (e.g. suggesting ideas, plans, solutions) 

Tone

 

Let’s move on to the next feature in your letter that the examiner is looking for, the tone of your letter. The tone refers to the way in which you write the letter, formal or informal style. The instructions in the question will give you a clue.

 

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear...Informal or semi-formal: written to a friend, colleague or someone you know 
Dear Sir/ MadamFormal: written to someone you do not know

A formal letter contains:

  • Longer sentences that use passive language (be + past participle)
  • Modals (e.g. The broken light needs to be fixed to ensure that the customers who use this facility have adequate visibility of their surroundings.)

An informal letter is:

 

  • Conversational
  • Can include contractions (e.g. can’t) and more direct speech (e.g. Can you fix the light in the kitchen, so I don’t have an accident?)

The table shows some examples of formal and informal vocabulary and structures that you can use in your IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 response:

Formal vocabulary and structuresInformal vocabulary and structures
 RequestAsk
PurchaseBuy
CouldCan
WouldWill
At your earliest convenienceWhen you are free
RespondWrite back/ reply
CannotCan't
 Your sincerely/ faithfullyBest wishes/ love
FurthermoreAnd/ also
Can I suggestCan I tell you
 As you described aboveAs I mentioned before

And finally, remember that the greeting and the closing salutation of an IELTS General Training, Writing Task 1 letter needs to match the style. For example:

 

Dear Sir/Madam -----------------------> Yours faithfully

 

Dear John -----------------------> Best wishes

 

Bullet points

 

When writing a letter as part of IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, it is important to include the bullet points presented to you in the question.

 

The question in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 will present you with:

  • A situation
  • Who to write the letter to
  • What you must include in the letter (the bullet points).

All three bullet points need to be presented. And remember that some bullet points contain more than one element. So, make sure to watch for ‘and’ and plurals.

 

Let’s break down the following question.

  

An overseas friend wants to visit your country on holiday.

 

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

  • Recommend the best time of year to visit and why
  • Describe the types of accommodation your friend could choose
  • Say what you would like to show your friend in your country

Write at least 150 words.

 

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

 

Begin your letter as follows:

 

Dear…

Look at the first bullet point and you will see it contains two elements. So, make sure you present both:

  1. The best time of the year to visit
  2. Why it is the best time to visit

Look at the second bullet point and you will see you will that you have to describe ‘types’ of accommodation. So, remember to watch for plurals.

  1. First type of accommodation
  2. Second type of accommodation

Example for the first bullet point, covering both elements (when and why):

 

Most people visit Brisbane in the summer months, but I think it’s far too hot then. The best time to visit is between April and June, our autumn season. It’s still sunny, but much cooler and not as humid as the summer.

 

Letter format

 

The final feature to look at in IELTS General Training, Writing Task 1 is the format of your letter. A letter needs to be written using a proper format, including the following:

  • A greeting (Dear sir/madam, Dear John, Dear Mr Smith)
  • The main body (consisting of paragraphs for each part of the letter)
  • A closing (Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, Best wishes, Kind regards, Love)

In the instructions you are told - You do NOT need to write any addresses – so do not include them.

 

This is an example of an informal letter:

Dear AndrewOpening salutation – greeting - must be included for appropriate letter format.
I was pleased to hear that you’re going to visit Brisbane, so I’m writing to give you some information to think about before you come. State the purpose of the letter in the opening paragraph.
Most people travel to Brisbane in the summer months, but I think it’s uncomfortably hot at that time of the year. Autumn is the best season, between April and June. It’s still sunny, but much cooler than in summer.  First bullet Point presented and highlighted in a separate paragraph.
At the moment, all our bedrooms are full, so unfortunately, we can’t put you up. However, there are some cheap places to stay, like Airbnb’s, in our suburb. You could also stay in a serviced apartment in the city centre or on the Gold Coast. There are lots of specials online, so I’m sure you’ll find somewhere affordable. Second bullet point presented and highlighted in a separate paragraph.
When you get here, let me be your tourist guide. I’ll take you to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you can feed kangaroos and koalas. I can also drive you to the Gold Coast for a swim. To add excitement, we can visit the theme parks there too. 
Third bullet point presented and highlighted in a separate paragraph.
Looking forward to catching upConcluding letter (rounding off statement).
Best wishesClosing salutation, must be included for appropriate letter format. 
LaurelYour name, to make the letter look realistic.

Remember, to reach a higher band score for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Task Achievement, you need to include each of these features in your letter.

  • A clear purpose
  • Appropriate tone
  • Present and highlight all the bullet points
  • Appropriate format