How to write the Task 1 letter for General IELTS

Task 1 for the General Training IELTS is about writing a letter – either formal, semi-formal, or informal. You are given a situation with key information to include in your letter.

What’s important are the following:

  • Addressing all parts of the task question
  • Writing in the appropriate tone for the situation. This means using the suitable words and phrases that are either formal, semi-formal or informal.
  • Writing in a logical and organized manner so that it is clear and easy for the reader to understand your letter.

Structure for your formal letter:

  1. State your reason or purpose for writing the letter.
  2. Details of your situation. Address the 3 bullet points listed in the Task question. Make a paragraph for each one.
  3. A suitable closing.

Here’s a sample task from the website:

general task 1 - dorm problem letter


First, decide the tone of the context. This would be formal as you’re requesting for a transfer. This also decides how you’ll organize your letter. For example, an informal letter would start with a greeting or making a personal reference that the person receiving the letter would understand. In a formal letter, you need to make things clear and structured.

Next, make a quick plan of  what you’re going to write for each paragraph, addressing each requirement of the task. I don’t have to write these out but make a very quick guide.

  •  Your purpose; important identifying details (room number, building)
  • Describe the situation: roommate has different priorities from me and I can’t study; he parties all the time, too noisy or invites too many people over
  • I can’t study for my exams; several of my personal items have gone missing
  • Request for another room, preferably a studio apartment (no roommates); a thank you and that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.

Now, you write your letter.

I’ll continue with a sample letter in a future post. Feel free to ask questions.

If you want to get your writing checked – see here:

Do you want to find specific information about different IELTS lessons?

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

I’ve had a lot of emailed questions and comments from students  who want to find out more about a specific lesson that they have read. If  you  want to find out more about a specific topic, please use Search by Tags . You can do this 2 ways:

  1. At the bottom of each post, there is a section that says Posted in: followed by a  list of tags (topics) that you can click on. This will bring you to all the posts that have been tagged for that topic. For example, if you want to know more about how to write introductions, click on the introductions tag.
  2. On the right side of the page of each post, you’ll see a box that says “Search by Tags” under a box that says “Check my essay”. This Search by Tags box is filled with tags (topics) of different sizes – the bigger the size of the word, the more posts there are under this tag. Click on a tag to see all the posts related to that topic.

If there are topics not covered, feel free to email me or comment and I’ll try my best to write a post on it.

Good luck everyone!

(If you see at the bottom of this post, I’ve tagged everything.)

Practice your English through the news

Day Ninety Eight Dustin Diaz via Compfight

The more you listen to or read English news, this is what happens:

  • You start to recognize more vocabulary words and phrases and in different contexts (situations in how the word is used)
  • You start to recognize different sentence structures
  • You learn more about common topics that are useful for your exam. You learn about different viewpoints that you can use in writing your essays.

Here are some good general news websites:

Another useful tool is  Google Alerts. Set up alerts to specific topics or words/phrases that come up in the news or blogs and it will send you an email about it.

These are just a few news sites especially catered for English language learners. If you find some that are useful, please add them to the comments below and I’ll include them in the list.

So have a go and make it a habit to read and listen to news every day, even for 10 minutes a day. Take note of anything new that you’ve learned. This could be a vocabulary word, or an idea or viewpoint about a popular topic as you might be able to use that idea in your essay writing.

Want to improve your writing for IELTS Task 1 and Task 2?

Happy studentThank you readers for registering for my lessons. I’ve been COMPLETELY  BOOKED!!

If you’re thinking of registering for a writing lesson, I would still love to help you though, so I  have some suggestions.

Try out my ESSAY CORRECTION AND FEEDBACK SERVICE. If you want to get thorough individualized feedback and suggestions on an IELTS essay you’ve written, try at least writing one essay to see where your current level is and what areas you need to improve.

I can email you a task, you write your essay and send back it to me. You then receive:

  • Corrections and comments directly on your essay (view your Word document with review settings)
  • A Feedback rubric that analyzes the following questions based on’s own grading criteria for Task1 and Task 2:
  1. Task Achievement:  Did you answer the question(s) and cover all the requirements that are asked?
  2. Coherence and cohesion: Structure and organization of your essay –  Are your paragraphs centered around a main idea? Is your essay logically organized so it is easy to follow?
  3. Lexical Accuracy: What range of vocabulary did you use?
  4. Grammatical range and accuracy: How is your grammar? What needs to be improved and how?

To find out more, REGISTER here.Check My Essay !

You can also read step-by-step how to write the academic Task 1 essay with my ebook. AVAILABLE HERE.

Click on same photo below to find out about this ebook!

Click on same photo below to find out about this ebook!

Due to high demand, another ebook for Task 2 will be coming! I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, good luck with your studies!

How to write the balanced/neutral Task 2 essay – To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Finding balance

“Finding balance”

Kristina Alexanderson via Compfight

I wrote a full sample essay to this type of question – see this post: Sample IELTS Task 2 essay for agree disagree.

A good question came up from a reader:

The question type “to what extent do you agree or disagree” seems rather confusing to me. On the Road To IELTS website, they always present both points of views but is it just as good only to agree or disagree as you have done here?

Here’s my answer to that:

Depending on the question and topic, I think it’s best to go with what you feel comfortable with and find the easiest to write. If you can come up with two main points to support a complete agree or complete disagree, then do that.

If you feel that you have  more of a balanced/neutral view where you can quickly think of one strong main support for agree and one strong main support for disagree and therefore want to present both views, then do that. Just make sure that you state in the introduction that you have a balanced or neutral view.

Here’s a quick outline:

1st paragraph: Introduction – see my post on How to write introductions quickly . Again, remember to state that you have a balanced view here.

2nd paragraph: Main point for supporting/agreeing with detailed examples/support… On one hand, I feel that…

3rd paragraph: Main point for disagreeing with detailed examples/support… On the other hand, it is apparent that….

4th paragraph: Short conclusion