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

If you will be taking the IELTS General Training Test, you probably know that there are four parts to your exam: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Some people might think that they don’t have enough skills to get a good score in the Writing section, especially in the IELTS General Writing Task 1.

However, the secret to pass this section is practice and preparation, and a few exercises and tips can be useful to improve your skills. To help you, we have put together some things you need to know about the IELTS General Writing Task 1.

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

Get to know the Writing section of the IELTS General Training Test

This part might look short. However, the score depends on avoiding some mistakes that could be perceived as small but can mess up the meaning or the grammar of your text. So, it is important to be focused and prepared.

There is a lot of material to prepare for the IELTS, and this can help a lot for the Writing section of the General Training Test. With those resources, you can improve your vocabulary and grammar, and that will show in your performance.

A man studying using the IELTS preparation materials

There are two parts in the IELTS General Training Test Writing section: Task 1 and 2. You have approximately 60 minutes to complete both. It is recommended that you spend around 20 minutes on the IELTS General Writing Task 1. The remaining 40 minutes can be spent on IELTS General Writing Task 2.

The IELTS General Writing Task 1

For the IELTS General Writing Task 1, you are presented with a situation around a general interest topic, and you are asked to write a letter in response to this situation.  It may be either formal, semi-formal, or informal.

You are given three points of interest that you must cover in the letter with as much detail as you can. The length of the letter must be around 150 words, so keep that in mind.

Remember the difference between a formal, semi-formal and informal letter. You must use the first two tones whenever the information or your relationship with the other person is of a professional nature. On the other hand, the informal one is used when you write to a friend or a family member.

Formal/Semi-formal example

Write about the following topic:

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

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

Informal example

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 him or her. In your letter:

  • Give contact details for when you are away.
  • Give instructions about how to care for your pet.
  • Describe other household duties.

How is your IELTS General Writing Task 1 reviewed?

When you finish your IELTS General Writing Task 1, you might have a good and interesting text. However, the trained examiner who will read your work will take into consideration four key areas that you must cover:

  • Task achievement: This is one of the easiest things to accomplish. If all the bullet points of the task were covered in the letter and you did write the required number of words, you will not have any problem with this.
  • Coherence and cohesion: This is where the task might get difficult because you can write a letter, but can it be easy to understand? It’s important to ensure that you make good use of linking words so your ideas and your writing flow just fine.
  • Grammatical accuracy: If you use the verb tenses and a variety of complex sentence structures correctly, you might get some points here.
  • Lexical resource: Vocabulary is vital in IELTS General Writing Task 1, and if you use different words and spell them correctly, it will help you in your final score.

A man studying with his computer for the IELTS General Writing Task 1

Tips to write your letter

Writing a letter can be easy, but there are a few things you need to have in mind while doing it. And here are some things you should have in mind during the IELTS General Writing Task 1.

Always start stating the purpose

Any type of communication needs some context to work, and letters are no exception, it is better to explain the reason you are writing from the beginning so your ideas can be articulated from there.

But remember that you must always start having in mind the tone you are required to use. For example:

Formal/Semi-formal Informal
Dear Sir/Madam,


I am writing this letter to let you know that I can no longer work with your organization…

Dear Sam,


As you know, I’ll be away for this holiday, and I just want to tell you everything you should have in mind while you are taking care of my pet and my house…

Use the correct vocabulary according to the tone

There is always a formal and an informal way to say something and having that in mind is great when you are doing the IELTS General Writing Task 1.

Some vocabulary is easy to learn, however, in the Road to IELTS Preparation Course you will get tips and advice that you can use to find the right words.

Here are some examples of vocabulary in both tones.

Formal / Semi-formal Informal
Could Can
Would Will
Request Ask
Respond Reply
Furthermore Also
Cannot Can’t
Purchase Buy

Do not use contractions in a formal tone

It sounds kind of strange, but contractions are inappropriate in a formal tone. It is better to use the complete form since it sounds more serious and professional. If you do not know how to replace a contraction, try to separate the subject from the verb that is contracted.

If the contraction is a negative form, you must separate the verb from the negative. There are a lot of contractions you might be using, but if you are writing a formal letter, remember to always choose the longer word.

Here are some examples of contractions:

Normal Contraction
You are You’re
I will I’ll
We have We’ve
Do not Don’t
Because cause

But in the end, practice and preparation are essential to have success in the IELTS General Writing Task 1. By practicing enough and having confidence, you can achieve a high score in this section of the IELTS General Training test.

Visit the IELTS Canada homepage to find out more

Related articles:

Learn all about the IELTS General Training Writing Test

IELTS Writing Task 2 Topics