General IELTS Writing Task 1

Writing a letter

IELTS Writing Task 1 Writing a letter


Read the instructions Carefully

The instructions of the task tell you about:

  • The purpose: why you are writing the letter?
  • The content: what you will write in the letter?
  • The recipient: who you are writing the letter to?

Knowing the recipient of your letter will determine what kind of style and language you will use. For that reason it is crucial for you to read the instructions carefully so you know who you are writing to. As we all know, you cannot use the same writing style that you use with your friend, when you write to the CEO of a large company.

On the other hand, the content and the purpose will help you with what you need to write inside the letter as well as the overall structure of the letter.

Next we’ll have a look at the 3 different types of letters.

The 3 Different Types of Letters

There are three types of letters in the General IELTS task 1:

  • A formal letter: someone you don’t know:e.g. The manager of a company
  • A semi formal letter: someone you know a little bit: e.g. your teacher, your boss
  • A personal or informal letter: someone you know very well : e.g. your friend

Looking back at the previous examples:

  • Example 1: the recipient your friend is a personal/informal letter.
  • Example 2: the recipient your teacher is a semi formal letter.
  • Example 3: the person organising the seminar is a formal letter.


 Want to check if you understand the difference between the letter types? Try our little quiz.

As said before the type of letter will not only influence your style and language use, but it will determine how you should open (start) and close (finish) your letter.

Opening and Closing for the 3 different letters

How you open/start and close your letter depends on the recipient. This means who you write to determines not only the beginning and ending of your letter, but also the formality or style of your letter.

Formal letters

  • Opening:
    • Dear Sir/Madam:if you don’t know who you are writing to
    • Dear Mr./Miss/Mrs.+ the last name of the recipient: if you do know the person
  • Closing:
    • Yours faithfully + your full name

Semi-formal letters

  • Opening: Dear Mr./Miss/Mrs.+ the last name of the recipient
  • Closing: Yours sincerely + your full name

Informal letters

  • Opening: Dear + the first name of the recipient
  • Closing: Best regards/ kind regards + your first name

Again looking at the different examples:

Now you know how to start your letter and finish it, next we will have a look at how to structure your letter.

How to structure your Letter

Formal/ semi-formal letter

Paragraph 1: start with stating the purpose of your letter.


  • I am writing this letter with regards to…
  • I am writing to express my…
  • I am writing to inform you…

Informal letters

Paragraph 1: First a greeting then state your purpose


  • How are you doing?
  • I hope you are doing well.
  • How have you been?

Looking at the 3 examples again we will get the following examples:

You now have written your opening and your first paragraph, next is the main body or the real content of the letter.

Main body

There are different ways to structure the body of the task. You could split up the different content points and put them each in a separate paragraph. You could also just group relevant information together in 2 or 3 paragraph. For the different examples there will be different structures:

After the main body it is time to finish your letter and write your conclusion.


Formal or semi-formal letters

Your conclusion should be one of the following points:

  • A call for action: If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  • Express thanks: Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • Ask for a response: I look forward to hearing from you.

Informal letters

  • I can’t wait to hear from you.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

Let’s look at the different examples again

Final review and correction

We all know you only have 20 minutes to write the whole letter and you do need some time to read the question, and think of some possible answers. Still, you will need about 2 minutes at the end to review and correct your writing. This is extremely important as it will give you the opportunity to correct your mistakes and maybe change some of the words you repeat for synonyms. This will help you improve your accuracy and with it your overall score. So, do take the time for this, these 2 minutes of your time could make your overall score go up with 1 full point (0.5 for accuracy and 0.5 for lexis)

Now let’s put it all together and have a look at the 3 examples together:

Examples of General IELTS writing task 1 a letter

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Useful links

Writing correction

Send us your writing Task 1 or Task 2 and let a teacher correct and give feedback on it.

General Writing Task 1

Have a look at Task 1 of the IELTS Writing exam.

Writing a letter

Have a look at how to write a letter for General Writing Task 1, what kind of different letters there are and how to structure it.

Writing Task 2

Have a look at Task 2 of the Writing exam.

5 different question types

Have a look at the 5 different question types you have for the IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

Agree and Disagree Questions

Have a look at how to deal with agree and disagree questions in IELTS Writing Task 2

Agree and disagree Examples

have a look at some IELTS Agree/ disagree Writing Examples 

Linker Practice

Practice using some linkers/ connectors for IELTS Writing Task 2

If you have any further questions send us a comment and we’ll help you as much as possible.

2 Responses

    1. Hello James,

      Thanks very much, I’m always happy when I can help someone. If there is anything else I can do to help just let me know

      Good luck with your IELTS exam,

      IELTSassistance teacher

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