As you sit down to work on IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, you will find that you are given a situation. You need to write a letter in response to the given instructions. But, there are different formats of writing a letter.

Each format requires different style of writing – definite starting and closing salutation, formal and informal expressions, and various type of grammatical forms. As you will read this post, you will come to know how the letter writing forms for IELTS Test vary depending on the person it is written to.

But before you begin writing your task 1, you must –

  • Read the given instructions carefully
  • Identify the type of letter
  • Understand the purpose of letter
  • Plan the format of your letter

And then, you can start writing. If you don’t take these points into consideration you won’t score high, no matter how well you write.

Once you read the instructions, you have to decide in which format you will frame your letter.

Identify The Type of Letter You are Asked to Write

The very first thing that you need to do is recognize what type of letter the question demands you to write.

  • Formal Letter
  • Informal Letter

But, how will you know which type of letter you must write? It’s simple! You need to identify the purpose for which you are going to write.

Understand The Purpose of The Letter

You can recognize the letter type by checking –

  • What type of situation is given?
  • Whether you know the name of the person you are writing to or not

If you are writing a letter of complaint, signing up business contract, applying for new job or resigning from an existing one, it will always be a formal letter. One more thing about formal letters is that you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to.

An example will help you understand it in a better way.

You live in a room in college which you can share with another student. However, there are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work.

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter

  • Describe the situation
  • Explain your problems and why it is difficult to work
  • Say what kind of accommodation you would prefer

Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Source: Cambridge English

In the above example, you don’t know the name of the accommodation officer. So, you have to write a formal letter.

If you are writing a letter for inviting someone you know for a birthday party, thanking a friend or asking for an advice, it is always an informal letter. You will know the name of the person you are writing to in case of informal letters.

Here is an illustration to make you clear about informal letters.

A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on a holiday.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

  • Give contact details for when you are away
  • Give instructions about how to care for your pet
  • Describe other household duties

Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear …….,

Source: British Council

Once you recognize the purpose of the letter and its type, you must begin your letter with proper salutation.

Use Appropriate Salutation

Depending on the style of your letter, the opening and closing salutations vary.

Style of Letter Opening Closing


Dear Sir/Madam,

Yours faithfully,

John Brown


Dear Alexa,

Best Wishes,

Steve Stone

After the opening salutation, write an opening statement which explains the reason for writing the letter.

Start With a Suitable Opening Statement & End with a Proper Signing Off Statement

The letter opening and signing off statement differ based on the style of letter you are writing.

For example,

Style of Letter Opening Statement Closing Statement


I am writing this letter to ask if I could please be given another room in college.

I look forward to hearing from you.


I hope you are doing well. I’m writing to ask you a favour. I’m not in the town for few days. So, it would be great if you look after my house and pet as well.

It’ll be pleasure to catch up again soon. Give my best to everyone in the family.

Planning Your Letter

Writing a letter with proper planning in the IELTS Test is very important as it will definitely help you achieve a high Band Score.

As seen in the above examples, the instruction for IELTS General Writing Task 1 will consist of three bullet points. Remember, it is essential to cover those points to structure your letter. If you fail to include any of the given points, you will get a low Band Score.

So, here is a letter structure that you must follow.

Opening Salutation

Opening Statement

Paragraph 1 – 1st bullet point

Paragraph 2 – 2nd bullet point

Paragraph 3 – 3rd bullet point

Signing Off Statement

Closing Salutation

Though letter writing task in the IELTS Exam appear to be the easiest for most of the aspirants, it’s still important to familiarize yourself with formal and informal letter writing. It is always better to do IELTS writing practice with sample questions and take a note if you are improving or not. To help you do that, IELTS Tutorials offer Writing Correction Service. You too can benefit from the same as we assess writing tasks. You can thus strengthen your strong points and notice your mistakes that you overlook most of the times.

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