Everything you need to know about the IELTS General Writing Task 1

If you are going to be taking the IELTS General Training test, you probably know that there are four parts to your exam: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

To help you prepare, we have put together a guide on what you need to know about the Writing section ahead of your exam; more specifically Writing Task 1.

*If you have signed up to the IELTS Academic test, you will have different content in the Writing section than in the General Training test.

About the Writing section of the IELTS General Training test

There are two sections to the IELTS General Training Writing test: Task 1 and Task 2. You have approximately 60 minutes to complete this section in total, and it is recommended that you spend around 20 minutes on Writing Task 1. The remaining 40 minutes can be spent on Writing Task 2.


What’s included in IELTS General Writing Task 1?

For Task 1, you are presented with a situation around a topic of ‘general interest’ and asked to write a letter in response to this situation.  These situations may be either formal, semi-formal or informal.  For example:

  • Formal/Semi-Formal: this is usually when you write to someone about a topic that is of a professional nature(e.g. when you write to your manager at work or you write to a university or college to get more information about their program or courses).
  • Informal: this is usually when you write to a friend or family member.

In your task, you are given three points to cover and you must include details of all three points in your letter. You should aim to write around 150 words in the letter.

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 example scenario

Here are examples of two IELTS General Training Writing part 1 tasks.


Write about the following topic:

You have been volunteering at a local organisation but you can no longer do so. Write a letter to the head of the organisation to explain why you must leave. In your letter:

  • Describe the work you have been doing and what you have learnt.
  • Explain why you must leave.
  • Suggest someone to replace you.


Write at least 150 words, and begin your letter as follows:

Dear …………………,



Write about the following topic:

A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on 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, and begin your letter as follows:

Dear …………………,

How is your IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Marked?

Your writing 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? Have you written the required number of words?
  • Coherence and cohesion: Are your ideas easy to understand? Do your ideas progress in a clear way? Do you use linking words so that your writing flows well?
  • Lexical resource: Are you using the correct vocabulary? Are you using a range of different words? Are you spelling words correctly?
  • 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?

Some Tips for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

  1. Take a close look at the marking criteria. This will give you a good idea of what you need to do for each of the four marking criteria. It will also tell you what you need to do in each marking criteria to achieve a specific band score. Identify the areas that you may need to improve on and practice these specific areas!
  2. Manage your time. Keep an eye on the clock. Spend around 20 minutes on Task 1. It is ok if you go over this time by a few minutes but not much more. Remember, you still have to do Task 2.
  1. Make sure the tone of your letter is correct. The way we would write a letter to our manager at work and a friend is different. Make sure you have identified the formality of the letter (e.g. formal/semi-formal/informal) and respond appropriately. For example, when we end a formal letter, we can say “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely”, but when we end an informal letter to a friend, we would usually write “Best wishes” orsee you soon”.
  1. Keep things simple. The most important aspect of your letter is that it covers the main bullet points and that it is clear and easy to understand. Try not to spend too much time thinking of complicated ideas as this unlikely to increase your band score by very much. Keep your ideas simple as they will be easy to explain and easy for the reader to understand.
  1. Plan your ideas before you write. Take a few minutes to plan your work. What grammar tenses and vocabulary do you need to use? What examples or extra details will you include?
  1. Take some time to review your work. Make sure you save a few minutes to review your work. Have you covered all the bullet points? Have you made any spelling or grammatical mistakes? If you are doing IELTS on paper, is your handwriting easy to understand?
  1. Practice, practice then practice some more. The people who achieve the band score they need practice lots. When you practice, make sure you time yourself so you put yourself in a similar environment as the real test. This will give you confidence on test day!
  1. Access British Council preparation materials. If you need to prepare, we have you covered! Visit our preparation page to get access to a variety of preparation materials including a Prep App, practice question papers and lots of other practice activities and resources.

Discover more about Writing Task 2

Want to know more about IELTS Writing Task 2? Read our blog on Writing Task 2 for everything you need to know.

Want to know more about the individual IELTS test sections? Download our brochure.

Visit the IELTS Canada homepage to find out more.