If you are planning to apply for a work visa or permanent immigration to Canada, Australia or any other English speaking country, you must demonstrate a certain level of English language proficiency. To do that you are required to score a respectable band score in all four sections of the IELTS General Training test: writing (letter writing, essay writing and report writing), speaking, listening and reading. Candidates applying for college admissions take the IELTS Academic test. 

Now in the IELTS General Training writing section, there are two tasks: Task 1 is letter writing and Task 2 is essay writing. The majority of the candidates practice essay writing whereas letter writing fails to get noticed. We have discussed the task 2 essay before in a previous blog post. 

In this post, we will understand the letter-writing task at length.

Types of letter 

There are mainly three types of letters that appear in the IELTS exam:

  1.       Formal
  2.       Semi-formal
  3.       Informal

Now, you know there are three kinds of letters but how do you ascertain which type of letter it is just by reading the question. So your goal, when you read the question first is to determine the kind of letter you are required to write by understanding the statement question. 

It is a formal letter if the following conditions are stated in the question:

  •  make a complaint to somebody who is not known to you;
  •  request for some information;
  •  seeking a job or applying for a job;
  •  forward your suggestion or a recommendation to someone.

It is a semi-formal question if you are asked to write to an acquaintance or someone you are remotely familiar with and conditions like the following are stated:

  • you have to complain to someone known such as landlord/area president/neighbor or
  • you are seeking/asking for permission for something to someone known.

In the case of informal letters, you are related to the person closely or you know them well – a relative, family or friend. The subject of such kind of letters can be:

  • An apology
  • A piece of advice you need
  • Invitation letter

Writing a letter

Once you have determined what kind of letter it is, you can immediately start writing the letter without wasting any time. In all kinds of letters, there are a few things that are common, the beginning and the ending. The way you begin/open the letter and the way you end/close the letter MATTERS, which means that the opening and the closing salutation is of utmost importance. 

Salutation and ending 

Here is a list of salutations and endings for the different kinds of letters: 

When you begin a formal letter, you can start with:

  • Dear Sir/Madam    (as you are addressing an unknown person)

And end with:

  • Yours faithfully  (it is a formal tone)

In the case of a semi-formal letter, your opening salutation should be:

  • Dear Mr. Last Name or Dear Ms. Last Name   (as you are familiar with the person, you use the last name)

And end with:

  • Yours sincerely  (as you are known to the person/the person is  well-acquainted with you)

Coming on to the Informal letter, you can start with:

  • Dear First Name ( as you are known the person well/the person is related to you)

And end with:

  • Warm wishes Or Best Regards  (it gives more personalized touch)

Well, the above-stated salutations give you a fair idea about how to kickstart your letter well.

Beginning 

The next concern is the way you have to begin your letter. Each letter type has various ways to start the conversation. 

For the formal/semi-formal letters, you can start by saying:

  •  I am writing to inform you
  •  I am writing to inquire about
  • I am writing to complain about
  • I am writing to request you
  • I am writing in reference to/in connection with

On the contrary, for the informal letter, you can start by first establishing a relationship with the person you are writing to since you know them already. You can begin in a friendly tone by asking about his/her well being such as

  •  I hope you are doing well.
  •  I hope you and your family are doing well.
  • How’ve you been? It’s been a long time since we have been in touch.

Also, there are certain typical responses or expressions that add value to the letter-writing such as

  • My sincere apologies for …….(state the reason)
  • I am very sorry for …………..(state the reason)

If you want to use a formal tone in a personal letter then use expressions like:

  •  I’d be grateful if you could please procure/send me the information/report (state the reason, for whatever you are requesting).
  •  Could you please …….. (reason)              

These are those valuable little things which often get ignored but they are the real score pickers that can help you raise your bands.

Here are some common topics that have appeared in the IELTS General exam in the past:

  • Applying for a job that was advertised in a newspaper or a magazine.
  • Making a suggestion about the change of timing/amendments/improvements
  • Requesting/Asking for information
  • Complaining a bank about some services or missing card
  • Informing an airline about lost baggage
  • Inviting a friend for a holiday.
  • Requesting a friend/cousin to take care of your pet.
  • Apologizing a friend 

It can be a good practice to write letters on these topics. 

IELTS test is mostly about practicing by taking practice tests. The more time you spend practising, the better you will get at it. You can find practice tests. However, it’s important for you to get informed guidance from an expert. Yuno Learning is committed to your success. Enroll in one of our courses and see it for yourself.