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Writing Task 1: General Path: Write a Letter

In the IELTS Writing Task 1 for General Path, you will always be asked to write a letter. You will have approximately 20 minutes to complete this task and it is recommended that you spend no longer than that on this section, otherwise you are compromising valuable marks in Task 2.

You must write a letter of over 150 words for this task. Examiners will be looking for task achievement, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary and grammar when marking the test. Each of these areas contain an equal weighting of 25% of the overall score.

The letter will generally be specified as formal or informal. Therefore, you must carefully consider the style of writing and the type of language required before you start writing.

In the test, you will be given the task and three bullet points that will specify content that must be included in the letter. This will help you to plan and structure the letter. You must ensure you cover these points, otherwise you will lose marks.

It is advised that you take time to both plan and edit you work. Practise structuring your time on this task in the following way:

3 minutes: Planning

14 minutes: Writing

3 minutes: Editing

Planning for Task 1

As mentioned above, there are three main points you will need to cover in this letter. Therefore, I recommend that you plan for a 3 paragraph letter, with each paragraph covering on of these points. When writing the plan, also consider and note down clearly whether it is a formal or informal letter so that you have this in mind from the start.

For example:


You recently visited your friend’s house for dinner one evening. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter you should:

  • Thank your friend for the dinner
  • Tell them what you enjoyed most about the evening
  • Explain that you are sending photos of the evening with the letter


Style: Informal

Hi Ian,

Paragraph 1: Express thanks

Paragraph 2: Tell Ian I most enjoyed the prawn cocktail starter and the chocolate cheesecake dessert. Also: catching up.

Paragraph 3: Photos are enclosed.

Speak soon.


Editing in Task 1

Checking through your work after writing is hugely important in any writing tasks. Points will be deducted for mistakes in grammar and vocabulary, including spelling and punctuation mistakes. Once you have finished your letter, take the time to read it though slowly, carefully check for capital letters, correct punctuation and correct spelling. As you read, you also want to ensure that the letter makes sense and that you have included a good range of vocabulary.

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