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IELTS Letter Writing Tips and Lessons: General Writing Task 1

In the IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, you need to write a letter responding to a given situation, explaining the situation or requesting information. In this task, you should spend 20 minutes writing a 150-word letter. Don’t you think you should know what features the examiners look for in a letter, there comes IELTS Letter Writing Tips and Lessons. Let us take this question for say:

You just moved to a new city for work. Write a letter to a friend. In your letter, 
Tell your friend about your work.
Describe your new city.
Invite your friend to visit you.

The information below includes IELTS letter writing tips, lessons, strategies, expressions, sample questions, model letters, and references. It can help you get the highest possible score on the letter-writing section of the IELTS. Use it regularly to keep track of your progress. All the best!

IELTS Letter Writing Tips and Lessons

IELTS Letter Writing Tips Collection


1. Develop a template for your essay:-

This is a thing that you will be doing before your test day. Develop a well structured template for your letter. Most of the answers marked above seven use this simple yet powerful skeleton for their answer.

Parts of letterContent
Opening (Dear sir…)
Paragraph 1 Explain why you are writing the letter
Paragraph 2 Addressing Bullet point 1
Paragraph 3 Addressing Bullet point 1
Paragraph 4 Addressing Bullet point 1
Closing remark (e.g. I look forward to hearing from you etc.)
Ending (Yours sincerely, Kind regards, All the best etc.)
Name

Lets take this example:-

Dear Juliette, 

How are you doing these days? I wanted to update you on my life here in Vancouver now that I am settled. 

I moved to Vancouver for work last month. A small but promising company working on artificial intelligence offered me a position as a project manager. My work consists of making sure that the different engineering teams are working towards the same goal. I currently oversee two major projects. 

Vancouver is a stunning city. I get to see the sun rise over a beautiful mountain range and gently set on the ocean. The mild climate allows me to commute to work on my bicycle. There is also a bustling art scene that I think you would enjoy! 

I would love to see you and take you around Vancouver sometime. I set up my study so that I can host a guest. You mentioned that you would like to go kayaking. July and August would be a perfect time to go kayaking along the fjords. 

Let me know when you would like to visit! Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing these days. I can’t wait to see you again! 

Best, 
Balmit Thapa

2. Identify the type of letter and use appropriate style accordingly

There are three types of IELTS Letter Writing; Formal Letter, Semi-formal Letter and Informal Letter. Each letter has a different purpose and writing style.

  • Formal
  • Semi-formal
  • Informal

With different style, each letter has a distinct beginning and signing off. Once you identify the type of letter by reading all the instructions, you can focus on the vocabulary and contractions to be used.

STYLECHARACTERISTICSOPENINGENDING
FormalTo someone you have not met, whose name you don’t knowDear Sir/Madam,Yours faithfully,
Semi-formalTo someone you may or may not have met, whose last name you knowDear Mr Brown,
Dear Ms Stone
Yours sincerely,
InformalTo someone you know well, whose first name you know and useDear John,
Dear Anita,
Best regards,
Warm wishes,

3. Identify the purpose of the letter within the letter types

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.  

TYPEPURPOSE
FormalRequesting information from a company
Applying for a job
Complaining to a bank, store, airline re:product/service
Making a recommendation/suggestion
Semi-formalComplaining to a landlord
Explaining to a neighbor
Asking a professor for permission
InformalInviting someone you know well
Thanking a friend
Apologizing
Asking for advice

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.

4. Use the right tone

Let’s move on to the next feature in your letter that the examiner is looking for, the tone for writing 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 writing contains these elements: 

  • 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
Yours sincerely/ faithfullyBest wishes/ love
FuthermoreAnd/ 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

5. Learn and use standard written phrases.

In English letter writing, we use a number of standard expressions and phrases. These not only save time and effort, but also make it easier for the reader to understand our meaning. You can add on the specific information you wish to communicate to these standard phrases. See the list of Useful Expressions below.

Some useful phrases includes:-

Apologizing
Please accept my sincere apologies for…
I am very sorry about…
Sorry for…

Asking for help
I’d be grateful if you could…
I would appreciate it if you could…
Could you please…

Asking for information
I am writing to enquire about…
I am writing to find out about…
I would like to know about…

Closing
I look forward to hearing from you,
I look forward to seeing you,
I look forward to meeting you,

Complaining
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with…
I am writing to express my annoyance with…
I’m not happy with…

Expressing satisfaction
I was delighted to learn that…
I was thrilled to hear that…
I was very glad to hear that…

Expressing concern
I am writing to express my concern about…
I was very sorry to learn that…
I was really sorry to hear that…

Giving bad news
I regret to advise you that…
I regret to inform you that…
I am sorry to tell you that…

Giving good news
I am pleased to advise you that…
I am delighted to inform you that…
I am happy to tell you that…

Giving reasons
This is due to…
This is a result of….
This is because….

Making suggestions
Perhaps it would be useful to…
Perhaps it would be possible to…
It might be helpful to…

Thanking
I am extremely grateful for…
I really appreciate…
Thank you for…

6. Write at least 150 words

Practice writing your letter till you know what 150 words feels like and looks like. You will lose marks if you write less. You will not lose marks if you write more.

7. Include all three bulleted points

The only way to save yourself from getting off-topic is to include all the bulleted points from your question while writing your letter. If you exclude even one of the points given to you in the question prompt, you will lose valuable marks.

In your letter:

  • explain the problem
  • describe why it disturbs you
  • suggest a solution

8. Understand the scoring criteria. 

Learn how to get a high score by knowing what examiners look for and how they award or deduct points.

IELTS General Task 1 Grading Criteria

Task achievementDo everything you are asked to do
Give a full developed response
Include/cover all the necessary points
Write 150 words
Coherence & cohesionCoherence:
Present ideas logically
Use structured paragraphs

Cohesion:
Write so points stick together, make sense, and convey your message
Use standard expressions & transition words
Lexical resourceUse a wide range of vocabulary naturally, correctly, and fluently
Use correct spelling
Choose the right words (word choice)
Use the correct form of words, such as verbs, nouns, etc. (word form)
Grammar range & accuracyUse a wide range of grammar structures
Include different kinds of sentences – simple, compound, complex
Use effective punctuation
Use correct capitalization

There are eight main sections to this lesson: the General Training Writing. Skip it, repeat it…, use it the way you need.

IELTS Letter Writing Tips and Lessons

IELTS Letter Writing Lessons: Auto focus Mode


IELTS Letter Writing Lessons: Manual Mode


Unit 1: Understanding Writing Task 1
The Writing Task 1 of the IELTS general test requires you to write a letter of at least 150 words in response to a question.

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Unit 2: Understanding the Scoring
IELTS usually rounds the number up or down to the nearest half score which means it would go from 6.66 to 6.5 based on four different criteria.

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Unit 3: Types of Letter
Letters are written for many different reasons. However, some letters are more common than others, and such letters are asked often in IELTS.

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Unit 4: Focus on Task Achievement
Lexical Resource is one of the four IELTS marking criteria that focuses on the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. These vocabulary are sure to enhance your score.

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Unit 5: Focus on Cohesion & Coherence
Coherence and cohesion refers to how well the reader can understand your writing and how
well your writing is organised. It’s all about paragraphing, linking words and many others.

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Unit 6: Focus on Lexical Resource
Lexical Resource is one of the four IELTS marking criteria that focuses on the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. These vocabulary are sure to enhance your score.

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Unit 7: Focus on Grammatical Range & Accuracy
A mix of grammatical range with its appropriate use is what examiner will be looking in your letter. There are specific structures by using which your score will enhance.

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Unit 8: Hing scored Letter Samples
It has 24 example Tasks, with examiner’s comment, that are scored Band 9 to help you develop an overall concept of the content written and examiner’s response by using which you can develop your own superior letter.

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