How To Do IELTS General Training Task 1 Writing

IELTS coach

Hello everyone! Former IELTS examiner Tim James here (pictured), and on this page I am going to show you exactly how to do IELTS General Writing Task 1. Here is what to do:

First, analyse the question and plan your answer. Secondly, Write the salutation and the purpose of the letter. Thirdly, respond to the question bullet points in separate fully developed paragraphs. Finally, add a closing remark and check your letter.

This is the exact same method I have personally taught time and again to international students around the world and so I know it works! Let's get started right now...

IELTS Task 1 General Training Writing Task 1 is very different to the Academic Writing Task 1. Some people think it is much easier. You have to write a letter which is either formal or informal in style and it has to be of at least 150 words in length.

You should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task as it is only worth a third of the overall marks in the writing test, which means you need to leave 40 minutes to properly answer Task 2.

This page will now cover:

  1. Sample questions and answers (pdf available)
  2. The step-by-step writing process
  3. How to get a band 7, 8, or 9
  4. Useful vocabulary and language (pdf available)
  5. Letter writing tips

IELTS General Sample Questions And Answers

There are 6 main types of letters that you might be asked to write on test day. I have included an example questions and model answer below to show you what an IELTS letter should look like.

Explaining wants and needs

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

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.

Model Answer +


Dear Carolyn,

Thank you for agreeing to house-sit for me. If you need to contact me during my holiday,
I’ll be staying at the Imperial Hotel in Bundaberg. If it’s urgent, however, please ring my
mobile phone, which I’ll keep with me at all times. I’ve written the numbers on a sticky
note which I’ve left on the fridge.

My cat needs to be fed twice daily so each morning and evening put a handful of cat
biscuits in his dish. You will find these in the kitchen pantry. Also, please check
throughout the day to make sure he has fresh water. You can give him a small bowl of
milk in the evening.

I would like you to water my plants, too. The indoor ones in the lounge only need water
once every few days but the plants on the balcony need to be watered daily unless there
has been heavy rain. Finally, for security, please clear my mail box every day and keep
the outside lights on at night.

I look forward to seeing you on my return.


Examiner comments +

Notice how each paragraph of the model answer perfectly answers one of the bullet points in the question. Structuring your answer like this means that you never accidentally miss out a bullet point and it makes you write in clear focused paragraphs. The answer also uses a variety of linking words, such as: however, also, and finally to make the text flow.

The above points all help the score for 'coherence and cohesion' as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9


You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You live in a room in college which you share with another student. However, there are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work.

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter:

•  Describe the situation
•  Explain your problems and why it is difficult to work
•  Say what kind of accommodation you would prefer

Write at least 150 words.

Model Answer +


Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to ask if I could please be given another room in college.

At present I share a room with another student who, unfortunately, is very noisy. This makes it very difficult for me to study. I have asked this student on many occasions to let me work quietly but there has been no change. He plays his radio or watches TV constantly and often invites friends round for parties which last till late in the night.

I have tried working in the library but it is not open at all the times I need. I am very worried about this situation, as I have to finish my final year project this term and have my final exams coming up at the end of the year.

I would be most grateful if you could please give me a room by myself or a room sharing with a student who is quiet.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your help.

Yours faithfully
Jan Hutt

Examiner comments +

In this answer the writer has used a variety of sentence types. They have used some short simple sentences but also longer more complex sentences when required, such as:

I am very worried about this situation, as I have to finish my final year project this term and have my final exams coming up at the end of the year.

The above sentence is a complex sentence as it contains three different pieces of information all linked together in one sentence. Often, complex sentences have words like: however, even though, although, because, and as in them. You probably write sentences using these words naturally anyway so there is no need to try and deliberately use them, you will anyway.

Demonstrating effective use of different sentence types like this help increase the grammar band score as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9

Making Suggestions

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

An English speaking friend wants to spend a two week holiday in your region and has written asking for information and advice. Write a letter to your friend, in your letter:

• Offer advice about where to stay

• Give her advice about what to do

• Give information about what clothes to bring

Write at least 150 words.

Model Answer +


Dear John,

I am so glad you are coming to my part of the world. I have given your questions some thought and come up with some suggestions for you.

Firstly, I highly recommend that you stay at the Grande Sheraton on the riverside. Not only are the views incredible from all of the rooms but if you book right now they are offering a 30% discount as it is still low season.

Whilst you are here, you definitely need to check out the royal boat museum and the Grand Palace, both are well worth the entry fee. If you hav time, you should also go to Khao Sahn road and visit the travelers markets they, there are lots of bargains to be had there and also some great street food.

Right now, it is rainy season so you might want to bring a jacket, but, to be honest when it rains here it is so heavy that we normally just stay in doors and wait for it to pass.

I hope that’s the information you were looking for. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

All the best,


Examiner comments +

Part of getting a good score in IELTS General is getting the tone of the letter right. It is crucial that you use the correct type of language that matches the formality of the letter.

This letter is to a friend and so should use informal language. Some of the language that makes it sound informal are:

'I'm so glad', 'come up with', and 'check out'.

These show the examiner that the writer knows how to write informally.

Demonstrating effective use of tone like this help increase the task achievement band score as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9

Providing Information

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You have recently started work in a new company. Write a letter to an English speaking friend. In your letter:

• Explain why you changed jobs

• Describe your new job

• Tell him/her your other news

Write at least 150 words


Model Answer +


Dear Emma,

I just wanted to let you know about my new job, it has been a really exciting few weeks.

First of all, you should probably know that I had to change job because my colleagues were always gossiping about each other. It made me feel really uncomfortable to work there and I just couldn’t stand it any longer, so I quit!

My new job is much more varied and interesting. For example, most days I have to travel to one of our stores around the city and meet with the branch manager. I have to check they are hitting their key performance indicators and give them advice if they are failing. 

However, my new job is not my only piece of good news. I am also getting married next spring! Can you believe it, Phillip proposed last month on holiday, it was so romantic and I said, ‘yes’!

Anyway, I hope you are doing just as well and of course I’ll be sending you a wedding invite soon.

Take care,


Examiner comments +

This letter demonstrates 'referencing' very well. Referencing is when you talk about something you mentioned earlier without repeating its name, instead you use pronouns such as: this, they, them, this, it. This can be a difficult skill to master but the writer does it well, e.g.

I am also getting married next spring! Can you believe it

In this sentence 'it' is referring back to the fact that she is getting married. How many ore examples of referencing can you spot in the letter?

Demonstrating effective use of referencing like this helps increase the coherence and cohesion band score as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9

Explaining a situation

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You are working for a company. You need to take some time off work and want to ask your manager about this. Write a letter to your manager. In your letter:

• Explain why you want to take time off

• Give details of the amount of time you need

• Suggest how your work could be covered while you are away.

Write at least 150 words

Model Answer +


Dear Mr Kent,

I am writing to request that I may take leave without pay starting as soon as possible and until further notice.

Firstly, as you may be aware my father has been very ill recently and it seems his condition is now rather critical. Indeed I do not expect he shall last much longer.

As stated, I feel as though it would be better for me and the company if I spent as much time with him as possible. At this moment in time it is difficult for me to concentrate on anything else let alone office work. It is for these reasons that I would like to take leave with immediate effect. I do hope you understand and keep my position open for me.

In my absence I suggest that my assistant take on much of the workload but my you will need to keep a close eye on him as he is prone to errors when working under time pressure.

Yours sincerely,


Examiner comments +

In this answer, the writer uses very natural sounding combinations of words known as collocations. Some examples they use are:

'under time pressure', 'leave without pay', 'immediate effect' 

These are phrases that native speakers use and you should remember that when you learn new words that you also need to learn the words that they are normally used with too. This will make you use the words more naturally.

Demonstrating effective use of collocations like this helps increase the lexical resource band score as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9

Requesting information

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You are planning a trip for you and a group of friends to a resort in a foreign country. Write a letter to the manager of the resort requesting more information. Your letter should include

• When you hope to be staying at the resort

• Ask for suggestions on activities to do

• Ask for advice on places to eat for both vegetarian and family friendly places

Write at least 150 words

Model Answer +


Dear Sirs,

I am hoping to bring a group to stay at your hotel in the near future and I am writing to request further information.

Firstly, we are planning to visit your resort from June the 15th until June the 20th. I do hope there are still vacancies at that time for a group of five. We would require a room with a balcony and access to a pool nearby.

The members of our group are all young adults, fit and healthy and love to explore the outdoors. Could you please recommend a few places that might be of interest to us? We would really appreciate it.

Finally, we are all vegetarians so could you also recommend any places we can get a quilt vegetarian menu. Preferably, family friendly places as well, as we will also be bringing two toddlers with us. They are not vegetarian and we will be feeding them with food that we bring with us.

Thank you for your time with this.

Yours sincerely,

Examiner comments +

In this answer, the writer starts the letter with 'Dear sirs' and ends it with 'your sincerely'. This is the correct way to start and finish a letter to someone you do not know the name of in a formal style. If you know their name then you end the letter with 'Yours faithfully'.

On the other hand if it is an informal letter then you can just write 'Hi/Hello/Hiya' and end with 'see you later'.

Demonstrating that you can start and finish your letter correctly helps increase the task achievement band score as detailed in the IELTS band descriptors here.

Estimated band score: 9

If you prefer you can also download the above sample questions and answers here in pdf format if this is preferable for you:

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Sample Answer pdf


 The IELTS General Writing Process

Follow this step-by-step process to produce well structured letters that please the examiners. Either watch the video or read the notes underneath the video.


IELTS General Letter Writing Step By Step

Here is the writing process I recommend you use outlined below, but you might also want to get feedback on your writing and do a mock IELTS test online with IELTS examiner feedback too for best results.

  1. Analyze the question. You will see a background sentence saying who you need to write to and then you’ll see three bullet points that help you write the letter. You should underline keywords and phrases to help focus on what you need to write about.  Read a full explanation of how to analyse a question here. You also need to consider the tone of the language you use.

2. Write your opening paragraph including your salutation. This will always be explaining the purpose of why you are writing. Take a look here for what should be included in each paragraph.


3. Write paragraph 2. Make sure that you cover just one of the required bullet points and do not go off topic. You can use your own ideas and imagination though to develop the point. Minute 23.30s summarises in the video explains how to develop your body paragraphs. Also, read our short guide here for writing letter body paragraphs.


4. Write paragraph 3. Do this in the same way as for the other bullet points and read our short guide here: writing letter body paragraphs.


5. Write paragraph 4. Finally, cover the third bullet point and sign off from your letter: writing letter body paragraphs.


6. Check your work. Finally, you must take some time to check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. This can significantly boost your band score when done properly. Read exactly how to check your letter here.

How To Get An IELTS Band 7 In General Writing

Discover how to give the examiners exactly what they want by understanding the band descriptors. All explained in the video below:

The more you practice this process the more confident you will become. Following the same process each time helps to eliminate nerves on exam day, it prevents you from making silly mistakes and means you will produce a well structured letter every time.

Once you have mastered this process you may want to take a look at how to do IELTS Writing Task 2 here.

IELTS General Useful Vocabulary and Language

Whilst you will never know what exact question you are going to get on test day, we do know that it will be one of the six different letter types discussed above. This is a big advantage to use as we can be prepared with the language needed to answer those types of question types.

Next, I am going to give you the vocabulary and language you need to learn in both its formal and informal format so that you will have all of the vocabulary you need to get the score you need. If that sounds good to you, then keep on reading.

Making Requests


Could you please let me know what time we can check in? 

Would you mind telling me where the meeting shall be held?

Could you please inform me of your arrival and departure dates? Emsa

Would you mind letting me know how many people will be in your group?

I would like to find out the price for a family ticket, could you please let me know?


Can you tell me/give me...

Providing Information


I resigned from my previous position due to the fact that it was a highly pressurized environment.

I believe I would make a highly efficient employee in your company do to my many years of experience in similar roles.

I attended St. Mary's High School before and rolling at Oxford University from which I graduated from with a first class honours degree.


I quit my job because it was too difficult.

I think I'd be awesome at this job as I've done it before loads of times.

I went to Saint Mary's High School before starting at Oxford uni. I finished from that with a top degree.



I am writing to complain about...

I am writing to you regarding the ...

As you can appreciate it is difficult to...

Consequently, it is difficult to...

Therefore, I would appreciate it if you could...

Therefore, I would be grateful if you could...


I am really not happy with...

I am furious about...

It has mean I can't...

It has caused me...

That is why I want you to...

So, I want you to...



We really need you to process the application urgently due to the fact that we have important clients waiting for the results of this.

Please accept my formal letter of resignation as after due consideration I feel it is time for me to move on to a new challenge.

My son, William, is now receiving medical treatment owing to the fact that a driver from your company did not show you care and attention to other road users. 

Personally, I think you should refund our rent in view of the fact that I am unable to sleep.


We need you to hurry up with the application because we have customers waiting on this.

It is a letter telling you that I am leaving as after thinking about it I want to try something different.

My Boy, William, is in hospital thanks to a careless driver from your company not looking where they were going. 

I demand my money back as I haven't slept in days.

Suggesting And Recommending


I highly recommend...

One approach to this would be to...

One way to deal with this would be to...

Perhaps you could...


 I think you should…

 You really ought to…

 It would be a great idea to…

 Don't you think we should...

If you prefer you can also download the above useful vocabulary here in pdf format:

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Vocabulary pdf

IELTS General Letter Writing Tips

Let's look at a few tips that will help you get the highest Band score possible for your letter.

Tip 1: Answer all of the bullet points fully

To do this, you need to make sure that you write down ideas for each bullet point during the planning stage. Remember, you can use real life situations that you have experienced, that a friend has experienced, or you can simply be creative in order to fully cover the points. 

Tip 2: Always write a 'purpose' paragraph

This makes it clear to the examiner exactly what you're writing about. Make sure you use words from the background statement, and use synonyms where possible. This will show the examiner that you are writing on topic and answering the question exactly as you should be.

Tip 3: Make sure that you develop your main points sufficiently

To do this, make sure you count your words for each paragraph to esure that you have around 50 words for each paragraph. If you're short of words, remember that you can add as much detail as you can think of. Being specific often helps you to use higher level vocabulary so everyone is a winner.

Tip 4: Write in clear paragraphs

To do this, leave a line between each paragraph and don't mix different bullet points from the question into one paragraph. Just make sure there is one clear reason in each paragraph. This will mean that the examiner knows that you have covered each point sufficiently.

Tip 5: Get your tenses right

Make sure you use the correct tenses in your letter. To do this, you should identify the tense required to write in during the planning stage. Write down the tense that you are going to use in your notes and make a point of checking your tenses at the end of you're writing.

Tip 6: Don't be tempted to show off.

Only use vocabulary and grammar that you are confident with and use regularly. This means that you are focusing on the accuracy of your vocabulary and grammar, and not on the range of your vocabulary and grammar. Remember, for higher scores your sentences need to contain very few errors, so if you're using grammar and vocabulary you're not familiar with you are more likely to make mistakes and damage your band score.

Tip 7: Avoid 'silly' spelling punctuation and grammar mistakes

You can do this by checking each sentence as you write it and then once again when you have finished your letter. You should always allow a few minutes to check your letter at the end. This will hopefully eliminate any silly errors you might have made under the pressure of the exam.

Tip 8: Be careful not to mix the tone of your letter.

Make sure that you identify the tone you should be writing in, is it formal, semi formal or informal, during the planning stage. As you are writing, select appropriate words and phrases that reflect this tone. During the checking stage at the end, you should also replace any words or phrases that do not fit in with the overall tone that you selected in the planning stage.

Finally a few closing thoughts, it's always a good idea to try to identify what errors you commonly make. You can do this by asking a teacher, getting a native speaker to look at it, or by using an online service.

Once you know the errors that you commonly make you need to find out how to correct your errors and you can do this by getting feedback on your writing.

Once you are aware of your errors and how to fix them, you make doubly sure that you check your writing for these specific mistakes on test day. In this way, you should be reducing the number of errors and increasing your accuracy.

I hope that helps people!