IELTS Writing Task does have its own challenges. An hour-long test that has two tasks and a detailed rubric for marking, yes, it can be daunting. However, we are here to save you from getting all worked up. Let’s find out the best ways to conquer IELTS Writing Task 1!

Format of Writing Task

IELTS Writing Task 1 deals with topics that are of general interest. There are two tasks:

Task 1, where you will be presented with a situation and will be asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or a problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.

Guidelines for acing Writing Task 1

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.
  • You need to write in a style that is appropriate for your audience and that will help you to achieve the purpose for writing, e.g. writing to a friend (informal) or writing to a manager (semi-formal or formal). 
  • Do not 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 penalized if the answer is too short. 
  • 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.
  • You will be penalized for irrelevance, if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). You will be severely penalized for plagiarism (i.e. copying from another source). 
  • Pay attention to the aim and the purpose of the letter.
  • It is necessary to include the three points to structure your letter and pave the way for the information.
  • All points must be clearly included in the letter. If you fail to do so, you will get lower marks.
  • Begin your letter by addressing the recipient followed by an opening line. Then sign off appropriately.

Topics for Writing Task 1

Now let us explore some topics! Here is a range of personal, semi-formal and formal letters to help you get started:

  • Letter of Instruction

You have just spent a week with a friend on holiday. When you got home, you realized you had left your wallet there.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:

  • Thank your friend for the holiday.
  • Explain that you left your wallet in their house.
  • Give them instructions on how to send it back to you.
  • Asking for a Letter of Reference.

You are applying for a job and need a letter of reference.

Write a letter to a former teacher. In your letter:

  • Give details of the job.
  • Explain why it is important to you.
  • Information your teacher could put in the reference.
  • Letter of Advice

A friend has written to you asking for advice about a problem at work. You have had a similar problem in the past.

Write a reply to your friend. In your letter:

  • Tell your friend you understand the problem.
  • Explain what happened to you in the past.
  • Suggest possible solutions to the problem.
  • Letter of Complaint

Work is being done on the street where you live. The noise is disturbing you.

Write a letter of complaint to your local council. In your letter:

  • Introduce yourself.
  • Explain what the problem is.
  • Suggest solutions to the problem.
  • Letter of Arrangement

You have organized to go on holiday with your friend. However, you must change your plans.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:

  • Tell them how you are looking forward to the holiday.
  • Explain why you must change your plans.
  • Suggest alternative arrangements.

Recommended Reading:
9 Superb Ways to Improve Your IELTS Writing
How To Get A 7.5 Band in IELTS Writing Task 1 [From an IELTS Topper]
9 Common Grammar Mistakes to be Avoided in IELTS

Model Answers & discussion

Before looking at a model letter, let us first understand the structure of a letter. 

  • Opening- A letter usually begins with an opening line that states the purpose of the letter. You must remember that the opening sentence will be different informal, semi-formal or personal letters.
  • Main Body- The middle section of the letter usually contains an explanation or reasoning. Make sure you do not repeat your ideas here.
  • Signing off- Depending on the type of letter, your final sentence should have phrases like:
    • Yours truly- semi-formal
    • Yours sincerely- formal
    • Yours faithfully- formal
    • With love- personal
  • Remember the vocabulary you use in the letter should reflect the tone of the letter. Therefore, choose appropriately.

Let us take the first topic and see how we can turn it into a letter, worthy of Band9.

Recommended Reading:
Model Answer of Recent IELTS Writing Task 1 – Letter (Cafeteria Closure)
IELTS Writing Task 1 Analysis (Accident in Supermarket) – Band 5
IELTS Exam- Essay Writing Evaluation with model answer


You have just spent a week with a friend on holiday. When you got home, you realized you had left your wallet there.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:

  • Thank your friend for the holiday.
  • Explain that you left your wallet in their house.
  • Give them instructions on how to send it back to you.

Hi Emma,

How are you? I hope this letter finds you in good health. I can’t believe that only a day ago, we were camping out in the forest near the mountains!

Thank you so much not only for such a memorable Alpine holiday but also for the love and care your entire family showered on me. I still can’t get over the fact that you have such an amazing forest literally at your backyard! Every time I close my eyes I see your gorgeous patio, the pine trees, and your attic. Jung Frau is indeed a dream.

However, probably because I was so awestruck all these days, I left my wallet at the room where I was staying.  It is a Denim blue canvas wallet with a brown zip. If I remember correctly, I left it on the nightstand, while packing my suitcase, as it was supposed to get into my satchel. Then I totally forgot about it! Luckily I had my credit card in the passport holder, so reaching home wasn’t a problem.

I know sending the wallet by post would be an unnecessary hassle and it will cost a lot. So maybe you can get in touch with Alex. He said he will be going to Geneva next week and from there to Jung Frau. You can meet him at the station and hand him the wallet. I will drop him a word. I am so sorry for the trouble!

Thanks again for the wonderful holiday! Take care and write back soon.


IELTS Writing Task 1 is all about time management, coherent writing, and a clear thought process. You are only advised to use 20 minutes for it. If you do not think straight, you will end up losing time for the much bigger Task 2. Therefore, practice well, get feedback from your mentor, work on your drawbacks and you are good to go!

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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.

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