General Training Writing Task 1 – Letter: Tips, Strategies & Sample Letters

LENGTH
You must write at least 150 words. You can write more.

TIPS
■ Make sure you understand all parts of the task before you start planning.
■ Use your imagination to add details, but make sure they are relevant to the task.

SCORE
To receive a good score.
■ Address all pans of the task
■ Make the purpose of the letter clear
■ Include relevant details
■ Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
■ Write in complete sentences
■ Use your own words; do not copy exact sentences from the task

STEP 1: PLAN
Take about 5 minutes to plan before you start writing. This will help you develop your ideas and ensure that you include all the necessary information.

Address the Task
In Task 1, you will see a brief description of a situation. You will be asked to write a letter to a certain person about the situation. You will be given several points to cover in your letter. You must address all the points.

PRACTICE 1
Read the following tasks and determine what each one asks you to do. Circle your choices on the list that follows each task. There may be more than one answer for each task.

ask for help

suggest a solution

make an invitation

describe a problem

describe a thing or place

ask for advice

1.You recently bought a jacket, but when you got home, you discovered it was damaged. When you took it back to the store, you were told that merchandise cannot be returned.
Write a letter to the store manager. In your letter,
– describe the problem with the Jacket,
– explain what happened when you tried to return it.
– say what you would like the manager to do.
Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam,

2. You are planning a business trip to another city. You will have some free time to do
some sightseeing while you are there. Write a letter to a friend who lives In the city you will visit. In your letter
– explain the purpose of the trip.
– ask about things to do and see in the city.
– invite your friend to do something with you during your visit.

Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear ______,

3. You live in a small apartment building with a parking lot in back, and you often cannot find an empty parking space when you get home from work. Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter
– describe the situation,
– explain why it bothers you.
– suggest something the landlord could do to solve the problem.

Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to wile any addresses.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear _______,

4. You have rented a house by a lake for the summer. Write a letter to a friend. In your letter
– describe the house
– describe how you are spending your time there,
– invite your friend to come and visit.
Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear_____,

5. You rode in a taxi yesterday. When you got home, you realized you had left your bag in the taxi. Write a letter to the manager of the taxi company,  in your letter
■ explain how you lost your bag.
■ describe your bag.
■ ask the manager to help you find it
Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam,

Determine the topic:

Task 1 begins with a brief description of a situation. This tells you the topic of the letter you will write.

PRACTICE 2
Choose the correct topic for each of the tasks in Practice 1 (see above). Write the letter of the topic next to the number of the corresponding task. You will not use all the topics.

Topics

 
1_____

2_____

3._____

4._____

5._____

 

A Looking for a lost bag
B Advice about buying a house
A problem finding a parking space
D A vacation at a rental house
E A bad purchase
A complaint about a driver
G Making plans for a trip
H Looking for a new job

Make notes about main ideas
Task 1 mentions three points that you must cover in your letter. Look at this example.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
– explain why you are no longer using your bicycle,
– describe your bicycle.
– explain why you think your friend would like to have it.
Read the three points and take a minute to brainstorm some ideas for addressing each one. Then, choose one idea for each point to include in your letter. It doesn’t matter which ideas you choose; just choose something you can write about.

PRACTICE 3
Read the following tasks. Brainstorm a short list of ideas for addressing each point. The lists have been started for you.

Task
You have a bicycle that you are no longer using. You would like to sell it to a friend.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
– explain why you are no longer using your bicycle.
– describe your bicycle.
– explain why you think your friend would like to have It.

  1. Explain why you are no longer using your bicycle:
    no time, want a different bicycle, ….
  2. Describe your bicycle
    racing bike, mountain bike,…
  3. Explain why you think your friend would like to have it
    friend likes racing bikes, friend needs a good way to get to work, etc

PRACTICE 4
Look at the tasks in Practice. Brainstorm a short list of ideas for addressing each
point in each of the tasks. Then, choose one idea for each point. Later, you will use these as mainideas when you write your letter.
Task 1
1 Describe the problem with the jacket.
…………………………………………………………………………………………… .
2 Explain what happened when you tried to return it.
…………………………………………………………………………………………… .
3 Say what you would like the manager to do.
…………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Task 2

  1. Explain the purpose of the trip
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  2. Ask about things to do and see in the city
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  3. Invite your friend to do something with you during your visit
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Task 3

  1. Describe the situation
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  2. Explain why it bothers you
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  3. Suggest something the landlord could do to solve the problem
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Task 4

  1. Describe the house
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  2. Describe how you are spending your time there.
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  3. Invite your friend to come and visit
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Task 5

  1. Explain how you lost your bag
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  2. Describe your bag
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .
  3. Ask the manager to help you find it
    …………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Make notes about details

After you have come up with a main idea to address each point in the task, think of two or three details to support each main idea. Look at this example.

Task
You have a bicycle that you are no longer using. You would like to sell it to a friend.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
■ explain why you are no longer using your bicycle.
■ describe your bicycle.
■ explain why you think your friend would like to have it

Main idea (point 1): no time for bicycle
Details: demanding job, exercise at gym, etc

Main Idea (point 2): racing bike
Details: lightweight and fast; silver; carrying rack

Main Idea (point3): you like racing bikes
Details: your favorite color; special price for you

PRACTICE 5
Read the following tasks: then complete the notes with your own ideas. Include two or three details for each main idea.
Task
You live in a small apartment building. You are frequently bothered by noise from your
upstairs neighbor’s apartment.
Write a letter to your neighbor. In your letter
– describe the situation,
– explain why it is a problem for you.
– suggest a solution.

Main Idea (point 1): loud parties
Details:…………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Main idea (point 2): can’t sleep
Details:…………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Main idea (point 3) solution: notify me about party plans…………………………………………………………………………………………… .

Practice 6
Complete the notes for each of the tasks in Practice 1. Start with the main ideas you identified in Practice 4; then brainstorm 2 or 3 details for each main idea.

 

STEP 2: WRITE

After you plan, you are ready to write. You will use your notes about the topic, main ideas, and details as your guide. You should take about 12 minutes to write your letter.

Write the Greeting
You will begin your letter with a greeting. The instructions might provide the entire greeting:

Begin your letter as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a greeting for a formal business letter when you don’t know the name of the person you are addressing, for example, the manager of a store or restaurant.

TIP:  Traditionally, Dear Sir or Madam has been considered the correct greeting for a formal business letter, although nowadays the custom is changing. If the IELTS task provides you with this or any other specific greeting, you must use it. Outside of the testing situation, however, you could use another type of greeting such as:
Dear Recruiter | Dear Editor | Dear Manager

The instructions might provide just part of the greeting;
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear_____________,
In this case, you will have to provide a name. If the letter is for a person with whom you would have a business relationship, for example, a landlord, use a title such as Mr. Mrs.. or Ms. and a last name. Some examples are Mr.Lee, Mrs. Kim, or Ms. Wilson. It doesn’t matter what last name you use, just choose any last name that comes to mind. If you can’t think of a last name, use your own or a friend’s last name.
If the letter is for a friend, use a first name. Again, it doesn’t matter what name you use: any name will do.

PRACTICE 7
Choose the best greeting for a letter to each of the following people.
1 Your best friend from school
A Dear Tom,                   B Dear Tom Wilson,
2 Your lawyer
A Dear Sir or Madam,   B Dear Ms. Lopez,
3 Your next-door neighbor whom you know well
A Dear Mr. Lu                 B Dear George.
4 Your neighbor whom you have met only once
A Dear Mrs. Hill             B Dear Sir or Madam.
5 The manager of a bookstore whose name you don’t know
A Dear Sir or Madam,    B Dear Mr. or Mrs.,
6 Your cousin
A Dear Mr. Broussard,   B Dear Billy,

Write the Introduction
After you write the greeting, you will write the introduction. This paragraph introduces the ideas that you will develop in your letter.

Write the Topic Sentence
The first sentence of your introduction is the topic sentence. When you planned your letter, you determined the topic. Now you will turn the topic into a topic sentence
Begin the sentence with a phrase such as the following:
I want to let you know
I want to inform you
I thought you should know
I thought you’d be interested
I am writing about
I am writing to request
I would like to ask
Then briefly explain the topic of the letter. Look at these examples.

Task

You have a bicycle that you are no longer using. You would like to sell It to a friend.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
■ explain why you are no longer using your bicycle,
■ describe your bicycle.
■ explain why you think your friend would like to have It

Topic: selling a bicycle to a friend
Topic Sentence: I thought you’d be interested in the bike I am selling.

PRACTICE 8
Write a topic sentence for each of the following tasks.
Task 1

 
You live in a small apartment building. You are frequently bothered by noise from your upstairs neighbor’s apartment.
Write a letter to your neighbor. In your letter
– describe the situation,
– explain why It Is a problem for you.
– suggest a solution.

Topic: a noisy neighbor…………………………………………………………………………… .
Topic Sentence:…………………………………………………………………………………………….. .

Task 2
You let a friend stay at your apartment while you were away on a trip. When you returned home, you discovered that a valuable possession was broken.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
m describe the broken possession,
m explain why it is important to you.
a explain what you would like your friend to do.

Topic: friend broke valuable possession…………………………………………………………… .
Topic Sentence: …………………………………………………………………………………………….. .

[To be continued…]

General Training Writing Task 1 – Letter: Tips, Strategies & Sample Letters
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