IELTS General Writing Task 1 – Letter


The IELTS general writing task 1 is a letter. You have to write a letter to someone whom you may or may not know. We recommend that you write around 120+ words to achieve a high score.

IELTS General Writing Task 1 – Requirements and Instructions

Follow the below points to achieve a high band in the IELTS general writing task 1:

  1. The amount of words you write doesn’t matter. IELTS officials recently removed the restriction of having a minimum of 150 words. So, don’t focus on words count and instead, focus on answering the question properly.
  2. Structure the letter with paragraphs. Failing to do so can lead to a lower score.
  3. Spend 20 minutes on writing your letter. It’s super important to manage your time for the writing part properly.
  4. IELTS General Writing Task 1 is ⅓ of the overall wiring test score. Writing Task 2 is ⅔ of the total score. So, put enough effort to practice for writing part 1.
  5. The IELTS writing task is assessed by four criteria, each of which counts for 25% of the total score.
    • Task Achievement
    • Coherence and Cohesion
    • Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
    • Grammar

IELTS Letter Type – Formal or Informal?

The first thing to do when writing an IELTS letter is to determine the letter type.

There are two possible types of IELTS letters in this task – formal and informal. The tone you should use in your writing will depend on the letter type.

You might hear the term semi-formal letters time to time. But you can ignore semi-formal letters and make them either formal or informal depending on whom you write.

Now, let’s move on and find out how to understand which type of letter it is and how to write the letter.

IELTS Formal Letter

When you need to write to someone whom you don’t know, or you have a professional relationship with that person, it is a formal letter.

For example, if you are given to write a letter to your local council or make an insurance claim, it is a formal letter because you don’t know the recipient personally.

Another example is when you need to request vacation from your manager. This is a formal letter because you are in a professional relationship with your manager. You are not friends.

In the formal letter, you have to use a formal tone. So, when you determine that the letter is a formal one, make sure to use a formal tone.

IELTS Informal Letter

When you need to write to someone you know personally, and you are in a personal relationship, it is an informal letter.

For example, if you have to write to your friend and ask him to come and stay with you over the weekend, this is an informal letter. He is your friend, so you should use informal language.

IELTS Letter – Opening and Closing

Every letter must have an opening and closing section. You need to use an appropriate opener and closer based on the person you are writing to. For example:

  1. If you are writing to someone you don’t know, you should open the letter with Dear Sir or Madam and close it with Yours faithfully.
  2. In case you have to write a formal letter to someone you know, you should open the letter with Dear Mr/Mrs (Name) and close it with Yours sincerely.
  3. If you are writing an informal letter, open it with Dear Name, and close it with Best Wishes.


How to Structure The IELTS General Writing Task 1

Now, we will learn how to structure the letter to achieve the best possible score. If you want to learn more about how the IELTS writing task is assessed, please check out this link.

Take a look at the above IELTS letter. Each IELTS letter has a topic question and three bullet points. You should be able to understand the letter type by the topic question. In this case, it is an informal letter because you have to write to a friend.

We recommend that you write five paragraphs:

  • The first paragraph should explain why you are writing. In this case, you should write to a friend and say that you are writing to give him a suggestion about whether he/she should get a job or go to college.
  • The next three paragraphs should cover all three bullet points. We recommend that you write one paragraph for each bullet point.
  • The last paragraph should conclude the letter. For example, you can say that you hope your suggestion could be helpful.

How to Write the IELTS General Writing Task 1

We recommend that you spend 20 minutes writing the letter. So, let’s look at how 20 minutes could be used for writing it.

  1. Make sure to understand what type of letter it is — formal or informal. Once you know the letter type and what you should write, you are ready to start planning.
  2. Spend up to 3 minutes on planning the letter. You have to plan your ideas, what you are going to write, and how you will cover all the bullet points.
  3. Open the letter appropriately. How you do this depends on the letter type. The first paragraph should clearly outline the purpose of the letter. Write one or two sentences in the first paragraph.
  4. Make sure to write three paragraphs to cover all bullet points. Write 2-3 sentences for each paragraph.
  5. Write the letter conclusion and close the letter appropriately. How you do this depends on the letter type.
  6. Proofread your written letter. Make sure you are not missing this step. You don’t want to lose score because of silly mistakes. For example, you could have a spelling problem while you are aware of how the word is written, or you could have a missing article which is easy to fix. So spend 2-4 minutes on proofreading.

How to prepare for the IELTS General Writing Task 1

Let us give you some hints, how you can study further and get a high score.

  1. Vocabulary: The vocabulary counts for 25% of the writing test score. This is less about IELTS and more about English. If your English language level is good enough, and you can use a wide range of vocabulary, this part should not be challenging. Keep expanding your vocabulary.
  2. Grammar: The grammar section counts for 25% of the writing test score. Again, this is all about the English level. If you can produce error-free sentences, it will be easy to achieve a high band from the grammar part.
  3. Task Achievement and Coherence and Cohesion is something that can be achieved by structuring your letters well. We provided tips and ideas on how you can structure your letter on this page.
  4. You can start writing letters. Initially, you should spend more than 20 minutes on writing a letter; then gradually reduce the time to 20 minutes per letter.
  5. Once you have your first letters written, you want to know what score they will likely get. You should have an experienced IELTS teacher who can give you an accurate score. However, if you don’t have someone who can review and correct your letters, we can help you with it.
    Our experienced IELTS examiners can provide you with a score that will be similar to the one which you will get in the real IELTS exam. Additionally, they will also let you know which areas you can improve and why you got a particular score. If you want to submit your letters to us for checking, please sign up and start sending them.

ALISTAIR BROWN: As a writing and speaking examiner for more than 10 years, I bring a lot of experience. I have seen the frustrations that students have with IELTS from a career where I have actively guided and corrected students’ studies. I am looking for the most effective ways to teach IELTS as I understand students’ needs.