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How you should approach IELTS Letters - General Training Writing Task 1

Welcome to our expert blog on IELTS preparation! In this post, we'll provide you with simple yet highly effective strategies and example phrases to tackle various scenarios you might encounter in the General Training Writing Task 1 of the IELTS exam. We've categorised these scenarios into eight different types, each with a formal, semi-formal, and informal example. Let's dive right in!

Understanding the Basics

You will be presented with a scenario and asked to write a letter based on that situation.

Based on the question type and the scenario, you would need to use a specific tone and answer a specific question type.

For example,

Here is a typical IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Question:

You are interested in applying for a job advertised in a local newspaper. Write a formal job application letter to the employer. Include information about your qualifications, relevant experience, and why you are a suitable candidate for the position. Attach your resume and any necessary documents.

From the question, we know that we need to have a formal response and we are writing to give information.

Letter tone: Formal

Question Type: Giving Information

Question Types

Here are the Question Types that you could be asked to answer:

  • Giving information

  • Requesting for information

  • Making complaints

  • Making suggestions

  • Inviting someone

  • Sending a thank you letter

  • Sending an apology letter

ielts general training letter question types

There are three main types of ‘tones’ you may encounter: formal, semi-formal, and informal.

1. Formal Letters

Formal letters are typically used for official or business purposes. You might be asked to write a formal letter to:

  • A company, expressing a complaint or making an inquiry.

  • An authority figure, such as a local council or government department.

  • A job application, cover letter, or resignation letter.

Strategy: Keep your tone polite and respectful. Use proper salutations and closings, and structure your letter with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Be concise and to the point.

ielts general training writing task 1 formal letters

2. Semi-Formal Letters

Semi-formal letters are less rigid than formal ones but still require a certain level of decorum. You might encounter semi-formal letters when writing to:

  • A colleague or acquaintance.

  • A friend's parents or someone you don't know well.

  • A neighbour regarding a shared issue.

Strategy: Strike a balance between formality and familiarity. Use a friendly tone but maintain respect. Semi-formal letters should still include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

ielts general training writing task 1 semi- formal letters

3. Informal Letters

Informal letters are like friendly chats on paper. They are typically addressed to:

  • Friends or family.

  • People you know well or have a close relationship with.

  • Pen pals or online friends.

Strategy: Be relaxed and conversational. You can use contractions, colloquial language, and even a bit of humour if appropriate. Still, remember to maintain clarity and coherence in your communication.

ielts general training writing task 1 informal letters

Common Elements in All IELTS Letters

Regardless of the type of letter, there are some common elements to consider:

  • Salutation: Start your letter with a suitable greeting, like "Dear Sir/Madam," "Dear [Name]," or "Hi [Name]."

  • Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself and the reason for writing the letter.

  • Body: In this section, provide details, explanations, or arguments related to the topic. Use paragraphs to organise your thoughts logically.

  • Conclusion: Summarise your main points and express any final thoughts or requests.

  • Closing: End with an appropriate closing, such as "Yours faithfully," "Sincerely," or "Best regards."

ielts general training writing task 1 letter structures

Now that we’ve looked at the letter types, tone and question types - let’s try to plan and structure some IELTS Letters.

1. Making a Complaint:


Formal Scenario - Write a letter to a hotel manager to complain about the recent hotel stay.

  • Introduction: "I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the recent hotel stay at your establishment."

  • Provide details: "The room was not as clean as expected, and there was a delay in room service."

  • Express dissatisfaction: "This experience fell short of our expectations for a 5-star hotel."

  • Suggest a solution: "I kindly request that you improve the cleanliness standards and service efficiency."



2. Giving Information:


Formal Scenario - Write an official letter to inform stakeholders about an upcoming business conference.

  • Provide information: "I am writing to provide you with essential information regarding our upcoming business conference."

  • Organize information: "The conference will take place on [Date] at [Venue], and it will include keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities."

  • Offer further assistance: "Should you require any additional information or have specific questions, please feel free to contact us."

Semi Formal


3. Requesting Information:


Formal Scenario - Write an official letter to request information about postgraduate programs from a university.

  • Request information: "I am writing to request detailed information about your company's postgraduate programs."

  • Provide context: "I am considering further education and would like to understand the program offerings, admission requirements, and application deadlines."

  • Express appreciation: "Thank you in advance for your prompt response and assistance."



4. Sending an Apology:


Formal Scenario - Write a formal letter to apologize for a billing error in a financial report.

  • Acknowledge the mistake: "I am writing to sincerely apologize for the billing error in our recent financial report."

  • Offer a sincere apology: "I deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused, and I take full responsibility for the error."

  • Describe steps being taken: "We are actively working to rectify the mistake and ensure accurate financial reporting moving forward."



5. Making an Inquiry:


Formal Scenario - Write an official letter to inquire about the availability of products in your area.

  • State the inquiry: "I am writing to inquire about the availability of your products in my area."

  • Provide context: "I am interested in purchasing your products and need to know if they are accessible locally."

  • Express appreciation: "Your prompt response would be greatly appreciated.



6. Making a Suggestion:


Formal Scenario - Write an official letter to propose an enhancement to the company's customer service process.

  • State the suggestion: "I would like to propose an enhancement to our company's customer service process."

  • Provide reasons: "I believe that implementing an online chat support system could lead to quicker issue resolution and improved customer satisfaction."

  • Encourage consideration and feedback: "I kindly request that you evaluate the feasibility of this suggestion and its potential benefits for our clients."



7. Sending a Thank You:


Formal Scenario - Write a formal letter to express gratitude for support during a job search.

  • Express gratitude: "I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks for your guidance and support during my job search."

  • Specify impact: "Your advice and recommendations played a significant role in securing my current position."

  • Offer appreciation once again: "Thank you once again for your invaluable assistance."



8. Cancelling a Commitment:


Formal Scenario - Write an official letter to cancel a scheduled business meeting.

  • State the cancellation: "I regret to inform you that I must cancel our scheduled business meeting on [Date]."

  • Provide the reason: "Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I am unable to fulfill my commitment to attend."

  • Apologize for inconvenience: "I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and any disruption it may create to our plans."

  • Express willingness to reschedule: "I am open to rescheduling the meeting at your convenience."



In conclusion, IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 may seem daunting, but it's entirely manageable with the right approach. Remember these key takeaways:

  1. Understand the Purpose: Know why you're writing - whether it's to complain, request information, apologize, or make a suggestion.

  2. Structure Matters: Organize your letter with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a polite closing.

  3. Tone and Vocabulary: Tailor your tone to the formality of the situation, and use appropriate vocabulary and phrases for each scenario.

  4. Word Count: Aim for the required word count (150 words or more) to fully address the task.

  5. Proofread: Always proofread your letter for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

  6. Practice: Regular practice with diverse scenarios will boost your confidence and writing skills.

With consistent practice and attention to detail, you'll be well-prepared to excel in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1. Best of luck on your IELTS journey!


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