IELTS General Training Writing Tips for Task 1

Still struggling to compose formal, semi-formal, and personal letters despite weeks of IELTS review online sessions? Worried that this may cost you your band score goals? If so, don’t be. Supercharge your performance in the first task of the IELTS General Training’s writing exam with the following tips.

IELTS review

        1.    Learn the difference between the three letter types.
Formal, semi-formal, and personal letters don’t just differ in tone and language. They also vary when it comes to structure. Here’s what you need to know about each letter type’s format.

·         Formal letters are addressed to people you don’t know, like the company or university you’re planning to apply to after you take the IELTS exam. They start with a “Dear Sir/Madam” and end with a “Yours faithfully” followed by your complete name.

·         Semi-formal letters are addressed to people you know but are not close to, like your professor or work manager. They start with a “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms.” followed by the last name of the recipient. They end with a “Your sincerely” followed by your complete name.

·         Personal letters are addressed to people you personally know, like your friends and family. They start with “Dear” followed by the first name of the recipient. They end with a “Warm/Best regards” followed by your first name.

Keep these in mind when you answer letter-writing mock exams during your IELTS review Philippines classes.

         2.    Consider the purpose of the letter.
If the receiver is someone who doesn’t fall neatly under a specific type (e.g., a professor that also happens to be your aunt), consider the letter’s purpose. It’ll help you identify which format to use. Check out the guide below.

·         Application letters are always formal.
·         Resignation letters are always formal.
·         Complaint letters are usually formal.
·         Invitations can be semi-formal or personal.
·         Explanatory letters can be semi-formal or personal.
·         Informative letters can be semi-formal or personal.

Instances when the recipient is hard to categorize are extremely rare in the IELTS exam. Still, it pays to know what to do if you encounter one.

        3.    Review your final work.
Your letter will be scored based on the variety and appropriateness of its word choice (Lexical Resource), its structure and content consistency (Coherence and Cohesion), its adherence to language rules (Grammar Range and Accuracy), and how well it addressed the tasks requirements (Task Achievement). Keep these criteria in mind when you proofread your final work.

Check for inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and transitions. Remove redundant passages and fix run-on sentences. Make sure your letter contains all the details listed in the task’s bullet points. Practice your proofreading skills during your IELTS review online.

Want to learn more ways to enhance your exam performance? Find the best provider of IELTS review in the Philippines and enroll in one of their courses!


Kuangyan. “Tips for Writing Letters in IELTS General Training.” Magoosh. September 2, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2018.

Liz. “IELTS Letter Writing: 10 Essential Tips.” IELTS Liz. December 24, 2014. Accessed September 7, 2018.

Pell, Christopher. “IELTS General Writing: Your General Training Guide.” IELTS Advantage. Accessed September 7, 2018.

“Test Format in Detail.” IELTS. Accessed September 7, 2018.

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