IELTS General Writing Task 1

The general IELTS writing task one is always a letter. The type of letter that you will be asked to write will be formal, semi-formal, or informal in nature.

You have to write a minimum of 150 words and should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

Let’s look at the three different types of letters.

Informal

You will use this style of letter when writing a letter to a friend or family member. Let’s look at an example:

Example 1

A friend wants to come and visit you for a weekend next month.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:

– give information about when you are available.
– give details about where your friend will sleep.
– give suggestions about you both can do during the visit.

Write at least 150 words

You do NOT need to write your own address.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear …

Starting the letter: Dear (first name).

Information to include: How you feel about your friend visiting, the dates you are available, the room where your friend will sleep, and suggestions about what you can do when your friend is visiting.

Ending: Best regards, Warm wishes, With love.

In the above letter it is important to use the correct verb tenses and tone (friendly). Here are some example sentences for the above letter:

  • Next month I’m pretty busy, but I’m available on the 15th if that works for you?
  • We have a spare room so you won’t have to share the couch with the dog!
  • When you visit, we should definitely go to the new restaurant near my house as it’s delicious and really popular at the moment.

As the tone of the letter is informal, you can make contractions like, I’m, we’re, they’ve etc. This is the only time during the writing section that you can use contractions.

Try to use phrasal verbs and idioms where possible.

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Semi-Formal

This type of letter is not fully formal nor informal and usually includes elements of both styles. Here is an example:

Example 2

Write a letter to your mother’s friend inviting her to a dinner party. Your letter should include:

– the time and place of the party.
– what food will be served and suggestions on what your guest should bring.
– information on how to respond to the invitation.

You should write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write your own address.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear …

Starting the letter: Dear Mr/Mrs

Information to include: An introduction (who you are and the fact that you are having a dinner party), information about the party (date, time, and location), what food you will be cooking and whether your guest should bring something, information on how the person can reply.

Ending: Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully.

You should try use a semi-formal tone. Certain phrasal verbs are okay but you should probably stay away from using contractions. Here are some example sentences for the above letter:

  • This is Paul’s son, Dave. I am writing to invite you to a dinner party that we are having..
  • We will be cooking pasta while also serving a salad. We will also have a variety of drinks, but if you would like to bring something, then…
  • Please respond either in writing or contacting me by email: examplemeail@emailaddress.com.

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Formal

This type of letter includes letters of complaint, formal requests, applications etc. The tone of the letter is formal and this will change some of the language you use. Here’s an example:

Example 3

You are looking at part-time courses at your local college/university.

Write a letter to the college requesting more information. In your letter

– introduce yourself
– explain what course or courses you are interested in.
– request more information about certain features of the course

You should write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write your own address.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ….

Starting the letter: Dear Sir/Madam.

Information to include: An introduction (who you are, why you are writing the letter), the course(s) you are interested in, and questions about that course.

Ending: Yours faithfully.

As this is a more formal letter, the language you use will be a lot more formal. Do not use contractions or phrasal verbs in these types of letters. Here are some example sentences:

  • My name is John Smith and I am writing to request more information about one of the courses that you offer.
  • I am particularly interested in the web design course that is offered on Tuesday evenings.
  • I have a couple of questions about the course and would be grateful if you gave me more information about some of the features.