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While preparing for IELTS General Training - Writing Task 1, know what features the examiners look for in a letter.  

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.

State the 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 letter

Informal 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:



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)

Use the right 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: 


Informal or semi-formal: written to a friend, colleague or someone you know

Dear Sir/ Madam

Formal: 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 structures

Informal vocabulary and structures









At your earliest convenience

When you are free


Write back/ reply



Yours sincerely/ faithfully

Best wishes/ love


And/ also

Can I suggest

Can I tell you

As you described above

As 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

Include bullet points presented in the question

When writing a letter as part of the 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: 


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.  

3. First type of accommodation 

4. 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.

Structure your letter

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 Andrew

Opening salutation or 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 up

Concluding letter (rounding off statement).

Best wishes

Closing salutation must be included for appropriate letter format.


Your 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 

Practice makes perfect

Preparing early for your test is essential. It allows you to get familiar with the test format and understand how you will be marked and scored. The good news is we have a range of free and paid material to give you feedback from official IELTS experts on your progress. This can help you focus your preparation.

Additionally, don't forget to access your study plan and get IELTS tips from our IELTS Experts during our Masterclasses.

Once you're ready, book your IELTS test here!