IELTS Task 1 Letter Writing Advice for General Training

13 Mar 2017
IELTS Task 1 Letter Writing Advice for General Training

As a tutor, I know that it’s difficult to find advice about this form of writing task so I’m hoping this series will be helpful to you. To better prepare for your General Training Letter Writing, we’ve put together a blog series to highlight the best ideas to ensure your success. In part one we break down the Task 1 Letter writing for General Training. 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I just registered for the IELTS General Training exam and I am writing for some advice about Task 1 letters.

To be honest, I have a lot of questions but I will start with organization. I write emails, but I am not sure if I can write a proper letter? How do I know if I am arranging my ideas correctly on the test?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,


Mrs. Fatima Gerwash

Dear Mrs. Gerwash,

Thank you for your letter. I would be happy to help you prepare for the writing test.

You are smart to ask about the format of the IELTS letter because although written letters and emails have similarities, the IELTS letter is a test. The way you organize your ideas will definitely affect your score. 

The good news is that you already know a lot about the correct structure. In your letter, you began with a salutation. You used “Dear Sir or Madam” which was appropriate because you did not know my name. You also ended with the complimentary closing “Yours faithfully” signaling that the letter was finishing. Finally, to close, you ended with your signature. IELTS candidates lose points for ignoring these little details, so well done!

In between the salutation and closing is the body of the letter and it is made up of short paragraphs that are organized in a simple and logical way. In fact, if you address each of the bullets from the task assignment in a separate paragraph, you can be confident that your letter will be easier to follow. 

To help you out further, I am including some useful tips for organization with this letter and a model question and answer. 

If you have more questions, we can arrange a meeting. Please telephone me at my office here in Toronto and we will set up an appointment.

I hope you find this information useful and good luck with your studies.

Yours sincerely,


Mrs. Angela Rutherford


Here are some tips for organizing your ideas in IELTS letters:

  1. Make sure the main purpose of the letter is clear from the beginning to the end.
  1. Open the letter with a short explanation of the purpose and close the letter with a call to action that relates to this purpose.
  1. Each body paragraph should be about one central subject indicated by the task bullet points. 
  1. Let the first sentence of the paragraph communicate the subject in some way.
  2. Either indent the first line of each paragraph or separate the paragraphs from each other with a space.
  1. Think about how your sentences relate to each other and use your words to clearly guide the reader from one thought to the next.

For example, where appropriate:

  1. Use sequencers – “To begin with . . . Finally, . . .”
  2. Introduce your ideas with markers – The reason why I need time off . . . The solution to this problem is . . .
  3. Use specific linking words to show contrast, similarity, cause – “similarly, however, as a result . . .”
  1. Avoid repeating key nouns in your answer.  Don’t be boring and repetitive – you want to show that you have a variety of words in your vocabulary bank.
  1. Think of synonyms for words that you are repeating (the problem, this issue, these complications, another annoyance . . .)
  2. Use pronouns (he, they, these . . .)


Sample Question and Model Answer

  You recently ordered a small item online but when it arrived it was damaged.

  Write a letter to the company that sold you the item:

   – give details about the order you made

  – explain what was wrong with the item

  – tell the company what you want them to do about it

* Check back for more advice on letter writing – Fatima has more questions about tone and writing letters about unfamiliar subjects.


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