IELTS General Training Writing Task 1: Formal Letters

IELTS general training writing task 1

In the writing module of the general training test, IELTS gives you a letter-writing task in which you need to write a formal, semi-formal, or informal letter. While all these letters follow the same structure, the language you use in each type is different. In this article, we’re going to go through a formal letter step by step and learn how it should be written.

Basic information and tips for formal letters

You need to learn the following tips and information before starting to write a letter:

Choose appropriate greeting and ending

  • You know the name of the recipient: 
    • Begin with “Dear Mr. [Last name],”
    • End with “Yours sincerely,”
  • You don’t know the name of the recipient:
    • Begin with “Dear Sir or Madam,”
    • End with “Yours faithfully,”

Dos and don’ts of formal letters

  • Use would, could, and would like instead of will, can, and want
  • Use words or phrases that are formal (e.g. purchase instead of buy or  satisfied instead of happy)
  • Be polite and respectful even if it’s a letter of complaint
  • Don’t use contractions like I’m, he’s, it’s, etc.
  • Don’t use idioms or phrasal verbs
  • Don’t use slang
 

The structure of a letter

You need five paragraphs to write your letters. Some of the paragraphs will only have one line, which is fine in letter writing. Avoid writing irrelevant data and keep the word count between 150 and 200.

I highly recommend that you follow this structure for your letters:

Greeting

Paragraph 1: Short sentence for the purpose of the letter.

Paragraph 2: Discuss the first bullet point

Paragraph 3: Discuss the second bullet point

Paragraph 4: Discuss the third bullet point

Paragraph 5: Final sentence (closing statement)

Sign off

Your full name

Steps in Writing a letter

  1. Read and highlight the keywords
  2. Decide on the purpose of the letter
  3. Choose the right tone 
  4. Think of ideas for each bullet point (planning)
  5. Write your letter
  6. Review the letter and correct your mistakes

This is the task we’re going to work on in this article:

You recently spent a few days at a hotel. When you returned home, you found you had left some important papers at the hotel. Write a letter to the manager of the hotel. In your letter:

  • Say where you think you left the papers
  • Explain why they are so important
  • Tell the manager what you want him/her to do

Step 1: Read and highlight the keywords

………………………………………………………………………..
You recently spent a few days at a hotel. When you returned home, you found you had left some important papers at the hotel. Write a letter to the manager of the hotel. In your letter:
  • Say where you think you left the papers
  • Explain why they are so important
  • Tell the manager what you want him/her to do
………………………………………………………………………..
Underlining or highlighting the key information helps you stay on topic and makes it easier for you to plan your letter.

Step 2: Decide on the purpose of the letter

What is the letter about? Is it a letter of complaint, instruction, advice, application, request, resignation, arrangement, or acceptance?

In this particular letter, you should write a letter to a hotel manager and politely ask him or her to look for your papers and send them to you. So it’s a letter of request.

Step 3: Choose the right tone

This is the step that many test takers find the most challenging. How do you know if it is going to be a formal letter?

Your letter should be formal if:

  • The rubric asks you to begin the letter with “Dear Sir or Madam,”
  • You’re writing to someone you don’t know
  • It’s about an important professional or business situation to someone you know formally (e.g. the CEO of your company, dean of the faculty, an authority, etc)

Step 4: Think of ideas for each bullet point

First bullet point: Say where you think you left the papers

room number, check-in and check-out dates, where in the room

Second bullet point: Explain why they are so important

was on business, signed contracts, significant loss without them

Third bullet point: Tell the manager what you want him/her to do

looking for them, send them to my address

Step 5: Write your letter

Now, use the ideas in your plan and start writing your letter. Since this is a formal letter and we don’t know the name of the manager, this is what the letter should look like:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I am writing in regards to an unfortunate mistake I made when I left your hotel (Hilton Palace) on June 25. It appears that I forgot a few key documents in my room.

During my three-day stay in room number 401, I kept my meeting documents in a green folder inside the drawer next to the window. Unfortunately, I left the room for the airport in such haste that I forgot to bring them.

The purpose of the visit was a vital business mission on behalf of my company with the goal of signing a contract with one of the firms in the city. I am solely responsible for those papers and any misuse or loss of data would result in a significant loss of profit to both companies.

Therefore, I would very much appreciate it if you searched for the papers and sent them to the address enclosed in the envelope. Of course, I would be ready to bear the postage cost through the card I used to reserve the room.

Thank you in advance for your kind help.

Yours faithfully,

John Smith

Step 6: Review the letter and correct your mistakes

This step is essential to maximizing your score. Fewer mistakes = higher scores.

Final note: You shouldn’t spend more than 20 minutes on this task, so make sure you have covered all the requirements of the tasks and been concise.

Personalized feedback and more guides:

Share this post with your friends

Facebook
X
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Reddit