IELTS General Writing Task 1

The writing task 1 of the General module of IELTS  is letter writing. Candidates will be allotted 20 minutes to complete the task and the minimum word count is 150. It comprises 33% of your writing scores. Marking criteria is as follows:

  • Task achievement – 25%
  • Coherence and cohesion – 25%
  • Vocabulary – 25%
  • Grammar – 25%

In Task 1 of the General module, candidates will get a question which will contain some instructions regarding the letter.

Types of letters

Letters can be categorised into three main types. They are:

  • Formal 
  • Semi-formal 
  • Informal

Formal letters

These types of letters are addressed to someone whom you don’t know.

Begins with: Dear Sir/Madam

Ends with: Yours faithfully/ Yours sincerely


You placed an online order for a flower vase. However, when you received it, it was damaged. Write a letter to the manager of the company.

In your letter, you should:

  • Give the details about the equipment.
  • Explain the damage.
  • Suggest what you want the manager to do.

Semi-formal letters

These types of letters are addressed to someone whom you know formally.

Begins with: Dear Mr.Rad

Ends with: Best wishes/All the Best


You live in an apartment for rent. Your neighbour makes a lot of noise which has caused problems for you. Write a letter to your house owner..

In your letter, you should:

  • Explain the situation.
  • Tell the house owner how you are affected by this.
  • Suggest what you want the house owner to do.

Informal letters

These letters are addressed to someone whom you know personally.

Begins with: Dear Susan

Ends with: Warm regards


Write a letter to your neighbour (who is also your friend) about the damage that occurs to your car while he parks his car in the space allotted to you.

In the letter, you should:

  • Describe the damage
  • Say how you feel about this problem.
  • Suggest on actions he should take.

If you observe carefully, all the questions (examples) above fall under the topic “Complaint”. But their types vary based on how well you know the person. So it is very important to identify the type of the letter before beginning to write on it.

Structure of a letter

  • Greeting
  • Purpose of the letter
  • Paragraph 1 
  • Paragraph 2 
  • Sign-off 

Language used

You should use the right language for each type of letter. 

Formal language

Example: I require your assistance to purchase a diamond Jewelry for my wife.

Semi-formal language

Example: I need your help in buying a diamond Jewellery for my wife.

Informal language

Example: How about hopping along with me to the Jewellery shop and helping me to select a piece of diamond jewellery for my wife?

Where to use contractions?

You can use contractions like “I’ll come” in  informal and semi formal types of letters. It should be avoided in formal letters where you will have to use “I will come”.

Plan how to write your letter

  • First of all, identify the type of the letter.
  • Read the instructions carefully so that you address all parts of the question.
  • Decide how to greet 
  • Decide on the language to be used based on the type of the letter.
  • Decide the sign-off for the letter
  • Decide on what content to write for each of the body paragraphs.

Some of the letter topics that you can practise:

  • Invitation
  • Recommendation
  • Amendment
  • Apology
  • Application
  • Accomodation
  • Complaint

What the examiner is looking for in your letter ?

  • Is the purpose of the letter mentioned
  • Are all the three points (given in the question) covered
  • Are the paragraphs organised properly
  • Usage of appropriate vocabulary
  • Usage of appropriate tense 
  • How error free are the sentence structures?