IELTS General Writing Task 1

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In the general training version of the IELTS writing exam, you are required to write a letter.

There are only really two types of letters that you can be asked to write; a formal letter or an informal one. Your ability to choose language that matches the required level of formality will therefore be considered when assessing your letter.

You should write at least 150 words for this task and spend no more than 20 minutes. When practising, aim to produce letters of 170-180 words in about 15-18 minutes.


The first thing you will need to decide when writing your letter is whether it needs to be formal or informal. In English, we use formal language with people we don’t know or who are in positions of power. With our friends, we use informal English unless we are addressing them in a position of authority (for example if your boss also happens to be your friend).

With your friends, you might be in the habit of using a lot of slang. It is best to avoid this in IELTS. IELTS examiners are not typically young people who use slang themselves and they may misinterpret your slang as incorrect use of English.

Similarly, when writing a formal letter, that doesn’t mean we need to be overly polite or formal. We may still need to be fairly direct about what we want and this may mean presuming that the reader will take action. If not, we should use phrases that are likely to convince them to take action e.g. “I strongly urge you to…”

Practice Questions and Sample Answers

The following letter writing tasks could appear in the IELTS general writing task 1. You are advised to attempt as many of these tasks as you can before your exam.

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