IELTS Letter Writing Tips: Essential Top 10 Tips

Essential IELTS Letter Writing Tips for General Training Writing Task 1. Learn the right approach and techniques to get a high score in your IELTS GT letter. This page was last updated in 2023.

On this page, you will find:

  1. Instructions about IELTS Letter Writing with Tips
  2. Types of IELTS Letters
  3. Letter Aims
  4. Opening your Letter
  5. Signing Off
  6. Grammar
  7. Vocabulary
  8. Spelling
  9. Structure & Paragraphs
  10. Planning your Letter
  11. Model Letters

1. Instructions for IELTS Letters

You will be given instructions and three points to include in your letter.Below is an example of the type of instructions you can get:

You recently had a holiday visiting your friends and you stayed in their house.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:

  • thank your friend for staying with them
  • tell them what you enjoyed most about the holiday
  • explain you are sending photos of the holiday with the letter

Tips for IELTS letter writing:

  1. Spend 20 mins on this letter. Spend 3 -5 mins planning and then the rest writing. Always leave 2 mins to check your letter for spelling or grammar mistakes. You will need a full 40 mins for task 2, so don’t go over 20 mins for task 1. It is your responsibility to control the time in your writing test. Keep your eye on the clock.
  2. You should write over 150 words (aim for between 160 and 180 to be safe). Writing a letter over 200 words is a waste of time. You don’t get a higher score for length.
  3. Your letter is worth 33% of your final writing score. See this page: How your final writing score is calculated
  4. You do NOT need to write an address on the letter. The first words will probably be “Dear” and then a name or title.
  5. Pay close attention to who you are writing to and the relationship you have with that person. This will decide your style of writing and your tone.
  6. Pay attention to the aim and purpose of the letter. You must fulfil the purpose of the letter.
  7. It is essential that you use the three bullet points to structure your letter and provide the foundation for the information. This doesn’t mean that you write in bullet points, it means that you use the bullet points to create the content for paragraphs, for example the information for the first bullet point will be one paragraph.
  8. All points must be included clearly in your letter. If you fail to include all the points in your letter, your band score will be lower. This relates to Task Achievement which is 25% of your marks.
  9. You must use your imagination to fill in details and decide the names of the people in your letter.
  10. Begin your letter by addressing the person and then an opening line. Always sign off appropriately. The way you address the person and the opening line will change depending on the style of letter, the person you are writing to and the purpose of the letter.

2. Types of IELTS Letter

There are three different types of letters: personal (informal), semi-formal and formal. Each type of letter will use different language. It will have a different beginning and a different way of signing off.  Before you start writing, you should decide which type of letter you must write by identifying the task given. Below are examples of the three different types of letters.

Informal Letter (or Personal Letter)

You would like to invite a foreign friend to visit you for your birthday

Write a letter inviting your friend. In your letter:

  • tell your friend about your birthday
  • explain how much the visit would mean to you
  • suggest that your friend stays at your house for the visit

A personal letter is to someone you have a personal relationship, a friend who you meet or used to meet in your free time to socialise with inside your home. The content is about something social or personal, such as a holiday, party. Both the person and content are informal in nature.

Semi-formal Letter

You give advice to your friend who is seeking work.

Write a letter advising your friend about a job 

    • tell your friend which job it is
    • explain why you think it is a suitable job
    • advise your friend about the application process


You would like to ask your boss for time off work.

Write a letter requesting time off work. In your letter:

    • explain why you are requesting time off work
    • give details of dates
    • explain how you will ensure you will keep up with your work 

As you can see, I’ve provided two examples of a Semi-Formal letter. Both are semi-formal, but one is slightly more informal and the other is slightly more formal. 

  1. Semi-Formal / Informal: This means it is not 100% informal. Your relationship with the person is informal but the letter content is very serious, such as about work or education. Your letter might start with “Dear John” or “Hi John”, this means a more informal style of writing, but with much more serious content. 
  2. Semi-Formal / Formal: This means the letter is not 100% formal because you know the person. But you don’t know this person in your private life or home life so this relationship is not informal. This person is someone you know professionally, such as a colleague, boss, teacher, or a neighbour.  The style will be more formal, but your language will not be completely the same as a fully formal letter. The way you address the person might vary: your colleague “Dear Bob”, but your boss or neighbour “Dear Mr Brown”. 

Note: You might find teachers vary slightly in how they categorise letters. Some teachers only have two categories of letters (Formal and Informal) and some teachers have three categorise but they might vary from mine. Teachers do not do this to confuse you. Each teacher chooses their categories because they think it is the best way to help you understand the letter style and content. Therefore, choose the categorisation that works best for you to have a clear understanding.

Formal Letter

You are interested in applying for a scholarship program to study at a foreign University.

Write a letter to inquire about the course. In your letter:

  • explain which course you are interested in
  • tell what you know about the University
  • explain why you should receive the scholarship

A formal letter is to someone you have no relationship with about a very formal matter. The person is actually a position in a company, organisation or university. So, you are writing to the position, rather than a person. Examples of formal letters are to a magazine editor, hotel manager, local council, a college or university (not a teacher) or customer services department at a company.  You would address the letter as “Dear Sir/Madam” because you don’t even know the gender of the person you are writing to. To sum up, the person is unknown and content is formal.

3. Letter Aims

Letters can be based on different content which will affect the style of the letter. Below is a list of some of the common contents for letters. Although there are hints about whether the letters are usually formal or not, please note that you will know the style by reading the instructions given to you.

  • complaints (usually formal)
  • invitations (usually personal or semi-formal)
  • applications or resignations (usually formal)
  • request (any style common)
  • making arrangements (often formal)
  • explanation (sometimes semi-formal or personal)
  • informative / news letter (often personal/ semi-formal but formal can also appear)
  • apology (could be any style)

 4. Letter Openings

Letters usually start with an opening statement which explains the reason for writing the letter. This opening statement varies depending on whether you are writing a formal or informal letter. Below are two examples of an opening statement. Can you spot which one is formal, semi-formal and informal?

A)  I am writing this letter with regards to the scholarship program to study at London University which I read in Sunday Times on December 1st, 2014.

B)  It’s been so long since we last were in touch but I haven’t forgotten all the wonderful times we spent together last year. It’s my birthday coming up and I wanted to invite you over to stay at my place for the celebration.

C) I’m just writing to say thank you for the offer of joining your company.


A is formal to a college (not a colleague) and you don’t know the person’s name. B is personal (informal) letter to a friend. C is semi-formal / formal letter to someone you have met before and whose name you know, but they are not your friend or colleague.

5. Signing Off

Depending on the style and aim of the letter, you will need to adapt your sign off. Below you can see how the salutations (the way you address the person at the start) matches the sign off.

  • Dear Sir / Madam = Yours faithfully,  (formal letters – to a hotel manager, magazine editor, company complains department)
  • Dear Mr Robson = Yours sincerely, (semi-formal / formal letters – to a boss, teacher, neighbour)
  • Dear John = Best regards (semi-formal / formal – to a colleague at work)
  • Dear John = Best wishes (semi-formal / informal letters – to a friend about work or something serious)
  • Dear Dave = Best wishes (informal- to a friend about something social)


  1. As you can see, some sign offs use a Sir/Madam, sometimes we use the title with the surname (family name) and sometimes we use the first name (given name) without a title.
  2. You use Sir/Madam when you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to. But please note, not to use such a title in your speaking test.
  3. If you have a semi formal relationship with the person whose name you know, who you have met and who you know, you use “Mr Brown”. This is to a person who you don’t know social with in your private life and who is in a position of authority above you, such as a boss, teacher etc.
  4. You can use “Dear John” with a semi-formal / formal letter to a colleague. Certainly, you don’t socialise with this person outside of work, but they are on the same level as you at work and you have more relaxed working relationship with them.
  5. We use no title and no last name when we write to a friend. We only use their first name (given name).

Below are some examples of final comments before signing off, can you tell which ones are formal and which not?

It’ll be great to catch up again soon. Give my best to everyone in the family. (informal)

I look forward to hearing from you. (formal)

Note: there are other ways of giving a final comment but it depends on the content of the letter you are writing. See my model letters (links below) to see this.


You should write a name at the end of your letter. You can use your name or you can invest one. Likewise, to address the person you are writing to, you can invent a name.

6. Grammar: Formal and Informal

Formal and informal (friendly) letters contain different language and style of writing. While informal letters can contain contractions (I’m writing …), these contractions are unacceptable in formal writing so you need to write the words in full (I am writing …. …).

In a formal letter, you could write “I am writing with regards to ….”,  whereas for a semi-formal letter you can write “I’m writing about…” or “I’m writing to let you know that ..” or “I just want to tell you that..”. So, it is important to adapt your writing to suit the style of the letter. Also remember to use a range of different sentence structures in order to get a high score.

You’ll also get a score for a range of sentence structure and grammar features as well as tenses. Pay attention to articles(the / a / plural nouns), prepositions, word order etc.

7. Vocabulary: Formal and Informal

For vocabulary, be very careful using academic language in a personal letter. This would be inappropriate and will reduce your band score rather than increase it. Here are some examples of the difference between formal and informal language:

  • You will be collected at the airport = I’ll pick you up at the airport
  • The next available appointment is on Thursday = how about we meet up on Thursday?
  • I would like to invite you to visit my house on…. = Why don’t you pop round to my place on …..
  • I highly recommend that you come in August = it’d be great if you came in August
  • Please respond at the earliest convenience = Get back to me as soon as you can
  • Unfortunately I will not be able to attend  on … = Sorry, but I won’t be able to make it on ….


IELTS will give you bullet points as content. It is your task to expand these bullet points into paragraphs with details. You need to invent those details. And, of course, details require appropriate vocabulary.

8. Spelling and Punctuation

The examiner will check your accuracy in your spelling and your punctuation (this means your use of commas and full stops). If you make frequent errors in spelling or in punctuation it is unlikely to get over band score 6. Spelling is part of the marking criterion of Vocabulary and punctuation is part of the marking criterion of Grammar.

9. Structure and Paragraphs

You must also organise your letter into paragraphs. This is an essential part of your letter writing and the examiner will be marking you on your ability to use effective paragraphing. In IELTS writing task 1 (GT), the letter structure below is most common as it usually follows the three points which you must include in your letter. However you must adapt it to suit the task given to you by IELTS. So spend time reading the instructions and deciding your paragraphing.


  • address to the person (name and possibly title as explained previously on this page)
  • opening statement – reason for writing and in an informal letter to a friend it might also include a personal greeting.
  • body paragraph A (first bullet point expanded into a paragraph with detail)
  • body paragraph B (second bullet point expanded into a paragraph with detail)
  • body paragraph C (third bullet point expanded into a paragraph with detail)
  • closing statement (if needed)
  • signing off
  • name (choose a name or use your own)

10. Planning Your Letter

You should spend at least 3 or 4 minutes planning your letter. Covering all the points in your letter, adding details, using the appropriate style of letter writing and using paragraphs well count for about 50% of your marks. So it’s worth taking time to plan your letter well. Follow the points below for a well planned letter:

  1. read the instructions
  2. identify what style of letter you must write
  3. read through the points you must include in your letter
  4. think about how many paragraphs you will have and where to put each point
  5. plan what information you will add to each point
  6. decide how to open the letter
  7. think about the language you will use (both grammar and vocabulary) – it must suit the style of the letter
  8. decide how to close the letter
  9. plan the content of each body paragraph
  10. start writing

11. Model Letters for IELTS GT

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  1. Nischal khadka says


    The provided bar graph illustrate the percentage rate of as population aged 65 and over in Japan, Sweden and USA between 1940 and 2040

    overall, it is readily apparent that the Japan had the lowest percentage rate in the first year. However, it is going to outraced both countries while, sweden and Japan has the Similar upward trend.

    In 1940, Japan faced the downward trend between middle of the than it rocketed and over 25% in the upcoming year (2040) , yet sweden had the similar trend as compare to Japan , Sweden also going to show the upward trend in the future year (2040) while, being outraced by Japan

    On the other hand, USA has highest percentage rate in 1940, however in the year (1980-2020) it stable and rise a bit in the upcoming year (2040).

  2. Japsimran Singh says

    Dear Jaspreet,

    How have you been since we last met?

    I don’t know if you remember, But I’m writing to invite you to my 22nd birthday which I’ll be celebrating in Hotel Delta on 23rd Nov 2023.

    I still remember the moments we cherished together while on vacation in the United Kingdom, I will be more than happy if you’ll be able to come. Your presence would mean the world to me. Having you by my side on this significant occasion would make it even more memorable.

    Also when you’ll be coming, Make sure to plan for at least 2 weeks because I want you to stay in my house which I recently bought. During your stay, we’ll have plenty of time to reconnect, explore the area, and create new memories.

    Can’t wait to see you!

    Warm regards,
    Japsimran Singh

  3. Your words have the ability to uplift and inspire people from all walks of life.

    • Thanks. That’s really kind. I’m glad I have the impact to encourage others.

  4. Hi Liz,

    I recently came across a topic to write a letter to a singer do you think it should be formal?

    • It really depends on the instructions given with the topic. Most letters to singers will be fan letters which aren’t particularly formal but more informal in nature. But as I said, it depends on the other instructions given by IELTS.


    It’s been a long since we last met, I hope things are going well your side. Although it’s been a one long year since we met, it still feels very fresh in my mind as it rejuvenated our good old days.

    It’s my birthday coming up this June and I was wondering if you can take your time and visit me on my birthday. It will really mean a lot to me as I want to spend this precious moment with some special people of my life. I am deciding to visit nearby hill station on my birthday week, and explore some mind-boggling food, along with some beautiful sight-seeing.

    Since it will be a summer that time and you know how beautiful and happening British Columbia is, we can also indulge ourselves in some recreational activities like hiking, water games, and many more. Also, you don’t have to worry about booking any home as you know I have an own apartment and you can stay with me. Let me know once you make your mind, so that I can apply plan accordingly. I am looking to hear a positive revert from your side.


  6. Dear Amy,
    Last week was fun. I can’t believe it is over already. I want to thank you for an amazing week in the cabin and I was touched by the hospitality of your family. I forever will cherish our time together.
    When we came back home from the cabin, I started packing my stuff up because I had to leave early in the morning for Dakota. The train was scheduled to leave at 7 sharp and among packing, bidding farewells and leaving at a reasonable hour for train, I accidentally left my wallet on your couch. It is unfortunate, I know and yes, I am a little irresponsible, just stop judging me.
    Now the thing is, I have my driving license, debit and credit cards inside the wallet and I can not function without them understandably. I have an exam on Saturday, that’s in 4 days and I need my driving license because the bus station is around an hour away from where I live. Be a darling and send me the wallet by post as soon as possible. It would be a huge favor and I’d definitely owe you one, no questions asked.
    Take care,

  7. Hi Liz,
    I was going through your grammar E book . It is really interesting.
    I usually get confused when to use ing after to and when to is used as a to infinitive form.
    Statement from E book:
    “People who dedicate their lives to saving others should be respected by society.”
    My question is why can’t we say save instead of saving in above sentence.
    Your response shall be highly appreciated.😊

    • I’m glad you’ve got my Grammar E-book. The word “saving” is a noun, not a verb. The word “to” is a preposition connected to the verb “dedicated”. “People dedicate their lives to something”. For example, “she dedicated her life to music” or “she dedicated her life to playing the piano”.
      Another example of such language:
      – I look forward to hearing from you.
      – I look forward to your response.
      – I look forward to my birthday.
      The word “to” is a preposition connected to the verb “look forward”. The word “hearing” is a noun, the same as the words “your response” and “my birthday”.
      Go to the “Gerund” chapter in my Grammar E-book to learn about nouns like “saving” – Chapter 6 in Volume I.

  8. Hey D.,
    I already feel nostalgic for the holidays that we spent together and the memories that we created to cherish forever.
    Thank you, for your amazing hospitality. On that note, I was wondering if you saw my wallet at your place, seemingly, I forgot it there before leaving.
    I remember collecting and packing everything except the wallet which is usually in my denim back pocket, however, it wasn’t there. I realized it a bit late but I am sure I left it in the guest room on the bed’s side table. Just in case, you don’t find it at the designated place, then look around the bed counters. It’s a black Tommy Hilfiger case that glows in the dark so it generally grabs attention.
    I will be grateful if you could send it back to me since it’s a gift from Angela and she would get upset to see that I don’t have it on me. You can send the priority mail which would reach me in 2-3 business days. Needless to mention the whole address as you already know it, however, P.O. box number is recently updated to 4506.
    Also, We should plan next summer vacation soon. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes,

  9. Mohamed says

    Hi Liz,
    Your website was instrumental in helping me get great scores back in 2017. I am now revisiting your website again after all these years to take another stab at IELTS as my old scores have expired since. So first off I want to extend my sincere thanks to you for keeping this content free and accessible for all. Your website is a real treasure. I have recommended this blog to others on several occasions…

    Onto my question – Is a subject or heading required for the writing task 1? And does the letter need to be dated? – I plan to take the computer based version in about two weeks time.


    • For GT letters, you don’t need headings, titles, dates, addresses or anything like that. The first words will be “Dear …” or “Hi …”. And then you sign off with a fake name in the form that suits the type of letter you are writing. See the model letters which are linked on the page above.

  10. Imasha says

    Dearest Liz,
    This world needs more people like you!
    Stay blessed, strong and healthy.Best wishes from Sri Lanka.
    With Best regards,
    Imasha Shehani

    • That’s really kind. Thanks and greetings to everyone in beautiful Sri Lanka 🙂

      • Hey Liz I’m scared of the IELTS exam, I’m still studying hoping to write it soon, thanks so much for ur videos and teaching 💖

  11. Sam says

    Hi Liz,

    Is “Dear Sir / Madam” and “Yours faithfully” counted in the word count?


    • Yes. All words you write on your answer sheet are counted. Each individual word.

  12. Vacit Gunezer says

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I bought a Grammar e-book 20 minutes ago but I misspelled my email address. So, I haven’t received a link to reach my digital purchases. How can I reach you to solve the problem?
    Thank you

  13. Debannita Ghosh says

    Hi Liz give me feedback of this following informal/personal letter about giving a birthday invitation to a foreign friend. Many Thanks..!!!

    Hi David,
    It has been a long time since we have finished our graduation in UK. I am not sure whether you remember, my birthday is coming up on 4th March. So I am writing this letter to invite you cordially to visit my country on the occasion of my birthday.
    Since we finished our graduation, you have no idea how much I miss my student life specially the late night conversations and weekends outings I used to have with you. As soon as I returned my home country Bangladesh, I joined with my father’s business. With the busy schedules, I did not realize that it has been more than 5 years since we saw each other. I just wanted to have a break from my monotonous life and I think it would a great opportunity to meet you again and it will be an amazing vacation for you.
    You once expressed an interest to visit my country. So why don’t you have a leave and spend a month with me and my family? Once you decide on your plan, let me know what date you want to come and I will pick you up from the airport. I will make arrangements for you to stay in our house.
    Please let me know the date you want to come and really hoping that you will be able to make this trip for me. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Truly yours,

  14. Sasky Mali says

    Thank you so much Liz. I took my exam yesterday and your instructions made it an amazing experience. God bless.

    • I’m so glad it went well. Fingers crossed for your results 🙂

    • Marvin Villaflor says

      Hi Deb,
      I just want to thank you for making an effort of inviting me in your country I really appreciate it but there are moments and situations of our lives that is beyond our control even if how we hardly pushed to make it well in our favor . I wrote this letter to let you know that I can’t make it to be with you in your birthday because of my job I can’t just file a leave for that long vacation.
      I know that my presence in that important occasion makes that celebration more meaningful for you and your family but as far as I would love to be with you in that special day of yours, but there circumstances won’t allow me to do so, I know what you feel right now reading my letter but . I just want to express my deep regret of not being there for you.
      Nevertheless I just want greet you a Happiest Birthday in advance, I hope that it’ll become a successful event for you and your love ones and all the party goers , just enjoy the whole event it, That’s your day. And I believed that there are some other time we can make it on our way soon. I hope that you will understand my situation, and it won’t affect our long time friendship wishing you the best

      Yours truly

  15. Hi Liz, could u please assist my letter, this is my 1st letter and sharing approximate writing score band would be useful.

    Dear Ahmed,

    Thanks for borrowing me your advanced new camera. I’m writing to express my appreciation and my apology.

    Actually, I was using your camera during my trip to Alexandria and I accidentally drop it in the water. I immediately picked it up and tried to dry it with all possible ways. It worked for some days but the taken photos were not that clear and it suddenly stopped working again.

    I really apologize for this unintended accident, I was really trying to do my best to keep your camera in a safe place and not to share it with any family member.

    Please accept my apologize and allow me to fix this issue. Please send me camera model number as I can’t find it and the best place that buy this brand of cameras.

    Again, I really apologize for this issue and I hope it doesn’t affect our relationship..

    Yours sincerely,

    • Natthu says

      Ali, If you write a letter to a friend it should be an informal one in IELTS. I would suggest aligning with the tone. like you have used accept apologies, express a token of appreciation, these words are more formal and not appropriate to use in informal letters.

  16. Artists need a certain amount of freedom to develop their creativity. Some people think that artists should have total freedom to express any thoughts and ideas.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree?

    Artists should have the freedom to a certain extent to show their talent and expertise in society. Some people agree that freedom must be provided to creative people so that they can easily express their thoughts and what they have learned among us. In my opinion, freedom should be given but no one should come in harm’s way for one’s freedom.
    Having freedom means sharing ideas, experiences, and talents freely, without having the fear of consequences. After being influenced by the following, there are higher chances that more people jump into fields like arts, painting, drama, and many more. Being an expert in these things can be helpful to elaborate our culture along with our ethics and keep them alive. Moreover, many people try to use their talents to bring attention to our society towards social issues in many ways. That time, it reflects as a unity. During the farmers’ strike in India, many famous celebrities came forward and put a step forward to reach out their concern to the government.

    On the other hand, freedom doesn’t mean mocking someone’s feelings, religion, and disability. Needless to say, that creations should be constructive always, not destructive. Additionally, there should be no sense of tension and stress related to arts, as these activities are stress buster. Many incidents were noticed that lots of artworks like paintings created a nuisance. To illustrate, M.F Hussain is a famous painter in India who portraited a nude Hindu goddess which created chaos in that community. In addition to this, objectifying women in various art may impact negatively the young generation. Hence, these kinds of actions are against the positivity and emotions which may arise riots.

    To recapitulate, freedom within a limit is advisable so that our culture and values stay alive through generations, and beyond that, no one can humiliate anyone’s emotions by any means of art and thus, no negative footprints.

  17. Can you chak my essey semple?

    Universities should accept equal numbers of male and female students in every subject.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree?

    there are some differences toward the options in the number of male and female at the university. It is argued that equal numbers of genders should be accepted to every subject. There are some justifications which will be discussed in this following essay about accepting equal both sexes in every subject and some me against express to that view.

    On the one hand, both genders to accept equal numbers in every subject is not practical method in the university. Subjects that are preferred by male who are chosen ones. For example, medicine lessons are selected more by female than male due to some reasons that are obviously studied more to the nurses by females have more express to look after patients. However, number of females are highly skilled in creativity engineers lessons compared to men students. Despite preferring to accept numbers of gender in every subject. that may confuse to get education in both sexes.

    On the other hand, there are clear reasons to why numbers of gender should be received in some lesson. Firstly, according to latest researches, girls have same ability in some fields compared to men in terms of express and mastering science. Even in some sciences it is discussed that girls are smarter than male based on their performance at the universities like technology lessons which are required female employees instead of men due to make it happen such a registration in the internet company. Hence, universities should provide same gender in some lessons that female workers need to accept such kind of fields are emphasized above.
    To conclude, this essay discussed that although accept equal number of female and male seems to be unreliable. In my opinion, it is beneficial to increase the rate of female students to provide employees.

  18. Hi Liz,
    Is it alright to use ‘that’s saying something’ in written English, as it looks to me to be used only in spoken English?

    For example,
    “It was by far the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time, and that’s saying something since I take frequent exotic vacations.”

    Thank you for your help!

    • This isn’t about whether it is written or spoken language. It’s an informal expression used in informal English. If you are writing informally, you can use it.

  19. Hi Liz,

    I have taken the IELTS GT CD and got 6.5 in writing. One of the remarks is that I have inconsistent tone.

    Could you please confirm that I did the wrong signing off, which could have affected my score?

    The task is about an advertisment on second hand bicycle that I saw from a student of the same university as I am.

    The prompt started with “Dear___”
    I wrote Dear Mr. Johnson = Yours sincerely

    Should I end it with “Yours truthfully” instead?

    Thanks in advance

    • The page above explains about titles and signing off. Just take a look and learn the right way. You need to look at the purpose of the letter and also the person you are writing to. You do not need to write in such a formal way to a fellow student. You would write more formally to a teacher, not a student in your own university who is in the same position as yourself. If you met a fellow student in your own university who invited you for pizzas, would you really be so formal in the same way as speaking to a manager of a company? Look at the context, the person, the relationship, the status of the person, the letter aims etc and write accordingly and appropriately. It will negatively affect your score to sign off incorrectly, use the wrong title or use the wrong tone.

  20. Rama Chopra says

    Hi Liz,

    First, Thank You so very much for the wonderful lessons that you share. I have found them to be very helpful in my preparations.

    My question is in regards to the GT Task 1, writing. The question prompt says to “begin your letter with Dear Sir or Madam”. I am writing to the manager of a hotel, whom I don’t know personally. What is the correct way to begin? Should I say “Dear Sir/Madam” or pick one, either “Dear Sir” or “Dear Ma’am”?

  21. MUSHTAQ AHMED says

    Hi Liz,
    GT Letter for thanking friend. I wrote the letter. Please comment on it.

    Dear John,
    I reached home after a long journey. It was my dream to go for the hiking, thanks for making it true and you have a loving family I enjoyed staying with you in your home. I must say that you are very lucky that you will get so delicious meals everyday cooked by your Mom, I loved it. Please convey my regards and thanks her.
    Time flies so fast; one week we spent together will be memorable throughout my life. I really enjoyed the hiking, without you it might be impossible for me. The high mountains with the greenery, springs and scenery, it was like dream for me because living in the city you will not find such things.
    You remember we took so many photos. My family and friends like them most, now they are also planning the holiday like mine. I am sending you some of our memorable photos; hope you will like them also. If you want to see all photos you can find it on my Instagram or Facebook.
    Once again I thank you and it will be my pleasure if do visit me in your holidays.
    Hope to see you soon.

  22. Hi Liz,
    I would like to know if there’s any change or update in writing task 1 (general training) recently. I once read in an IELTS book that now it is ok to use “kind regards” in Formal letters. It doesn’t make any differences if you use name, tile or sir or madam in the title.

    • That is not connected to IELTS. That is simply English developing over the decades. Certainly “Kind regards” is very common to use these days at the end of formal letters. IELTS will tell you if you need to use a formal title, such as “Sir”. Otherwise, you must choose either a name with a title, such as Mr or Mrs, or a name without a title which is common in informal letters.

  23. Adam Ren says

    Dear Liz,

    Should we say “less people”, “less cars” or “fewer people”, “fewer cars”? I know grammatically speaking, we should use the latter ones, but I know many English-speaking people use the former ones.

    Not sure whether we will be marked down if we use “fewer cars/people”

    • “fewer” people is actually grammatically correct English. “less people” is actually grammatically incorrect English. However, many English people say “less people”. While you might get away with it in IELTS Speaking, you will be marked down for being incorrect in IELTS Writing.

  24. Ruvi Garcia says

    Hello Liz! here’s the letter I wrote. I think I did good but I need to work more with my time. i times myself and it was more than 20 mins. I practice more.
    Also, I just want to thank you for all your videos and tips. I am learning so much from you. God bless you and your family.

    Dear Kim,
    I am writing to you all to let you know that I enjoyed my vacation staying at your house and I am grateful for all of your warm welcome.
    Seeing you and the whole family after almost three years really makes my heart joyful. I enjoyed the whole week full of activities, joyrides, good food and catching up with each one of you. Can you imagine all the Filipino desserts we ate? Oh I missed it so much that I ate more than I should. Good thing your mom gave me some to bring home.
    There are two other things I most enjoyed during my visit. One was going to the beach and just soaking up in the sun. There’s nothing more beautiful than the beaches and sands there, in my opinion. Second was just being able to reminisce all our childhood memories together while enjoying home cooked meals and desserts.
    Also, remember all the photos I took with my camera? I printed all the nice ones and attached here in my letter. I can also email the others if you wish. Looking forward to see all of you on my next vacation.


  25. Abdullo says

    Hi Liz . Your free lessons very helpful for everyone. I like your lessons

  26. Jenny says

    Hi Liz, I found your ielts content very helpful.
    Please advice if the following is correct to mention in the beginning of task1 ;
    ‘I want to draw your attention to’ or ‘I would like to bring to your attention’

    • This is not an expression that is used in IELTS Writing Task 1. Go to my model answers for diagrams and see how I write them.

      • Shamsul haque liton says

        Dear, how can i get your model answers for diagrams, I’m new in IELTS. Please help me.

  27. Roopal says

    Hi liz,

    I have a question on grammatical range and accuracy. Are we permitted to use exclamation marks in the IELTS general training letter writing task 1? Or should I just stick to using commas, apostrophes and full stops? For example: Can I write the sentence below with an exclamation at the end or should I use a full stop? Thank you for your wonderful blog and videos.

    Hi Chad,

    Hope you’re well. I’m writing with some bad news, I’m afraid!

  28. Priya says

    Is it ok if the words go beyond the line in the answer sheet?

    • Do you mean, is it ok if the writing on the sheet is messy? The answer is “No, it isn’t ok”. The examiner must be able to read it all very carefully. Also make sure you stay within the lines. Being one or two letters over is fine, but try to stay within the lines and keep things tidy.

  29. Hi Liz,

    Firstly thanks for your tips. I scored 9 in Listening & Reading, 8 in Speaking but only 6.5 in writing. My strongest assumption is that i lost points because of punctuation errors. I would really appreciate if you can provide some tips on that.

    Thanks again!!

    • I will be publishing a Grammar E-book in about 6 weeks which will contain a chapter on punctuation. In total, it will be 272 pages in length and also have a Workbook for exercises included. I suggest you get it when it is released. Just subscribe to this site (for free) to get an email notification when it’s ready.

  30. You are organising a party for your colleagues. Write a letter to them and say
    What happened at the last year’s party
    Give suggestions on how to make it better
    Mention the venue, date and time to meet

    Dear All,

    I am writing this letter to provide all the information about the annual party which is being organised during this month.

    I understand that there were various issues faced by many people at the last year’s party. The main problem was that the quality of food and beverages was quite bad. Not only this, it was not enough for 100 people. Also, the music got turned off very early. However, we are trying to compensate for it in this year.

    I would like to suggest that please provide the confirmation in the next 2 days so that we can inform the exact count to the vendor. Furthermore, we have requested the vendor to play the music till 11 pm. I would request you all to reach the venue on time so that we have ample time to enjoy on the dance floor.

    The party is organised on Saturday, 14th of December from 6 pm onwards at The Palms Garden.

    Please message or call me in case you have any questions or concerns.

    Yours sincerely,
    Priya Agarwal

  31. Grigorii Solovev says

    Liz, thanks a lot for your wonderful web-site and tons of useful information. Your web-site helped me a lot during my preparation. (hugging emoji)

  32. Lirone says

    Hi Liz-
    Thanks for such rich information!
    When it comes to name’s titles –
    I was told to add Dot after Mr. Mrs. Dr.
    even J.K. Rolling.
    In your training, however, titles appear without a “dot”.
    Could you please advise which way is considered right by the IELTS examiners?

    Many thanks!

    • It is common in modern English to omit the dot. So, it’s up to you if you want to use it or not.

  33. Hi Liz,

    I have one query, If while writing letter or for that matter essay if i make some mistake and i strike the sentence and write it over, is it going to cost me any negative marking or bad impression?
    Looking forward to your response and thanks a lot for your help.


    • IT is completely fine to delete errors and change words. As long as the examiner can easily read your writing, it is fine.

  34. Sukrita says

    Hi Liz,

    A small question. What if we forget to write Dear Sir / Madam at the start of the letter. Assuming all the other points are adequately covered and cohesion is maintained, how much band score can be expected if we miss the opening salutation?? Please suggest.


    • There is no such rule about how much it would impact your score. It falls under the criteria of task achievement and it would have an impact along with everything else that impacts that particular marking criterion.

  35. Akshay Arora says

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for your fantastic content. Really appreciate your intent to help the masses and saving their time and other resources.
    I have a question pertaining to the conclusion of GT task 1 letter seeking help or requesting something. Is it appropriate to thank the reader in advance for their help or suggestions?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • There is no such thing as a conclusion in a letter. You have a final remark which is either based on the aims of the formal letter or a friendly farewell for a friend. Please see the model letters which are linked to the page above.

      • Victor says

        Thanks a lot Liz for your response. However, you still haven’t answered his/her question which is, “Is it appropriate to thank the reader in advance…?”

        • Without seeing the letter aims and instructions, it is not possible to say. You can’t decide on a fixed sentence for such a range of possible tones, aims, styles and people. A request letter could be to anyone about anything. You need to write something that is based on the information presented to you in the test. A high band score is about being flexible, not deciding before hand which sentence you will write. If you are asking your teacher for a reference letter – you would not thank them for reading your request letter – that wouldn’t be normal. However, you might say “Looking forward to hearing back from you.” or “I appreciate your help and look forward to hearing back from you.” My advice is pay attention to the letter aims, the person you are writing to and the prompts – then think about what information and sentence to write.

        • Kratika Bhardwaj says

          Hi liz’

          While practising my letters I have noticed that I do write the requirements from the question but I often while changing paragraphs simply start with the ask. Is it going to be a problem or my letters should be in sync with the last paragraph that I have written.


          • You are being marked on a logical order of information in both your letter and your essay. It is essential that the reader (examiner) can easily follow the order – no surprises. For the letter, you must follow the order of the bullet points given.

  36. Cherie says

    Hello! Great fantastic website! Sorry if I am repeating myself on this, I may have skipped your opinion on this. When we write a letter and if it says introduce yourself, how do we end the letter? I assume in the first paragraph you introduce yourself. Wouldn’t it be repetitive to have your name two times in the letter writing task? Thanks!

    • All letters have your name at the end – regardless of the content of the letter. That is a fixed thing. When it comes to following instructions and the prompts ask you to introduce yourself, it is in the context of the letter. If it is a letter to a company to complain, then you introduce yourself as a customer – not as a chatty friend. You must look at the aims of the letter and keep all content appropriate.

  37. Mazdak says

    Dear Liz,

    First of all thank you for all your efforts trying to help people for free! especially when you help people that you don’t know!
    When it comes to self study/training, listening and reading are quite easy to prepare on your own, but writing is not. I feel that I need my essays reviewed by experienced teacher and feedback provided.
    Liz, do you offer such lessons? would you be kind to respond by email or comment, program cost/content for Writing lessons only? All I need is my essays reviewed by you and feedback/marking given.

    best regards,

  38. Ghulam says

    Hello Liz,

    First tell me if I addressed you correctly with ‘Hello Liz’, considering we don’t know each other in person.

    Secondly tell me if it is right to mention ones name in the introductory paragraph, example, ‘this is John from finance department and I am writing with regards to..’ or should one only mention name while signing off.

    Will be thankful for your help.


    • 1. Yes, it’s fine 🙂
      2. No, you shouldn’t. Your name is at the bottom of the letter.
      Take a look at the model letters linked in the page above – they are written exactly as they should be in the test.

      • Ghulam says

        One of your model letters start with”my name is John Davidson and I am one of your frequent customers”

        What’s the rule for mentioning your name in the introductory paragraph?

        • If the instructions clearly state – introduce yourself – then you know it is time to introduce yourself in the letter. Just follow instructions.

  39. Aditi Dhilip says

    Hi Liz,

    With reference to writing a letter to former teacher, please clarify whether it is appropriate to ask “Hope you are doing well” as you know the teacher for a very long time. I have this doubt as the letter would be in formal style. Thank you in advance for helping me out.

    You rock as always.

    Take Care,
    Aditi Dhilip

    • I would not use it. You do not have a close or personal relationship with your teacher. A former teacher does not mean you have known the person for years. It means you new the person many years ago and probably haven’t been in touch for many years. You need to keep a formal style.

  40. Dammy says

    Thank you so much Mrs Liz

  41. Tim Burkey says

    Hi Liz,

    I gave the exam last weekend and I feel I didn’t do well. My letter topic was:
    You lost your driver license and someone returned it to you Write a letter to thank. Tell him/her why its important for you. Say what you want to do for them in return.

    Now to answer this semi-formal letter, I got confused as to how to address this person. I would probably know their name but neither gender nor age. Should I have said Dear Sir/Madam? I just wrote Dear Mr. John…

    Can you please suggest?


    • IELTS usually tell you if you need to start “Dear Sir/Madam”. You know the name of this person because they returned your license to you. So, you would address them as “Dear My Jones”. You would never write “Dear My John” because the name John is a first name and we do not use titles with only a first name. Age is not a factor in addressing someone in the English language. That is a factor influencing other cultures.

      • Tim B says

        They just mentioned that to start as Dear.. so I wrote dear Mr. John..
        Did I do it wrongly. My friend wrote as Dear Sir or Madam. How wrong do you think his approach was?

        Thanks again Liz.

        • It is wrong to write “Dear Sir” because you already know the name of the person. It is also wrong to write “Dear Mr John” because John is a first name and we only use the title “Mr” if we state the last name.

  42. Tim Burkey says

    Hi Liz,

    First of all I want to thank you for your service. Sometime back I asked you on how to start a letter on which its not clear what the purpose is. Thankfully, you helped. On the same note, I can’t figure out how to end it..

    Example Letter: Write a letter to a newspaper regarding condition of a local building which is of great importance. Why is this building important, what is wrong with it and what action do you suggest.

    Firstly, its not clear what a newspaper is supposed to do. As you said we can write: “I am writing to you concerning the poor condition of …..”

    However, at the end I am confused what to write. Do I say that “Please take necessary action and I look forward to your reply”. But this doesn’t seem right…

    Or, is it ok to say “I look forward to my letter being published in your newspaper.”
    And just end it here. But that doesn’t look like a good reason to write a letter.

    What do you suggest Liz?

    • It is possible to start in the way you have suggested or you could try “I am writing to bring to your attention…” – both options are fine.
      The ending for a formal letter really depends on what you want or what you expect to happen – and the feelings involved (the tone). It is the expected outcome that you are concluding. If you are merely reporting something, you might say “I hope you will take this into consideration etc”., if you want a response, you would say “I hope to hear back from you etc” or you are complaining the tone will be stronger “I hope to receive a positive response from you etc” or “I hope this matter will be resolved at the earliest possible time etc”.
      You are writing to an editor because you want the newspaper to pay attention to this issue. That is the reason and your opening line. Your final goal is to have your letter printed or have the newspaper bring this issue into the public eye. So, it is fine to say “I would be grateful if you could publish this letter and bring the issue to light.”. Remember, the editor is not responsible for this problem and if he or she publishes the letter, you would be grateful, so it is fine to use those words in this situation.
      I hope this helps 🙂

  43. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for all your help.

    I notice my major problem in writing is spelling mistake. However, the reason for this error is mostly because of time as I am in a rush to finish Please can you recommend a strategy that may help because its affecting my listening as well


    • Spelling is something that you can fix during your proof reading time after you finish your essay. You should always train to leave time for proof reading. Spelling should not be such a problem for listening because you have time to check your spelling after the recording has finished.

  44. Eric says

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for your helpful tips. They are very systematic and informative. I learn a lot from your articles.

    Just one question to ask, when I plan the paragraphs and try to address the three points, should I always follow the given order of the three points? Or it just doesn’t matter at all. Thank you, Liz.

    • It’s a good question. You are being marked on logical order. You have been given the order of information and you should stick to it.

  45. Hi Liz,
    Please, I would like to know if it’s ideal to leave a line between Paragraphs. Thanks

    • Yes, it makes the paragraphs easier to see for the examiner. But this is a recommendation, not a rule.

  46. Segun says

    Hi Liz,

    Please regarding the signing off, my teacher told me back then to put a comma after my surname before my first name.. E. G
    Yours Faithfully
    Diamond, Benson

    Is it advisable to use a comma before the first name?

    Thanks in advance

    • Liz says

      You write your first name first and your family name second – there is no comma between them.

  47. Amandeep Singh says

    Hi Liz,

    Can we sign off letter by writing ‘Sincerely’ only instead of “Yours sincerely”? Would that be acceptable?

    Awaiting your response.


  48. Tejinder kaur says

    Hi Liz,
    Thank you so much for the detailed information. I have a query about using the answer sheet for GT task 1. My teacher told me that we should write from the very first line until the very last line but I can’t understand how because I have written 165 words and still the 2nd page is half empty. Please suggest. is it OK to leave some lines empty if you have finished your letter?

    • That is complete nonsense. There is no such rule in IELTS at all. Your instructions are to write over 150 words. The requirements for a high band score is that you extend information sufficiently for your letter which means aiming for between 170 and 190 words. Going over 200 words is not recommended. If you need another answer sheet, you can put your hand up and request one.

  49. hari kishore says

    if i find a spelling is incorrect in the last 2 mins of check, then can i strike off and write the correct spelling ? or should i correct the spelling in the same word itself ?

    • Yes, you can correct spelling. It’s up to you how you do it – as long as the word is easy to read, that is all that matters.

  50. Nishtha says

    Hi Liz,
    In case of letter of instruction for this example:
    you forgot your wallet at friends house after returning from vacation with them and asking to return the wallet. Should we give an address telling them where to return it? or we assume it’s your friend he/she would know your address?

    Thank you,

    • Your friend would know your address. Your instructions would be to return it via post and you would refund the postage. Or you will meet up with them tomorrow and pick it up in person. Well done thinking about this point – you are certainly right in considering these things. Always think more about the letter and the relationship between people.

  51. Eleanya Onuoha says

    Hi Liz, Pls can you tell me if an underlined letter subject can be used in ielts task 1 formal letters, immediately, after the greeting “Dear Sir”? Pls see an example below. Also, can a signature be scribbled between Yours faithfully, and the writer’s name (John Bolt), for instance?

    Dear Sir,

    Request for Additional Leave Days (Subject Underlined)

    I am writing to seek the elongation of my official leave period from 26 to 31 days. Etc…………….

    • After the title in a formal letter, you must write the opening statement which is a full sentence that is a statement of purpose. Don’t write anything else as you have suggested above – not for IELTS.

  52. navpreet kaur says

    thats really wonderful information A big thank to u ms liz

  53. Aaron says

    Hi Liz,
    This might be a bit of a silly question but i’ll ask anyway;
    Is the spelling in the IELTS based on English (UK) or English (US)? i.e ending words in “our” rather than “or” and using “ise” rather than “ize”.

    Great job with the tips by the way!


  54. Carlos Jr. says

    Hi Liz,
    Thank you for all the valuable information.
    I’ve recently taken some tests in which I had to write letters. Some were quite similar to IELTS. However, I was advised not to sign my real name at the end of it, when closing.
    Instead, I was supposed to write a fictional name so as to prevent fraud in correction.
    So, can I sign my real name at the end of the IELTS letter?
    Thank you so much for answering.

    • Of course you can. Your name is at the top of the paper anyway. However, I mostly advise people to invent names – because the whole letter is fictional, not because of fraud or anything else. At the end of the day, it is 100% your choice and doesn’t affect your score or your personal security. you know you only write your name – you don’t actually put a signature!!

  55. Venuka says

    Hi Liz,
    Please accept my sincere thanks for your support for providing us the most eminent and paramount information with regards to IELTS.
    I have a one concern about the sentence ” Hope this letter find you in pink of your health”.
    it this is fine to use in informal letter as opening.
    Thank you

    • It is an overused idiom – don’t use it. It doesn’t show a good level of English. It shows someone with weak English who is trying to impress. It is almost never used in England anymore. Avoid using idioms and stick to other idiomatic language such as phrasal verbs.

  56. Rashad says

    Hello Liz,
    I would be grateful if you could explain me if using French words like “raison d’etre”, “faux pas”, carte blanche etc. are seen as formal words

    • They are neither formal nor informal. They are used only in specific situations and I would not recommend using them for IELTS writing.

  57. Dear liz, am very grateful for all the wonderful works you have been doing and foe that i say thank you. Please i want to no if you will be penalized if you don’t use contractions in personal letters.

    • It is not about being penalised. It is about getting a good score. You should use contractions in an informal letter – it shows appropriate use of grammar.

  58. Hi Liz. Thanks a lot for making us available with so much of resources to excel in IELTS exam. I have certain queries on model answers which you have written on certain parts of the paragraphs. I have enlisted my queries below; please help me on the same:

    a) Signing off: “I look forward to hearing form you”. Can i replace “hearing” with “hear” i.e. “I look forward to hear from you”

    b) Vocabulary : “I highly recommend if you come in August = it’d be great if you came in August.” I believe that “came” should be replaced with “come” i.e. “it’d be great if you come in August” Please help me if i am missing some concepts in interpreting this.

    • a) No, that is not possible.
      b) I did not write “I highly recommend if you come in August”. I wrote “I highly recommend that you come in August = it’d be great if you came in August”. One sentence uses a clause “that” and one uses “if”. These are two completely different types of grammar. They are correct as I have written them. You cannot alter the tense of the verb “come” in the first “that” clause.
      From your questions, it appears your English is not strong enough to be flexible. This means you need to be very careful in your writing because the more errors you make, the lower your score.

  59. Hi Liz,
    Thank you for sharing these useful informations. I am confused about something;
    At the end of GT task 1 question, it is written ‘Begin your letter as follows: Dear Sir or Madam,’. Do I have to write ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ again or start to write letter directly?

    • The instructions tell you how to start your letter. That means you start your letter with the words they have given you.

  60. Hi Liz,

    What a great place to learn the IELTS.
    Can you please tell me if it is wrong to use “Hope this letter finds you well” at the salutation for the formal letter?

    Thank you!

    • If you are writing to the manager to a hotel who you have never met, it would be completely inappropriate to start that way. You always start with an opening line that expresses in formal terms what the letter aim is.

  61. Hi Liz,

    I had a quick question please – for semi-formal letters (such as a letter to a friend about a problem or something related to work), I understand we should be using contractions, like: I’m, you’ve, and others. However, the tone of the letter needs to be appropriate.

    Could you please confirm.

  62. dear liz,
    i am studying for the exam from New Insight Into IELTS by Cambridge and according to one of the model answers written, a letter to a school teacher asking them for a recommendation letter is a semi- formal type. please tell if it’s correct?

    • Teachers have different ways to categorise letters. I personally would not categorise this letter as semi-formal. For me, it would be formal. It is not to a personal friend, it is to a teacher about a formal subject.

  63. Hi Liz,
    Your site seem to be a hotspot for IELTS learning, and I have a lot from the tips you provide. I’ve a question regarding the alignment we must follow in the letter. In few places I have learnt that the letter can either have a left hand alignment format. It means the “Title”, the “Salutation”, the paragraph alignment, the “Signoff” and the “Name”.
    So, my question is, will it be right if while writing a letter, as , “Title” of the letter in middle and rest of the letter as left aligned.
    Please confirm the alignment pattern for both, formal as well as informal letter.

    • This is an English language test, not a real letter. Just write your letter the same as my model letters. You do not worry about alignment in IELTS tests. Don’t over think this. It is a simple English language test.

  64. AbdulRehman says

    Hello Miss Liz
    Thanks for your lessons, these are very beneficial
    I just have a question that how i can enter the contact details in the letter. As it says in question prompt:
    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

    • It means to explain where you will be and how you can be contacted. You need to think logically about this. It isn’t a trick question. If someone looks after your house and pets when you are on holiday, will you give them your phone number to call you about problems? Think logically about IELTS letters.

      • Lekshmi C says

        Hey Liz,

        I was reading through your reply and I have a doubt. If a friend is staying over at my place taking care of my pet, then he would anyway have my number. So would the following sentence look good on the letter?

        Hey Ron,

        Thanks for agreeing to stay with Puffy and take care of him while I’m away. While I’m gone, if there are any issues and you need to contact me, just give me a call to my mobile. Just make sure to adjust the time difference as I’ll be 3 hours ahead of your time.

        See you soon,

        • Yes, it’s fine. Although be careful with your prepositions – give me a call on my mobile.
          Puffy is a strange name – what type of animal is it 🙂

          • Lekshmi C says

            Hello Liz,

            I was using my dog’s name here. Puffy is my dog 🙂 and I’ve actually had friends take care of him while I was on a vacation. I was thinking of using this directly.

            I’ve been going through each one of your videos and all the comments and replies you’ve given to them. They’re really helpful and I’m thankful to you.

            I intend to write my GT in December and I’m going to cover all the topics from your blog only.

            • I wish you lots of luck and give Puffy a hug from me 🙂

              • Lekshmi C says

                Thanks a lot Liz. It’s 1:30am and he’s asleep. I’ll pass your hug on to him in the morning. 🙂

                Now that you’re online, I just had another doubt that I’ve been avoiding asking since you’ve made it clear on many of your replies to comments, but since I found a few contradicting statements in comments section, I just want to be double sure

                Yours faithfully
                This sign off is for formal

                Yours sincerely
                This sign off is for semi formal

                This sign off is for informal

                I’m only going to stick with these to avoid confusion. Is this okay or is there any change required in any of these?

                • Both “Yours faithfully” and “Your sincerely” can be used for formal letters. You need to know both because it depends on what the title of the letter is “who it’s addressed to”. If it is addressed “Dear Sir”, you must use “Your faithfully”, but if it’s addressed to someone’s name “Dear Mr Brown”, it must be “Your sincerely”. Both of them are formal. So don’t divide them in any other way. You would not write “Love” as a sign off for a friend – it would normally be “Take care” or “see you soon” – you need to adapt it to the letter aims.
                  If you are aiming for the higher band scores, you need more flexibility in your approach and in your use of language. You need to think more about the person and the aims. Don’t give yourself such fixed black and white rules in terms of language and task achievement (including tone and style).

  65. Dear Sara

    It is almost one month I am going to write to you and advise you why I haven’t returned the sunglasses I have borrowed from you.

    To be honest, the sunglasses were damaged during my trip when I was coming back to my home and I am so sorry about that. I know that sunglasses were so important to you as it was presented to you by your wife.

    When I was coming back to my home, I decided to ride a motorbike in order to reach my home sooner. On my way, unfortunately, I had an accident and collided with a car stopped in front of me suddenly. So the sunglasses were dropped over the ground and one of its glasses broke immediately.

    At first, I was feeling guilty and didn’t know how to inform you about this and how I can solve the problem. I research so much and found that there is a store near our city who can repair that sunglasses. So I sent it away to be fixed soon and when I’ve taken it back, I will send it to you as soon as possible.

    Again, I am so sorry and hope that you forgive me because of this problem.

    Yours sincerely,

  66. Augusta says

    Liz,am so grateful.Just want to thank you and also let you know you are doing a great job.I got overall band of 7.5 after I visited your site.

  67. Nirav Shah says

    Hi Liz,
    I and my wife are preparing for the IELTS and find your lessons effective and simple.
    I have a question and need your help –
    In Writing Task 1 :Formal letter After Salutation, “Can I write “Greetings of the day / season as I begin my letter?
    Best Regards

  68. Liz thanks a lot for quality tips on battling IELTS. My question is about the order of bulleted points. Is it ok to reorder them in the essay? Some of my IELTS practice test examiners did mark points off for that. But I’ve heard people say that it shouldn’t affect the overall grade

    • You are being marked on your logical order of information. I suggest you review marking criteria – very important to understand.

  69. Hello,

    I would like to know for ielts is it a good habbit to write a letter “subject” or not for the letter writing.

    Best Regards,

    • Do you mean a title? You do not need a title. If you mean a reference point – you don’t need to do that. Just write your letters as you see my model letters.

  70. Hello Liz,
    Do we need to include a sending address while writing any of the letters?

  71. Manpreet Singh says

    One question in my mind is that if there no name is given in letter? then, we have to assume the names from our own? in Informal or semi-formal?

  72. Prince Sindhi says

    Hi liz,

    Thanks for this wonderful website. It helped me alot. I just wanted to ask that how to improve idea generation for task 2 GT because i am facing issues in getting the ideas for writing and its time consuming. Please suggest how to get it fast.

    Prince Sindhi

  73. Dilanka Madushani says

    Hi Liz,
    There was a recent exam question asking to write a letter to a person who has returned your lost driving licence. Should we write a formal or semi-formal letter for this? Also is it appropriate to address the person as “Dear Sir/Madam”.


    • 1. do you know this person as a close friend? 2. do you know private intimate details of this persons life? 3. do you think this person put their name on the return of your driving license? 4. would you put your name at the bottom of a letter when you return a valuable item to someone? Try to use your common sense when approaching IELTS letters. You need to understanding and think about your relationship with the person. Now you tell me – is it informal? Do you know the person’s name?

      • Dilanka Madushani says

        Thank you for the quick reply Liz.
        Yes, now I understand the letter should be formal, since I don’t know the person well.
        I don’t know the person’s name, usually these are annonymously sent, so better to address using “Dear Sir or Madam”.

        • You can’t thank someone, unless you know their name. The letter is formal and will be addressed to Mr Brown. You know the name because Mr Brown gave you your driving license back. Usually when we return something, we say our name.

  74. Dear Liz,

    I write again. I have purchased your advanced lessons, and I hope that i can gain more than a 6.5 this time around. My total scores were 8,8,7.5 and 6.5 again. I have a question that pertains to salutation for GT task 1 letter. I had learnt previously that to end, it is useful to write;
    Yours sincerely,
    Best Wishes,
    Your faithfully,


    Now to my question, if you notice for “Best Wishes”, it is written in initial caps “B” and “W”. Please can you tell me if this is correct and why it is different from the others that are written in sentence cap? Now I am willing to unlearn whatever I had been used to previously.

    Please respond to this, its urgent.

    • You should not be focusing on how to write one letter in your writing test. If you are failing to hit band 7, there are obviously serious reasons.
      1) You must review the number of errors you make in vocabulary and grammar. Are you trying to impress the examiner – this is a mistake. Every poor choice will lower your score.
      2) Review your techniques, your ability to address all issues, your understanding of common topics, your linking techniques etc
      – You can write Best Wishes in an informal letter if you wish. It’s an informal letter and we often write than way.

      • Saeed Afridi says

        Hi Liz,
        Thank you so much for your helpful techniques. I improved my IELTS writing too through your materials on your website. You are the best instructor!

      • Hi liz,
        Thank you so much for your fabulous guidance of ielts in every four categories.
        my last ielts exam question was as follows.
        Q. You are working in foreign country and suddenly you are leaving your job and going back to your home country due to any emergency. Write an appology letter to your friends at office because you are leaving without meeting them. You should start your letter like this.
        Dear _______
        My question is, in this scenerio i should address one friend name at the office and tell her to convey my message to everyone at the office Or i should address all the friends togther like this..Dear Friends

        • If it tells you to write to friends, then your letter is addressed to friends – Dear John and Jane,

  75. Htet says

    Hi Liz,
    I saw a sentence you wrote in your explanation about writing.

    “It is essential that you follow use the three points to structure your letter and provide the foundation for the information”.

    In the sentence above, you use “follow” and “use” together. Could you explain what kind of structure is that?

    Thank you kindly,

  76. Mani says

    Hii liz
    Thanks for your valuable study material

  77. sonam says

    your content is really helpful. More power to you!

  78. Garry says

    Hi Liz,
    Can we write a saying or idioms in formal letters?


  79. Cloud says

    Dear Liz,
    You mentioned that we won’t get more than a 6 if spelling is frequently wrong. I do have a serious issue with spelling since a long time. even the tutors get shocked when they go through my writing because they say the grammar is excellent and I use a quite good range to vocabulary, but my spelling is extremely bad (the word is understood though). So what can I do to improve my spelling? I actually wonder if there is an option to inform the IELTS committee about special cases? I don’t know what to do really as I need to get band 7 in writing.

    • Liz says

      I said that you won’t get more than 6 in the criterion of vocabulary if your spelling contains frequent errors. This is not the same as getting no more than 6 in your whole writing task 1 or task 2. The criterion of vocabulary counts for only 25% of your total mark. But it’s still essential to improve your spelling. You can do this on spelling websites, from writing words lists, memorising spelling etc etc. Go online and google spelling practice online. If you are dyslexic, it will be possible to submit a medical certificate. But if the problem is just poor spelling – then you will need to work hard to improve it.

  80. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for your wonderful lesson.I just want to clarify my doubt such as if we have to write a letter to leave any courses in middle so does it falls under formal?
    So for formal we have to use dear sir/ madam, but actually we know our tutor name so can I use his/ her name at first?
    Please give me your valuable inputs.

    Thanks in Advance,
    Amit jaiswal

    • You use “Sir/ Madam” or you use their name “Mr Jones” or “Mr John Jones” – all are possible for a formal letter. You only use “Sir” if you do not know the person’s name you are writing to.

  81. Kiran Johnson says

    Hi Liz,

    How should I address the below Task 1 question – GT:

    Q: A builder did some repairs in your house recently and you are unhappy with their work. Write a letter to your builder.

    Is it should be Dear Sir, (Formal Letter)
    Is it should be Dear Mr. John (Semi Formal)

    Please assist.


    • If you have employed the builders, then you usually know his name. You use “sir” when you don’t know someone’s name.

  82. Preeti Jindal says

    Hello Liz,

    I have 2 queries related to Writing exam:
    1. Should we use pen or pencil? What do you suggest?
    2.Is cutting allowed in paper if we are using pen? Would there be penalty?

  83. raveender says

    Hi Liz,
    What type of letters are expected in GT? I mean, Formal or Semi-formal or Casual?
    Thanks in advance.

  84. Sehrish says

    Dear liz,
    Is it a good idea to memorize vocabulary words related to the essay writing topics?As you always say.. Don’t memorize phrases.. so what is the best strategy to prepare for essays?Reading more & more articles? What do you suggest?

  85. I need help in my secondary school letter writing. Does anyone have any tips.

  86. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for the wonderful website and useful tips. I want to get your writing Task 2 tips. advanced. As I saw, there are several videos on the page. Do all videos have separate costs or it is enough to buy one and then you have access to all?


  87. Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for your amazing videos and blog. I have just completed my ielts exam and in the writing task 1 I was supposed to write a letter to a friend about my college, in my letter I didn’t write any names, so I started my letter with “Dear………,” and I ended it with “Yours” without putting my name.

    Would I be penalized for this and lose marks?

    Thanks a lot

    • You need to write a name at the start and the finish. It will affect your score, but it’s only one small mistake.

  88. Hi Liz
    Hope you are doing well. Thank you so much for this wonderful site. Do you provide writing task correction service? If yes, how much it would be?

  89. Hello Liz, Great work you are doing here and God bless the day I ran into your website!

    To my enquiry: Is it proper to write in short form in my GT letter?

    E.g, ‘It’d will great if I don’t have to submit…..”
    Will “It’d” and “don’t” be acceptable instead of “it would” and “do not”


  90. Hi Liz! I found your lessons to be the best! You are so clear and organised to explain that it makes learning really easy and fun! THANK YOU!
    One simple question, are we asked to write in coursive or script? If we do so, how strict is this? My handwriting is very clear and tidy, but some letters might not look like script and I am curious if this can cause a problem for my score.

    Many thanks again and keep helping us!

  91. Hello Liz,

    Could you please explain the scoring pattern of IELTS writing (General) exam?

    Awaiting for your response.

  92. Hi dear Liz,
    In a letter writing can I integrate two bullet points and explain them in a single paragraph, does it degrade my score?
    I’m not sure whether we must focus on one single point in each paragraph or not.
    Such as what we do in essay writing.
    I would be grateful if you give me your advice.

  93. Sanchi says

    Hi Liz,

    If I was asked to write a letter on behalf of my company. Should I need to add a little introduction about my company or atleast should I mentioned the name of the company?
    For example, I am writing this letter to book the conference center for a special training of our company or should I write the name of the company?

    Thank you so much….!!!!! ☺☺

  94. Simran says

    Hello Mam
    How r u…hope u r doing well
    Mam…can you please update videos on GT letters.
    As u said that u’ll post at the end of year. So we are waiting for ur videos.
    Thanks in advance

  95. Bhavesh says

    Dear Liz,

    Trust you are well. Your expert advice is really useful for all. I merely wanted to know about letter writing in general training exam. If we forget to write “your fauthfully” or “regards” at the end of the letter, do we really lose marks? If yes how many?


  96. Good article.
    Small correction though,

    “Explain which courses you’re interested in” 😉

  97. Kazi Afjal Hossain says

    Hi, Liz
    I like to print your valuable comments. But I can’t do this. Please help me.

  98. hi madam.. i m little confused about official letters . in my school n college we wrote subject and name and designation so should i have to follow that or not … will you explain me . i seek to your blog for information regarding this. i didn’t find your video regarding letter writing of ilets. if it is available then plz share the link

    ,my doubt
    we should write our name at the end of letter ??
    in official letter do we have to write Subject :– an application for a job

    • Please read the page above as it answers your questions. Also click on the links above as they will take you to model letters.

  99. Is letter to the principal of school is formal or semi formal?As principal is known but it is authority also.
    Thank you

    • An informal letter is to someone you have a CLOSE PERSONAL relationship with. Think about the word “personal” – do you really sit down with a principle and talk about your private life in detail? Do you talk about problems with your wife or husband? Think more about a personal relationship.

  100. Hi Liz,

    Can phrasal verbs be used in formal and semi-formal writing?


  101. Prasanth Kannan says

    Hi Liz,

    Hope you are doing well!
    what if I write an informal letter in a semi formal / formal style. Will the score be reduced?


  102. Hi Liz,

    If I don’t know the spelling of a good word, it is better to go ahead with wrong spelling or repeat a word and loose marks for paraphrasing.


  103. blessing says

    Hello Liz,
    please does it mean that letter writing is just for general test,it cant be featured in academic test.Urgent reply Please.

  104. Sajid Bhojani says

    Hello Liz
    Resignation letter and application for leave letter are formal or semi formal?

    • For course it is formal. How can it be informal? It is to your boss, not to a close personal friend.

  105. Hi
    Dear Liz,
    I got fuzzy about the following Question. Is this a Discussion, Advantage / Disadvantage, or Opinion essay? Could you please clarify?
    Question: In many countries, the amount of crime is increasing.
    What do you think are the main causes of crime?
    How can we deal with those causes?

    Thank you so much.

    Mohammad Imran Khan

  106. Eveline says

    Hi Liz,

    Is it essential to cover the three specified points in a sequential manner? Can I not Jumble them up? Although I do ensure that all points are covered I do not particularly maintain the sequence.Will it reduce my score?Also I recently read a tip stating that using cliches was not a good idea. I have been using them a lot lately and fail to understand how would it negatively influence my score? Please suggest.


    • Part of your score is on logical organisation of information – so mixing things up will lower your score. You need to understand more about what the examiners will mark you on.
      Each sentence you use in your writing test and speaking test must be uniquely yours as an example of your own English. So, using memorised phrases is not an example of your English and won’t count in an English language test such as IELTS.

  107. Eveline says

    Hi Liz,
    Is it grammatically correct if I use the following statement in a thank you note.

    Thank you for being the wonderful host that you were during our stay at your place.


  108. AMR SAID says

    Hello Liz

    Thanks for all of this precious information and lessons
    I want to know how will be the tone for a semi-formal letter, shall we pretend it as an informal letter?
    Also, the ending shall it be Yours Sincerely or All the best
    The name at the end shall it be with family name or no.
    Appreciate your kind reply please

    • There are no fixed rules. It depends who you are writing to. Most informal letters are to someone you have a strong personal relationship with but on a serious matter, such as work. So, you will blend friendly language with serious language.

  109. Shweta Verma says

    Hello Liz,

    Is it necessary to maintain the order of sub-questions while writing the letter?

  110. Dear Liz!
    Thanks for your great support regarding IELTS test. I have recently taken IELTS Academic and now want to take General in next month. I have some questions about GT-task2. (1) Can we use the same academic language, grammar and vocabulary for GT-Task2, as we use for Academic-Task2? (2) Can we use Idioms, phrasal verb and proverbs? (3) Is GT-task2 is similar to Academic-task2? thanks

    • There is no difference in technique or how you write your essay for writing task 2. GT and Academic task 2 are the same. However, GT essay questions are sometimes easier.

  111. Parul Jain says

    Hi Liz
    I usually follow your videos. Thanks for helping so many people appearing for IELTS.

    My exam is on 30th Sep. Last time I got band 6 in writing but I need minimum 7. Although I am working towards better structure and clear answer statement this time. Would request you to please help with some more crucial areas required to get band 7.


  112. Hi Liz,
    Could you please go through the letter i just wrote, and let me know if it’s good or not.

    You have purchased a ticket of music concert, but you can attend the event. Write a letter to your friend to offer him the ticket. In your letter:
    * Explain the details of the event
    * Why you cannot attend the concert
    * Suggest how you friend can get the ticket from you.

    Hi Debra,
    It’s been so long since we were last in touch. I hope you’ve settled the exams already. I thought i’d invite you to the upcoming Fenty beauty concert in the UK, on 22nd of December.

    Fenty Beauty concert will be held at the Manchester stadium at 10pm precisely, although, African time can be considered. It will include performances from various artists such as Lilwayne, Kendrick Lamar, Alicia keys (your favorite, I know) and a host of other artists.

    Although, I’m disappointed I won’t be able to make it, as you know Rihanna is my favorite artist of all time. This is because i have got my IELTS on Saturday, the 23rd of December, at Birmingham. I immediately thought about you and how delighted you will be on getting such an invite.

    I have thought of several ways you can receive the ticket. I can send it directly via mail to be delivered, or I give Penny Morgan, since she will be attending as well. Either way you will get it, so prepare to have a blast. Be prepared to gist me all, from A-Z.

    Write back soon,

  113. Dear Liz,

    Which one do you recommend amongst these?
    -Attempting Tast 2 before Task 1; or
    -Attempting Task 1 before Task 2.


    • It is your choice completely. However, most people who start with task 2 get lost in their essay and then run out of time for task 1.

  114. Hi Liz,

    In a semi formal letter, I started with dear sir/madam, do I lose marks?


  115. Hy Liz,
    Now I am confused can we get a letter for wt1 ? I haven’t heard of this till now .

    • If you are taking the General Training IELTS test, you will get a letter in task 1. If you are taking the academic test, you won’t get a letter.

  116. Hi Liz,

    Can we write the address, when it is not mentioned in the question as not to write addresses?

  117. Kapil Ahuja says

    Hi liz,

    Is there any space for rough work or planning points for writing so that I can make bullet points in rough and than elaborate in final writing task.
    Please advise

  118. Sandeep says

    Hi Liz
    Should we write date in the end of the forml letters??

  119. Attiq says

    Hi Liz,
    I have question regarding a letter given under “Sample Letters for Writing Task 1”.

    Does this letter “Asking for a Letter of Reference” is formal or semi-formal? I believe this letter is formal because it is related to serious issue and we don’t know the teacher personally.

  120. Safdar says

    Should we write Yours faithfuly OR Your faithfully in ending remarks.

  121. Sumit says

    Hi Liz,

    which one of the following is correct in context of writing titles?
    1. Mr.
    2. Mr

  122. I have been following your website, I am really thankful to you, I want to ask 1 thing, You said letter should be started from Dear Sir, then where should we write address and date?similarly should we use fake names or our real name?

    • You don’t need to use date or address for an IELTS letter. You can use your name or a fake name to sign off.

  123. Asim Maqsood says

    Dear Liz,

    I’m a frequent reader of your blog. Using only your blog for about two weeks, I scored 7.5 in academic.
    Now I’m preparing for general and have high hopes. I would kindly ask you to please make some videos on letter writing. Although the text material on this page is very explanatory itself, it would be nice to have some videos too.
    Your blog is always my first recommendation to anyone preparing for IELTS. Surprisingly, teachers in British Council in Riyadh, KSA also recommend their students to follow your blog.

    You are doing marvelous job in helping hundreds of students.
    Keep it up.

    • Thanks for your message. The reason I haven’t made any new videos for over one year is actually due to health problems. I hope to get back to making them next year – fingers crossed!! I certainly have some GT letter writing videos on my list 🙂

  124. Gurpreet says

    Hello Liz

    The letter to write the owner of your flat or house about some problems you are facing is FORMAL or INFORMAL?

    Do we need to write Dear Sir or Dear Mr. Smith?

    Please make it clear.


    • This is a formal letter to your landlord. Usually you know his name.

      • Gurpreet says

        Thank you for quick reply. So it means I can start writing by Dear Mr. John ( I. E his first name?

      • but in staring you said that formal letter is to someone you don’t know

        • To someone to you don’t have a personal relationship with. It might be your boss or your landlord – you don’t know these people closely.

  125. Hi Liz, Thanks for your valuable inputs. I have a small query, can I start my letter by writing “Greetings” irrespective of kind of letter

  126. Anita says

    Hi Liz,

    Wonderful tips Liz.. I was much confused about the writing part. These tips are really helpful.

    I do have a question, Is it alright to use x or abc/xyz instead of names in the letter?

  127. Kayode says

    Dear Liz

    Thanks for your tips and they are very helpful, but I need a clarification on this.

    In writing my letter, do I need to write my address and the title of the letter before going into the body of the letter?

  128. Hi Liz,

    If i not use contractions in mix or informal letters, there would be any impact on my score.

    I mean, it is mandatory to use contractions or not?



    • Contractions are a normal part of informal writing – you should use them in an informal letter.

  129. khalid says

    you are incredible your tips is very useful thank you..

  130. Vineet Sarawat says

    Hi Liz,

    So this is about the closing of letters. You have suggested to use titles with the names in the closing of letters, but when I was practicing with the sample books which I have received from IELTS (after my registration for IELTS), I am seeing that they didn’t used titles for closing names and on many of the sites not titles are being used.

    Can you please help why are you suggesting to use titles in the closing part of the letters.

    • Liz says

      It depends on the type of letter. Formal letters usually use a title. Informal letters do not. There is no one rule. It is about learning the aim and style of the letter.

  131. Doug says

    Hi Liz,

    Do you have any video class for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1?

    • Liz says

      Not yet. I hope to get back to work this year and will think about more GT lessons. In fact, there’s a GT post going up today on this blog about writing opening lines 🙂

  132. Akshay mhatre says

    Hi Liz , thank you very much for your tips on writing.
    Could you please help with templates which can be used for writing task 1 and 2.More like a general template which can be reused with minimal changes.

    • Liz says

      You can’t cheat the IELTS exam by learning templates. You need to adapt your essay structure to the question and to the ideas you have. Visit the main writing task 2 page to learn more. Or consider one of my advanced lessons:

  133. Valerie says

    Hi Liz,

    Informal letter, ex. Get back to me as sonpon as possible, is it possible to use ASAP? Or need to avoid it?

    Thank you so much

    • We use this for writing letters. But IELTS is a language test so don’t use it. If you want someone to respond quickly then write a sentence to showcase your English language.

  134. Emmie says

    Will it greatly affect the band score if you write an informal letter instead of a semi or formal letter?

    • It will affect your score for Task Achievement which is 25% of your task 1 marks.

  135. Riad Ahmed says

    hi Liz,
    Thanks for your continues support.

    During my last exam, in the writing part 1, accidentally i wrote my full name at the end of the informal letter. Will I be penalize for this?

  136. Sagnik Datta says

    Hi Liz,
    I am preparing for my GT writing task 1. I was wondering whether I have to concentrate only on letter writing or I have to practice graph interpretation as well?

  137. Heidi says

    Hi Liz,
    In Task 1 letter, the instructions said that I don’t have to write addresses, but I noticed this instruction after I actually did write addresses in my letter and it was too late to remove. Will I lose marks for this?

    • You will be marked down a little for failing to complete part of the task but you can still do well in other areas.

  138. Ibrahim says

    Hi liz , first we want to thank you for your effort and your wonderful method to spirit your ideas .secondly,we wander if you can explain all letter types in video like you usually do?thank you in advanced

  139. Sajjad says

    Hi Liz,

    I came across a question in WT1 and I am unable to decide if it is semi-formal or informal. Please help.

    You are going to another country to study. You would like to do a part-time job while you are studying, so you want to ask a friend who lives there for some help.

    Write a letter to this friend. In your letter

    1. Give details of your study plans
    2. Explain why you want to get a part-time job.
    3. Suggest how your friend could help you find a job.

    In my opinion, it should semi-formal.

    • Lovelyn says

      This is a semi formal letter, this is because you are writing a friend. The school part and getting a job is the formal part of the letter

    • gabriel says

      I reckon it an informal letter, you’re not writing to the company or the school directly.It states…to this friend.

      • Jefferson says

        I suggest it is a semi formal letter because although you are writing to a friend, it about a serious issue you are looking to resolve . . .Thanks

        • yasmine says

          I’d say it’s an informal letter because you are asking help from your friend even if the subject is formal.

  140. Adnan Shamsi says

    Hi Liz,

    You and your blog are fabulous. Me and my wife are preparing taking help from your videos.
    I want to ask one question, in GT Writing Task 1 if my writing is bigger and I didnt conclude my letter on 2nd page then can we use the third page where Task 2 is done??? or we have to ask for another sheet after 2nd page?
    If, we can continue on 3rd page then we have to start the Task 2 from 4th Page?

    • This is a good question. I would recommend that you ask your IELTS test center a few days before your test and then confirm with them again on the day of your test. They will provide extra paper but I don’t know if that applies to just task 2 or both.

  141. Aakash Goel says

    do we get letter writing in an academic version of the IELTS test ?

  142. Dear Liz, I have taken IELTS 3 times now. Each time my aggregate has been 8.5 but my writing score has been 7, 7.5 and 7.5. I am not able to identify where am I losing marks and how to correct it. I really need 8.0 in writing. How should I go about preparing for my next attempt?

  143. Hi Liz,

    If we have to suggest/advice someone in a letter, which of the following is the best statement to use?
    1. I hope you found my letter valuable…
    2. I hope you’ve found my letter valuable…
    3. I hope you find my letter valuable…


  144. Jignesh Patel says

    Dear Madam,
    I have been joining IELTS class for 1 month. But I have faced lots of problem in letter & essay writing. In my understanding I studied in my local language(Gujarati) that’s why I am facing problem in writing. Kindly give advice to me.

  145. how important is letter for ielts exam

    • It is about 33% of your marks for the General Training writing test. Students taking Academic IELTS do not write letters.

      • Arul Rayan says

        In one of the sample informal letters that i went through i found that it was started with Hi name and ended with a name only. Is it ok if we write yours lovingly and then name?

        • We only write “Your lovingly” to someone you love deeply. It is not suitable to friends. For IELTS letters, just end with “Take care” or “Write back soon”. This is a language test so try to avoid mistakes.

  146. Hi liz

    I’m taking the ielts again this week and while reading your instructions about the task 1 of the writing section, I have a few questions:
    If i am writing an informal letter, to a friend, am i supposed to use an informal language?
    Will my band score go lower if I am using a more academic / formal language in writing an informal letter?
    Let’s say: If i write: ‘I would like to invite you for dinner at my new house’, instead of ‘why don’t you come over for dinner next friday?’

    Thanks for clearing this for me


    • If you use formal language in an informal letter, you will lose marks. Writing “I would like to invite you …” is formal. Avoid this in an informal letter in IELTS. Your task is to show the examiner that you know the difference between formal and informal styles.

      • thanks 🙂

      • sorry again but i have another question? Do i have to use contractions in an informal letter? and will my score go lower if i DON’T use contractions for an informal letter?
        Thanks for your help Liz.

        • Yes, you should use contractions in an informal letters because that is the right style to use. Avoiding them will not help.

  147. Ahmed Zein says

    Hi liz,
    you said before that is the question says, Start with Dear …….. , this means that i should invest a name however in other sites I see them saying Dear Sir/ Madam
    I am very confused .

    • This page shows that you start Dear Sir/ Madam when you don’t know who you are writing to and you start Dear …. (a name) when you know the person. The difference is between formal and informal letters.

  148. parvinder says

    In order to write a letter to your boss regarding anything. Shall we consider this as a semiformal letter (since we know him/her well)? or consider as a formal letter? Becuase in both cases salutation and signing off will be different.Please reply asap.

  149. Nono JB says

    Hi Liz ,
    Greetings to you from the little nation of Vanuatu , in the south Pacific.

    Last week I have Just made up my mind to sit this very important IELTS exam , and targeting the General Training exam.

    This is fourth day revision, and I have chosen to use your videos and other resources for my exam preparation. Excellent tips & advice you have provided for us students and they really give me courage & confidence to sit the IELTS Examination this Thursday 3rd November 2016.

    May our Lord will reward you great blessings.
    Thank you very Much.

    • Good luck!! The GT exam is easier than the academic exam but your listening and speaking will still be the same 🙂

  150. Isu Gamma says

    Hi Liz,
    Could you please tell me writing a letter to the owner of an apartment for requesting the same apartment for rent in this vacation and ask from him/her to do some repairs that have been noticed in last year would be semi-formal or formal letter?

    Thank you

    • This is definitely a formal letter.

      • Hi Liz, why can’t we write it as semi formal as we know the owner already.

        • Just because you have rented an apartment from him, doesn’t mean you know him personally. Renting is done under a formal contract. If you have met the landlord many times and know him well, it can be semi-formal but the instructions do not indicate that.

  151. Hi Liz,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful website which is really helpful not only for me but also, I believe, for all the IELTS test takers.

    I would be grateful if you could explain the difference between Madam and Madame, and which one is the best for formal letter.

    Another thing I would like to know that is the below sentence correct which you mentioned in tips no.7?
    It’d be great if you came in August.

    I think there is a typing mistake and correct sentence should be-
    It’d be great if you come in August.


  152. Hello Liz,

    Thank you for your terrific tips! I’m taking the GT in few weeks and I have a question about the greeting for a familiar letter. For the IELTS standards, would be considered wrong to write “Hi John…” for a friend instead of “Dear John…”? or “Hello + name” for a semi-formal situation, as to write to your building manager? I rarely use “Dear” unless is a very formal situation, for instance, a complaint letter to the local council. I was told Dear it’s a bit old-fashioned these days.

  153. Vishav Singh says

    Hello Liz
    I need to ask you one thing that, should we use title with own name.. when signing off a letter.

    Such as:

    Dear Sir
    Yours faithfully
    Mr. Vishav

    I have listen somewhere in my working life that we can’t give title with own name when writing to someone else.

    what do you say ?


    • If you want to use a title, also add your first name, for example Mr Singh Vishav. And only do this with formal letters.

  154. Hi liz
    Today was my general module paper in jalandhar ,india
    Writing task one was
    You have purchased a ticket of music concert but you cant attend the event.write a letter to your friend to offer him the ticket.
    1.explain the details of event
    2.why you can not attend the music concert
    3.suggest your friend that how he can get the ticket from you.
    Writing task 2
    In some part of globe,amount of garbage is increasing a problem.what are the causes of it,what is the solution of it.give relevant example for this problem.
    Reading topic
    Section one
    Advertisement on club membership
    Section two
    Topic on cover letter
    Fill up
    Section three
    Australian mines
    Only four true false/notgiven questiones.mostly
    Listening test
    Today’s listening was fast. 7 question were reated map. Multiple choise question. Last section was easy

  155. Nice blog. Thanks Liz, you rock!!!

  156. Abiodun Laleye says

    Hi Liz. Thanks a lot for the tips. They’ve been most informative for me. Very useful indeed.


  158. Matas Milukas says

    In part 4. Letters Openings, section B, I think that there is a typo. (

    You have written “It’s mt birthday” but I think that you actually wanted to write “It’s my birthday”. (Otherwise, correct me if I am wrong 🙂 )

    By the way, great website!

  159. Thi Cao says

    Dear Liz,

    Thanks for your blog. It was helped me a lot. But I still have one question. It will be glad if you can answer. For the begining, I didnt know much about the IELTS test so I came into a class and the teacher taught me about IELTS for academic test. But after I took advice from my friend, he said I should test in Gerenal Training. So, where do I begin? Should I find another class or practice by myself?

    Once again. Thanks for your blog.

  160. Dear Liz

    Thanks for yr blog it is helping us alot.
    I want to know is letter to a neighbor is semi-formal? If yes, it means we can use contractiions. Right?

    • A letter to a neighbour can be informal or semi formal depending on how well you know your neighbour and the topic. Yes, you can use contractions.

  161. purni says

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for your wonderful blog.
    i have one question.
    In personal or semi-formal letter can i use formal vocabulary, like for example… I am writing instead of I’m writing

    Thank you,

    • In personal letters, you can use contractions. In semi formal letters it depends how well you know the person and what the letter is about – ie work or leisure.

  162. Tony Joseph says

    Hi Liz,
    I already have a patterned mind set on the steps for letter writing paragraphing:
    Introduction (making an emphatic statement on my intention), ‘Firstly’ (for second paragraph), ‘Also’ (in my third paragraph), ‘Finally’ (in the fourth paragraph) and ‘In conclusion’ (in the fifth and last paragraph- summarizing the letter with an overall opinionated statement).
    Hope I’m on course with this?


  163. Hi Liz,

    This is just a quick question regarding indentation. Is indenting no longer required in writing letters and essays? Thank you.

    Best regards,

    • It is no longer required. It’s best to leave one empty line between paragraphs as it is clearer for the examiner.

      • Hi Liz,

        Thank you very much for the prompt reply. Have a great day ahead.


  164. Hi Liz,

    I went through the guidance on Writing Task 1. I have attended IELTS examination twice last year and scored 8 for L/S/R but for writing my score is 7. I want to improve my writing skills especially on essay writing. It would be helpful if you can provide me the required guidance on the ways to improve my self on formation of Essays.


  165. Karan says

    Hi Liz,

    What if I end my letter without writing yours sincerely and a name. How would it impact on the overall band score.

    • Liz says

      It will affect the score for Task Achievement.

      • Karan says

        It eventually did impact. I scored 6 in writing.

        Also can you please advise if we can write date at the end of letter. Further, is it necessary to put commas after the title and sign off?

        • You don’t need dates with your letter and you don’t need commas after the title of signing off.

          • Karan says

            Thanks again.
            Is there a penalty to write location in the body section of a letter. Or is it just the signoff where one must not mention any address?

    • Sunil says

      It will definitely have an impact- as you state- on your writing. A great tennis player serves his last serve of the match with the same velocity as his first one. So, your last sentence or words should be as appropriate as your fist ones.

  166. Jalik says

    hello! what about tense forms in GT letter writing? I mean using Past Simple Tense instead of Present Perfect Tense. Is it correct or not?

    • Sunil says

      How can you bring mathematical formulas in writing a language. Different situations require different responses and the formation of the tenses will depend on that. Just try and keep things simple and to the point and get your views acrross.

  167. parvinder says

    Hi Liz.

    First of all, i would like to thank you for videos and articles which are very informative.
    I have attempted IELTS twice.I scored around 8 band in L/S/R but unfortunately i couldn’t score 7 in writing.In first attempt i thought it could be spelling mistakes or poor hand writing as i am more into typing rather writing.In second attempt i religiously followed your tips proper paragraph structure and salutations,i also took extra care of legibility of writing and spelling mistake but i again scored 6.5.
    Could you please suggest what approach shall i choose to score 7.5 in writing.I believe there is certainly something wrong (very basic) which i am missing to correct again and again.

    I was wondering if you could please assess my writing or provide me online coaching.
    I believe if i prepare for 8 band i will surely make it to Band 7 at least.



    • See my advanced writing task 2 lessons which explain in great depth the techniques needed for a high score:
      All the best

      • kadian says

        Dear Ms Liz,
        I am a beneficiar from your IELTS material. However, I have a request and admiration to share.
        Please share IELTS Letter (GT) model answers. The link provided does not lead to any source, rather leads to an error page.
        I wonder if you have a pen name by Monica sorrenson whose teaching methodolgy is quite similiar to yours. Nevertheless, please accept my expression of gratitude for sharing such useful information.
        Yours sincerely, Mr Kadian

        • I’ve just up-dated the links. Try again and see if they work. No, that isn’t my pen name 🙂

          • Jaismeen says

            Hello Mam,
            Please also post model answers for each kind of lettter as you have posted for academic writings. That are explained thoroughly and I need help in general writing task 1

    • Sunil says

      Content, your problem is that you are, perhaps, moving away from the core of the topic and meandering here and there.Remember, upto Band 6 or 6.5, the grammatical accuracies are more important but as you move upward, the content of your writing as conjoined with the topic given, becomes extremely important. Paragraphing and understanding the basic principles underlying the effects of the ideas generated through paragraphs and their appropriateness becomes the important issue, at this juncture of Band 7 and beyond.

  168. Hi Liz,
    Good day! Can I have a copy of IELTS letter writing?


  169. Hi Liz,
    Good day!
    Can i have a copy of IELTS letter writing?

  170. Hi Liz,
    Are contractions mandatory in semiformal letter just like informal case ?


  171. Dukhail says

    Hi liz
    I want ask about if there is difference between sincerely and faithfully?
    Thank you

  172. Dukhail says

    What is the character for each of them (formal, informal and semi-formal)?

  173. Dukhail says

    Hi liz
    How can I know the differenc between formal, informal, semi-formal and personal?

    • There are only three kinds as stated above. you will know when you read the instructions if it is to someone you know well, you know a little or someone you don’t know.

  174. Dear Liz,

    I will be taking my IELTS exam this saturday in Malaysia. I am terrified…

    Anyway, I would like to ask you for some advice. As for IELTS, we do not need to include the person’s address and our own address in a formal letter? Or it depends fully on the question? Please advise.

    Thank you.

    • You never write an address at the top of your letter. If the instructions ask you to give your address, then you put it in a sentence in a body paragraph. For example, “I am writing to complain about the noise on my street. I currently live at 54 South Street.” You can see it is not a full address, just the details that are relevant to the letter.

  175. Hi Liz,
    I am thankful to you that you provide such a great platform where we can practice and enhance our skills for IELTS. I am preparing for General Ielts and i want to know about different types of Letters that you have shared , But i didn’t find mode answers of all , I want to ask where can i get model answers of that or can you suggest some students with whom we can share our letter writing that you shared for practice as you dont have time to check and mark our letters,
    Thanks and keep working for us.

  176. Hi Liz,
    It was asked to write a letter to a school teacher apologizing not to returning a book borrowed from her and explaining the reason. Is this a formal or informal letter?
    Thanks in advance

    • This is a semi-formal letter. You need to put the name of the teacher instead of using “sir”. This means the content is formal but as you know your teacher quite well it is more relaxed in style.

  177. Hello Liz

    wish you are doing very well,

    Actually this is my first participation ,and I have one question please.

    when I am sending a letter formal or personal , Can i use one of these phrases ,for example :

    Dear Liz,

    1- trust your are doing very well
    2- I wish my letter find you very well

    and then complete the rest of letter

    • Both have incorrect grammar. Also you need to adapt your letter depending on the instructions and aims.
      All the best

  178. R Radhakrishnan says

    Hi Liz,

    Good day to you. I need your expert advise and a clarification on GT writing task 1 – Letters;
    I came across a question, where they have requested to write a letter to friend and invite him to a party and to provide the Date and the Venue;
    However the instructions part of the question states no need to mention addresses; in this scenario, do i have to provide the address of the party in my body of the letter or should I not mention it.
    I am aware, that not following the instructions will result in less marks allotted to me and would be grateful if you could clarify this and provide a suitable solution for this scenario.
    Awaiting your earliest response.
    R. Radhakrishnan.

    • The instructions tell you that you don’t need to write a full address which is normally written in the top corner of any letter before the start of the letter. The date and venue which you need to write in your letter is not a full address (there is no need for the postcode or even city). You can just write the name of the place and the street with a number. And that information is written inside the body of the letter.
      All the best

  179. Hi Liz,
    Do I always have to start the letter with” Dear….” ?
    I mean, if it is a formal letter and I don’t know the name of the person, can I start with something like”To the mamagement of….”
    Or it is better to keep it simple and start with ” Dear …” in all types of letters?

    Thanks in advance

  180. Hi Liz,
    I appeared for general training IELTS test on 29th Sepetember,2015.
    I have a doubt regarding letter writing.
    One of the instructions say:
    You do NOT need write any address.
    But in the introduction i mentioned the address as follows:

    Dear Mathew Hogward

    I am Scarlette Jonathan, recently shifted to your South East road aparrment number SJ001C.

    Does this affect my band score in task 1?
    Does this make my task 1 neglected?

    I covered all the points in my letter and i am sure there were no spelling, punctuation and
    grammar miskates.
    ButI got only 6 bands in writing module.
    My essay was also well structured.
    I would be grateful if you could post a reply to my query!

    Your lessons are a great help!
    Thank you Liz!

    • If the task requires you to write about your accommodation, it is fine to put the street and number inside the letter – in fact it is necessary. What the instructions mean is that you don’t need to write your address in the top left corner of the paper before starting the letter.
      All the best

  181. Zainub Bahar says

    Dear Liz,

    Writing task 1 of GT Pakistan 29th August, 2015:
    You recently moved to an apartment where you are facing a some of problems, write a letter to owner to inform him and suggest solution.

    Explain the apartment is very good
    describe your problem
    suggest a solution




    Thanking in anticipation for your reply.

    • This is a formal letter. The landlord is not your friend and the situation is serious. Any complaint letter is formal. Well done avoiding contractions. You put your name at the end of the letter and the landlord’s name after “Dear..” at the start of the letter.
      All the best

  182. Hi Liz,


    Wonderful tips…as i m a ielts trainer ur tips r very handy. I have been going thrugh ur blog gor the first time. I just went through ur tips for letter writing. They seem to be very benificial. I would be delighted to have a few more tips and sample answers on my mail.

    Yours sincerely,

    • I’m glad the lesson was useful, Rani. I’ll post more model letters at some point but I can’t say exactly when.
      All the best

  183. Dhruba Baral says

    Dear Liz,
    I am looking forward to appearing the ielts test for the first time. I´m sort of an aspirant who has no excess to preparation classes but has an ex excess to the internet. Is it enough? Or should I get enrolled to such classes mandatorily? Is it compulsory to go through the books prescribed or the online courses are enough?
    Expecting a genuine suggestion,

    • I will be very direct. If there is a chance of professional IELTS training then of course it is worth it. But not many schools are good – you need to select carefully. However, training in IELTS is not enough. You must have the right level of English to match your score. For example, in the message above, you have used incorrect vocabulary “excess” (you mean access), “get enrolled” (should be just enroll), prescribed (recommended) – and there are more mistakes still. This means you will struggle to get over band 6 due to your frequent errors. So, work on your level of English until you can produce accurate language suitable for the band score you want. When your English is stronger, learn IELTS skills in any way possible.

  184. hassan says

    Hi there,
    In this capitalistic world where everyone has a price and nothing is free,your website is nothing less then a blessing!!
    Am planing to take IELTS G.T actually thinking for the past 1 year but never appeared (phobia i gueess).I think my English is not up to the mark.I need 7 band in all areas for my Immigration.My grammar and writing the worst.As far as speaking is concerned I stammer and it just shatters my confidence.Its terrible when you want say but you cant say it and i stuck at crucial time.
    I need some suggestions what you think how much time I need to get 7 band?? especially in writing and speaking.I can write on some issues like taboo issues,music,sprituality but strangely i cant write a letter or essay.

    Sorry for being so long but as i read you blog i came to know you are a humble person so i hope you wouldnot mind..

    As hope is a good thing I hope you will reply to my boring and long letter/essay whatever you call it.Thanks

    • You seem to have a good level of English with the odd error which means you have the potential for around 7. If your stammer is part of your natural way of speaking, then it shouldn’t affect your score. But if it is due to nerves, then you will need to find a way to tackle it. One way is to develop so many ideas and answers for questions, that you will feel confident when the examiner asks a question. Of course, you can’t predict all questions but you can predict a range of common topics and you can practice all the common questions – have a technique of expanding each type of question. For part 2, you will need to have a particularly strong technique.

      For writing, the key will be not only ideas, but also structure, linking devices and knowing what the instructions require of you and how to present your answer. Take a look at my model essays. Look through all my free posts and videos in each of the main sections for tips, common questions, model answers etc.

      How long will it take? You will have a better idea how long you need to prepare once you see the topics you must prepare for and the types of questions.
      All the best

  185. Feruza says

    Thanks Liz.
    Very helpful and useful tips.
    Please, give the explanation on difference between “Sincerely” and “Faithfully”. In what style can we use them and how?

    • I’ve just added the explanation to the essential tips – take a look.
      All the best

  186. Manjush says

    Hi Liz.
    Your all sessions are excellent and very helpful to al IELTS students.


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