IELTS General Training Writing – Informal Letters

If you are planning to take the IELTS General Training, part 1 of the Writing section will require you to write a letter.  When writing letters, it is important to identify the formality of the letter. There are generally three levels of formality in letter types:

Formal – this type of letter requires you to communicate with someone you do not know.  Some examples are:

  • Applying to an employment agency to look for a job
  • Writing to a tour company to inquire about their services

Semi Formal – in the type of letter, you contact someone you know but in a formal situation or reason.  Some examples are:

  • Writing to your work manager to ask for a reference
  • Writing to a colleague to ask for help on a work task

Informal – in these types of letters, you contact someone you know well. Some examples are:

  • Writing to a friend to thank them for letting you stay at their place
  • Writing to a friend to ask for some advice

In this blog, we will explore the informal letter type and look at an example question and answer as well as some tips for success in this section!

How is the IELTS letter writing marked?

As with all parts of the IELTS writing, your submission is marked by a trained IELTS examiner. The examiner will assess you on four key areas:

  • Task achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Some questions to consider for each marking criteria are:

  • Task achievement: Have you covered the three bullet points in the task requirement of the letter? Have you written the required number of words (150)?
  • Coherence and cohesion: Are your ideas clear and simple to understand? Do you use linking words so that your writing flows in an easy manner?
  • Lexical resource: Are you using a variety of vocabulary and are you using words appropriately?
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: Are you using the correct verb tenses? Do you show a variety in your sentences? Are you using complex sentence structures?

IELTS Writing Informal Letter Example:

Let’s have a look at a sample letter task and response:

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You are going to another country to study. You would like to do a part-time job while you are studying, so you want to ask a friend who lives there for some help. Write a letter to this friend. In your letter:

  • give details of your study plans
  • explain why you want to get a part-time job
  • suggest how your friend could help you find a job

 Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Suggested response:

Hi John,

I hope you are well. I’m writing to say that I’m really excited to be moving to Canada next year! I can’t wait to see you and catch up on old times.  I was wondering if you could help me as I’m planning to do some part time work during my time there.

I’ll be studying at the University of Montreal in their main campus. The term time starts in September and runs through until the end of May.  As the cost of living is quite high in Canada, I need some part-time work to supplement my student loan.  I would be free to work in the evenings from 5pm and weekends.

I recall you once saying that you had an uncle who owns a bakery in the city.  Would you happen to be able to put in a good word on my behalf and see if there are any vacancies there?

I’d be most grateful for your help.  I’m really looking forward to seeing you!

Thanks in advance,


Comments on the above response:

This response would score highly for a variety of reasons:

  • It exceeds the minimum word count
  • It covers the three main bullet points of the task
  • It is clear and easy to understand
  • There are no spelling or grammatical errors
  • There is a wide range of vocabulary and even some less common idiomatic language (i.e., expressions)

 Some Tips for Informal Letters

  • When writing an informal letter, you can use the person’s first name when addressing them (i.e., Hi John)
  • It is acceptable in informal letter to use subject and verb contractions (i.e., I’m)
  • You can use informal idiomatic language (i.e., “catch up on old times”)
  • You can use informal punctuation, such as exclamation marks (!), but don’t overuse these!
  • It is important to note that the above tips are only suitable for informal letters and would not be suitable for semi-formal of formal letters.

Visit our IELTS Prepare Page to find more practice material so that you are perfect your skills.  Also, visit our IELTS blog page to get more hints and tips so that you are ready for test day.  Best of luck with your IELTS preparation!

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