IELTS Writing Task 1 is fairly fundamental. If you are wondering what it looks like or how you should get going about it, then you are at the right place. 

This article will tell you all about what your IELTS Writing task 1 is about. Let’s start with the format information.

Format of IELTS Writing Task 1:

You will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. Following are some points you must remember before you start preparing for the task.

  • You will be presented with a situation and required to write a personal response in the form of an informal, semi-formal or formal letter of at least 150 words in the answer booklet provided. 
  • The situations they are asked to write about are common, everyday ones such as: writing to a college accommodation officer about problems with accommodation, writing to a new employer about time management problems they are having, writing to a local newspaper about a plan to develop a local airport, writing to a renting agency to sort out problems with the heating system in their house.
  • You will be told what kind of information (in the form of three bullet points) you must include in your response. You may be required to request or give information and/or explain a situation. To do this, you may need to do some of the following: ask for and/or provide general factual information, express needs, wants, likes or dislikes, express opinions or complaints, make requests or make suggestions/recommendations.
  • The style of writing you use depends who you are asked to write to (i.e. the audience) and how well you are supposed to know them. You need to write in a style that is appropriate for your audience and that will help you to achieve your purpose for writing, e.g. writing to a friend (informal) or writing to a manager (semi-formal or formal). You do not need to include any addresses at the head of the letters.
  • You should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task. You will be asked to write at least 150 words and will be penalised if your answer is too short. While you will not be penalised for writing more than 150 words, you should remember that a longer Task 1 answer may mean that you have less time to spend on Task 2, which contributes twice as much to the Writing band score.

What skills are tested:  

This task assesses your ability to follow English letter-writing conventions (i.e. what order to put information in, what style to use, how to start and finish a letter), to use language accurately and appropriately and to organise and link information coherently and cohesively.

The marking criteria of Task 1 are as follows:

Task achievement 

  • This assesses how appropriately, accurately and relevantly your response fulfils the requirements set out in the task, using the minimum of 150 words. General Training Writing Task 1 is a writing task with a largely predictable output in that each task sets out the context and purpose of the letter and the functions you should cover in order to achieve this purpose.

Coherence and cohesion 

This assesses the overall clarity and fluency of the message: how your response organises and links information, ideas and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing. Cohesion refers to the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) to assist in making the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Lexical resource 

This refers to the range of vocabulary you have used and the accuracy and how appropriate they are in terms of the specific task.

Grammatical range and accuracy 

This refers to the range and accurate use of grammar, as shown in your sentence writing.

Study Guide for IELTS Writing Task 1

Preparing for IELTS writing is quite simple: All you need is to write properly and work on the parts you are weak at. We have come up with a plan that will help you in the preparation:

  • Read profusely. You are probably wondering why you should be reading for a writing test. Here is why: Firstly, vocabulary plays an important role in the writing test. So the more you read, the richer your vocabulary gets.
  • Allot an hour every day for you to solve past papers. Remember when you are solving past papers, you are not just writing away. You are getting an idea of what to expect on the day of your test.
  • Always time yourself. No matter how hard you practice, if you are not timing yourself then it really doesn’t mean anything. IELTS Writing task one may look simple, but remember you have to produce a decent write up in no more than 20minutes. Therefore always practice with a clock.
  • Consider getting a personal trainer. The most important part of practice is to improve and it is a trainer’s job to give you regular feedbacks so that you can write better. 

Mistakes to Avoid

As you have understood by now that you will have to write a letter in your IELTS Writing task 1. Although it is not complicated as the second task, we do come across students who make obvious mistakes in constructing a letter. 

Following are some common mistakes you must avoid:

  • Get carried away with the flow and lose the aim and the purpose of the letter. We know that letter writing can be fun and once you are in the mood you want to write it all out. But let us deter you from that. Losing the focus while writing, especially at a task that you need to get done by 20minutes is not something you can afford. So stick to the instructions.
  • Forgetting to include the three points to structure your letter and pave the way for the information. Remember the prompts you are given and make sure you do not miss even one! All points must be clearly included in the letter. If you fail to do so, you will get lower marks.
  • Not beginning your letter by addressing the recipient followed by an opening line. The Opening of a letter is its main feature. If you do not begin with a proper address to the recipient, your letter will be inadequate.
  • Not signing off appropriately. The ending of a letter is as much important as the opening. Make sure you pick the right words to sign off correctly. If you do not do justice to it, the letter will not look complete.

Recommended Reading

9 Superb Ways to Improve Your IELTS Writing
IELTS Writing task 1- Letter Writing
6 Writing Tips That Will Boost Your IELTS Score Today!


IELTS Writing Task 1 is definitely not something you should be worrying about. It is fairly simple but you need to be well conversant with the etiquettes of letter writing. Appropriate vocabulary, correct syntax and a crisp format make a letter, a piece of art.

Content Protection by

About the Author

Indulekha Prabha

My name is Indulekha Prabha. I am an English teacher and a content writer by profession. When I'm not working you can find me writing fiction, reading poetry and painting.

View All Articles