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IELTS General Training: Writing Task 1
Planning & Formal vs Informal

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IELTS General Training

Watch our video on how to format / organize your writing task 1 and choosing the correct style: Formal or informal


I cannot stress enough the importance of planning. Candidates often think that 20 minutes is not enough time to complete the task and rush straight into writing the answer. 

Planning your answer will keep you on topic and ensure that you have included everything that’s needed to score well, especially in Task achievement. Planning actually saves time because when it comes to writing the answer you already know the content. Take several minutes to read and fully understand the task because there is a lot of information in the situation for General Training task 1. 

Formal vs Informal

First of all, decide who you are writing to. This will be included in the situation. Who you are writing to will determine the style or tone of your letter whether it is formal or informal. 


Write a letter to the manager...

Write a letter to your friend...

Write a letter to the company...

Formal: You do not know the receiver. It can be someone in a position of authority (manager, supervisor) or could be a company or organization. I can also be someone you know but do not have a close personal relationship with.

Informal: A friend or family member. Someone you have a close personal relationship with.

Keep in simple. If the instructions say “write a letter to your friend”, it is informal. For all other people or organizations, you are writing to, it is formal.

Example: Informal

You will take a short holiday in London next month and you would like to spend some time with a friend who lives there.

Write a letter to your friend


Example: Formal

You bought a set of speakers from a store recently and discovered that they were not working properly.

Write a letter to the store manager

The type of language you use, depends on whether the letter is formal or informal. Some differences between formal and informal language....

IELTS Writing

Using the appropriate style/tone in all parts of the letter is graded in the Task achievement criterion.

Task Achievement

Band 7: ... with the tone consistent and appropriate for the task.


Task Achievement

Band 4: The tone may be inappropriate


Once you have decided on the appropriate style, according to who you are writing to, then continue to plan using the following steps. 

            1. WHO are you writing to?

             2. What’s the STYLE/TONE of the letter?

             3. What is the PURPOSE of the letter?


             5. CLOSING the letter.

             6. SIGN OFF


IELTS General Training

                                 Source: Cambridge English IELTS past papers

When writing, organize your answer into 6 paragraphs. Leave a blank line between each paragraph.

IELTS General Training Letter Structure
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