Letter Writing Tips for IELTS General Training Test Takers

Developing your letter-writing skills should be one of your priorities if you’re taking the IELTS General Training exam. Why? Because it’s the first task of the writing exam.

In Writing Task 1, you will be required to compose a response letter to a given situation. But, it’s not as simple as writing the first thing that comes to your mind. Aside from the context, the task also details the various information that you must include or address in your letter. You’ll be scored based on how well you follow English letter writing conventions (e.g., format, language style, etc.).

So, don’t underestimate the IELTS writing test. Enroll in an excellent IELTS online course to get to know the test inside out and get access to on-point mock exams. Adopt the following letter-writing tips to get a high score on the writing exam.

ielts general training

  1. Determine what letter format you should use from the get-go.
    Your response letter can be formal, semi-formal, or informal/personal depending on the provided context. But, how can you determine which type to use? Simple, just consider your letter’s recipient.

Write a formal letter if it’s for someone you have never met before or a person of authority. Compose a semi-formal letter if it’s for someone you know very well (e.g., your college professor). And, of course, if it’s for someone you know personally, write an informal letter.

Once you’ve determined the type of letter that’s appropriate to the given context, writing your letter should be easy.

  1. Open and close your letter correctly.
    How you start and finish your composition depend on the type of letter you’re writing. Memorize the guide below to avoid mix-ups when you take the IELTS General Training exam.
  • Formal Letter

Opening: Dear Sir/Madam

Closing: Yours faithfully

If you don’t know the name of the recipient, a “Dear Sir/Madam” will suffice. There’s no need for witty salutations.

  • Semi-Formal Letter

Opening: Dear Mr. Reyes / Dear Mrs. Sanchez

Closing: Yours sincerely

Address the recipient simply by their surname.

  • Informal Letter

Opening: Dear Mom / Dear Uncle Carlos / Dear Lilia

Closing: Warm regards / Best regards / Warm wishes

Address the recipient simply by their familial relationship to you (“Dear Dad”) and/or their first name (“Dear Aunt Sara” or “Dear Mila”).

Also, it’s not advisable to just wing it and go with what sounds formal or casual enough for your letter. The examiners of the IELTS General Training are very particular about how you open and close your letter. You’ll lose points if you don’t use the correct one.

  1. Plan your letter.
    Consider the issues that you need to address and the information that you need to include in your letter. Then, come up with an outline. Here are some useful tips to help you structure your letter.
  • When writing a formal letter, the first thing you need to do is establish your purpose. Start with “I am writing with regard to…” or something similar. Then, follow it up with supporting details. End your letter with a call to action (e.g., “I look forward to receiving your reply”) to emphasize the urgency of your message.
  • When writing a semi-formal letter, you need to provide the reason why you’re writing after your salutations. Make sure there’s a logical transition to your ideas. Cap of your letter with a call to action (e.g., “If you have any concerns about the points I raise, please feel free to contact me.”).
  • When writing an informal letter, you can be a bit witty with your greetings. You can start with everyday conversations starters (e.g., “How have you been?”). Just don’t forget to mention why you’re writing. Conclude your letter with a casual call to action (e.g., “I’m so excited for your reply.”).
  1. Proofread your work.
    Never skip this step in your letter-writing process. Double check the spelling of all the names you mentioned. Make sure there are no inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, and structure.

At a glance, writing a response letter is an easy task. In truth, it is anything but. So, don’t cut corners during your test preparations. Use these tips to develop and refine your letter-writing tips. Enroll in an IELTS online course to learn more tips and tricks that can help you ace the high-stakes exam.


“IELTS General Reading Practice Tests | IELTS Essentials. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.ieltsessentials.com/global/blog/2017/07/25/advice-for-ielts-general-training-task-1-letters.

“IELTS General Writing: Semi-formal Letter?” Ielts-simon.com. Accessed May 31, 2018. http://ielts-simon.com/ielts-help-and-english-pr/2016/01/ielts-general-writing-semi-formal-letter.html.

“IELTS Letter, Topic: An Explanation for a Relative.” IELTS-Blog. Accessed May 31, 2018. http://www.ielts-blog.com/ielts-writing-samples/ielts-letters-band-8/ielts-letter-topic-personal-an-explanation-for-a-relative/.

“IELTS Letter Writing: 10 Essential Tips.” IELTS Liz. Accessed May 31, 2018. http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-letter-writing-essential-tips/.

“IELTS Task 1 Letter Writing Advice for General Training.” Tips for Keeping on Time During the IELTS Test. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://ieltscanadatest.com/2017/03/ielts-task-1-letter-writing-advice-for-general-training/.

Nordquist, Richard. “Personal Letters: Examples and Writing Guidelines.” ThoughtCo. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.thoughtco.com/personal-letter-composition-1691499.

Pell, Christopher. “IELTS General Writing: Your General Training Guide—IELTS Advantage.” Home. August 09, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.ieltsadvantage.com/2017/08/09/ielts-general-writing/.

Pell, Christopher. “Formal IELTS Letters—Task 1 General Training.” Home. September 19, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.ieltsadvantage.com/2015/06/07/how-to-write-a-formal-ielts-letter/.

“Test Format in Detail.” IELTS. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format-in-detail

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