IELTS Letter Writing tips

IELTS Letter Writing Tips: A Complete Guide to Achieve Best Score

August 26, 2020

Right approach and technique are required to get a high score in the IELTS Letter Writing task. Once you know all the right strategies, you will be able to deliver the best of your ability.

The following IELTS Letter Writing Tips will help you to get that perfect score you want for your eligibility requirement.

  1. Letter Writing
  2. Types of Letter Writing
  3. Opening Statement
  4. Signing Off
  5. Grammar - Formal and Informal
  6. Vocabulary - Formal and Informal:
  7. Spelling and Punctuation
  8. Right Structure
  9. Effective Planning
  10. IELTS Letter Writing Strategies

1. Letter Writing:

Letter writing is the first task of the IELTS General Writing Exam. You will be asked to write a letter and also will be given a certain number of instructions for your task.

General instructions will help you to find the type of letter. Every letter has a purpose, and you will need to identify this before you start writing it because it will help you understand the points to cover, the type of letter you're expected to write and more.

2. Types of Letter Writing:

There are three types of IELTS Letter Writing; Formal Letter, Semi-formal Letter and Informal Letter. Each letter has a different purpose and writing style.

With different style, each letter has a distinct beginning and signing off. Once you identify the type of letter by reading all the instructions, you can focus on the vocabulary and contractions to be used.

Here are the examples for all the types of letter writing:

IELTS Informal Letter

You write a personal letter to someone who has a close relationship with you about social and personal situations.

Write a letter inviting your friend to your wedding. In your letter:

  • tell your friend about your wedding
  • explain why their presence at your wedding is important to you
  • suggest that they will stay with you at your place

IELTS Semi-formal Letter

You write a semi-formal letter to someone whom you know personally, such as friends, neighbours, or have a formal relationship with, such as colleagues.

Writing a semi-formal letter means you know that person, but you share a formal bonding with them.

Your neighbours use loudspeakers, and that disturbs you. Write a complaint letter to the secretary of the society. In your letter:

  • tell that your neighbours are bothering you with the loudspeakers
  • explain the whole situation to your secretary
  • ask for the secretary's help by intervening in the situation

IELTS Formal Letter

After discussing informal and semi-formal letters, you must have got a little idea about the formal letter.

You write a formal letter to someone whom you don't know personally and have a formal relationship with them or someone whom you have never met about a serious and formal situation.

You are interested in applying for the scholarship program at a foreign university for your post-graduation.

Write a letter to inquire about the course. In your letter:

  • explain which course you are interested in
  • tell what you like about the university
  • explain why you want to get admission to that university

Please find the list below for some common letter contents.

It is to give an idea of the type of letter; you will identify the style of letter when you will read the given instructions in the IELTS Letter Writing Exam.

  • For any complaints (formal)
  • For inviting (personal or semi-formal)
  • Any applications or resignations (formal)
  • To make a request (common)
  • For making arrangements (formal)
  • For an explanation (semi-formal or informal)
  • Informative/newsletter (informal/semi-formal and sometimes formal)
  • To apologise (common)

3. Opening Statement:

Your opening statement should explain your purpose for writing the letter. The purpose would differ based on the type of letter, and it will be easy for you to identify the letter type.

IELTS Letter Writing Example

Answer: A - Formal Letter, B - Informal Letter, C - Semi-formal Letter

4. Signing Off:

The signing off plays a vital role in the letter-writing task and would solely depend on the writing style and your purpose for writing the letter.

Familiarise yourself with the final statement for your letter that you can use in the IELTS Letter Writing exam. But before that, there are a few points that you need to keep in your mind.

Use 'Sir/Ma'am' when you are not aware of the addressee's name. When you know their names and writing a formal letter, you use either 'full name' of 'Mr (Last name)' and in case of writing an informal letter, don't use their last name.

Have a look:

  • Formal Letter (When you don't know the name) - Dear Sir/Ma'am = Yours faithfully, Jack Smith
  • Formal Letter (When you know the name) - Dear Mr. Smith = Yours sincerely, Mr Grey
  • Formal Letter & Semi-formal Letter (When you know the name) - Dear Will Smith = Yours sincerely
  • Informal Letter & Semi-formal Letter (When you know the name) - Hi Mike / Dear Mike = See you soon, / Take care, / All the best, Jack (Don't use the last name in the informal letter)
IELTS Letter Writing Exam

Answer: A - Informal Letter, B - Formal Letter

5. Grammar - Formal and Informal:

The biggest question arises with the usage of contractions because many IELTS aspirants are not aware of it.

It would help if you remembered that contractions be used only in informal letters because contractions don't look. Therefore you cannot use contractions in the formal letters.

Be more formal while writing the formal letter, for example, "I am writing this letter with regards to...". On the other hand for semi-formal, write "I am writing this letter about�" and for informal letter write "I want to say�".

The goal should be to adapt to the right style for writing a letter. Use a variety of grammatical sentence types and structures to fetch the high score for the IELTS Writing Task 1.

6. Vocabulary - Formal and Informal:

Be careful with the using of words for the formal and informal letter.

Find below some examples to know the main difference between the formal and informal way of writing a letter.

  • The meeting is scheduled on Thursday; please be on time = We can meet on this Thursday. See you soon.
  • I would like you to accept my resignation letter = Join me this weekend for the concert.
  • Unfortunately, I would not be able to join you for the conference = Sorry, this time it's not possible for me to join you.

7. Spelling and Punctuation:

Wrong spellings and punctuation will lead you to low IELTS writing score. Spend the last 2 minutes to review your letter to check for any errors in the spelling and punctuation.

8. Right Structure:

IELTS aspirants often make mistakes by writing all the points into a single paragraph. It would be best if you organised your thoughts into different paragraphs.

The examiner will also assess your ability to use effective paragraphing. Here is the most used standard structure for the IELTS Letter Writing that you can also use in the exam.

In those three body paragraphs, you can explain all the points given in the instruction. Go through the structure once to know how a perfect letter should be for the IELTS exam.

Right Structure for a Letter

  • Title
  • Opening Statement - Purpose for writing the letter
  • Body Paragraph 1 (Describe the first point)
  • Body Paragraph 2 (Describe the second point)
  • Body Paragraph 3 (Describe the third point)
  • Closing statement
  • Signing off
  • Name

9. Effective Planning:

Your planning should start even before you begin with your writing. There is no harm to invest initial 3-5 minutes for the planning to write a letter because once you start writing a letter, there is no turning back for making any strategy.

Below is the format that you can use for your IELTS Letter Writing so that you can plan well before your exam.

  • Check all the given instructions for the letter writing
  • Identify the type of letter you will write
  • Know what all points you will include in your letter writing
  • Decide how many paragraphs you will need for your letter to put each point
  • Think about the opening statement for the letter
  • Select the perfect writing style and the language that you will use (both grammar and vocabulary) - according to the type of letter
  • Think about the signing off
  • Make a proper plan to design the content for each paragraph
  • Start writing

10. IELTS Letter Writing Strategies:

  1. Divide your 20 minutes into planning, writing and evaluating. Spend first 3-5 minutes into planning, 12-15 minutes into writing and last 2-3 minutes for assessing your writing to find an error.
  2. Also, do not cross the time limit above 20 minutes because the last 40 minutes will be needed in the IELTS Writing Task 2, which is your essay writing task.
  3. You need to take care of the word limit, which is between 150-180 words. Do not cross the word limit; otherwise, you will also lose score for doing this.
  4. Use a variety of sentence structure because the examiner will score you based on grammatical range and accuracy.
  5. Avoid repetitive words in your essay; it is not a good sign.
  6. Include all the instructions in the letter; otherwise, your band score will be lower.

Now you know all the essential tips for the IELTS Letter Writing from the General Training; you must practice a lot to get a good grip over your writing skills.

To make it more efficient, download the IELTS Writing App for the best IELTS writing preparation of IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

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