IELTS Letter Writing Tips

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IELTS Writing - OverviewThe IELTS Academic and General Writing Modules are similar in some ways and different in others. Whichever test you do, you have one hour to complete two tasks. It is the nature of the tasks that makes them different. You can see this clearly in the chart below:

General Task 1 Minimum 150 words

Academic Minimum 150 words

Writing a letter in response Interpreting, describing, or to a situation informal, comparing information semi-formal, or formal presented in graphic form - a diagram, bar chart, line graph, pie chart or table Task 2 Minimum 250 words Writing a more personal essay possible informal style Minimum 250 words Writing an essay on general academic topic formal style a

In both cases, your score is based on three fundamental criteria:

y y y

Content: How well do you r present your arguments, ideas and evidence? Quality: How effectively are you able to communicate your ideas and thoughts? Technical Aspects: How correct is your grammar? How rich is your vocabulary? How varied are your sentences?

To complete an organized, coherent piece of writing, you need to take 2-5 minutes to plan. During this time, you can consider what position you will adopt, how you're going to expand on the topic and in what order you will present your ideas. You should skip the planning activity only if you have very little time left. In such a case, you can work directly on the task itself. Of course, grammar and vocabulary will also be assessed. Make sure you check your writing for verb tense agreement, prepositions, word order, sentence patterns, sentence structure, and range of vocabulary. Avoid using the same verbs, nouns, or adjectives more than once. Do not use slang at all. In the academic section of the IELTS, avoid contractions, which are a clear symbol of informal writing.

IELTS General WritingThe IELTS General Writing section measures your ability to communicate about common, practical issues and expand on topics of personal interest. You may be asked to provide factual information, make suggestions, express likes and dislikes, or present complaints, opinions, or views. This section lasts for 1 hour and includes 2 tasks. Task 2 carries more marks than Task 1. Therefore, you may wish to divide your time as follows:

IELTS_LETTER WRITING

Page 1

y y

Task 1 150 words 20 minutes Task 2 250 words 40 minutes

According to the makers of the IELTS exam, assessment of General Writing tasks is based on the following criteria:

y y y y

Task Achievement - how thoroughly you do what is asked Coherence and Cohesion - how organized your letter is Lexical Resource - the range of vocabulary you use Grammatical Range and Accuracy - how correct your grammar is

IELTS GENERAL WRITING - TASK 1

You are asked to write a letter to a friend, government agency or interest group. The level of formality depends on who you are writing to and how well you know them, so the style may be formal, semi-formal or informal. You are given a brief description of a problem or situation, followed by bulleted instructions on what to include in your letter. Make sure you write about each and every one of the points mentioned. Also use appropriate grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. It will also help to read through several sample tests in order to both familiarize yourself with the type of situations presented, and to learn how to write these types of letter answers easily, correctly, and quickly. Sample Task 1 tasks include:

y y y

writing to a college administration officer about problems with your dormitory writing to a landlord to resolve problems with the heating system writing to a friend to invite him/her to a surprise party

IELTS GENERAL WRITING TASK 2 You have to write a minimum 250-word essay on a topic of general interest. You might have to solve a problem, present your opinion, or compare differing viewpoints on a given topic. The usual rules of good essay writing apply. Plan before you write, use varied sentence structure, utilize linking words to connect ideas, use dynamic and rich vocabulary to put your thoughts across, be careful of your spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, and organize your essay into about 4-5 paragraphs. A sample structure is shown below:

Paragraph 1

Introduction

Restate position

the

topic,

indicate

your

Paragraph 2 Paragraph 3 Paragraph 4

Body Body Conclusion

Main idea, supporting idea, examples Main idea, supporting idea, examples Summarize ideas, restate position

Sample Task 2 tasks include:

IELTS_LETTER WRITING

Page 2

y y y y

whether whether whether whether

it is possible to take a vacation from your problems families today are closer than they used to be. smoking in public should be banned old people should go to nursing homes

Write as many practice essays as possible, within the 40-minute time limit, so you can do so with ease and confidence on the day of your exam.

IELTS Letter Writing Tips 10 Ways to Get Higher Marks on the IELTS Letter Writing Task1. Identify the type of letter you are being asked to write. Is it a formal, semi-formal or informal letter? The entire tone of your letter is based on your answer to this question. Adjust your style and choice of words according to the type of letter you have been asked to write. 2. Open and close the letter correctly. Remember that each type of letter requires a different opening and closing. The chart below will help you remember this:

Style

Characteristics Opening To someone you have not met, whose name you don't know To someone you may or may not have met, whose last name you know & use To someone you know well, whose first name you know and use

Ending

Formal

Dear Sir / Madam

Yours faithfully

Semiformal

Dear Mr Brown, Dear Ms Stone

Yours sincerely

Informal

Dear John Dear Anita

Best regards Warm wishes

3. Open a formal and semi-formal letter with a formal sentence. Don't try to be friendly, as you do not know the person you are writing to. Get right down to business and indicate the reason you are writing, as shown below: Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to inquire about / I am writing in connection with...

IELTS_LETTER WRITING

Page 3

Dear Mr Jones,

I am writing to inform you ... / I am writing in connection with... 4. Open an informal letter with a general, friendly paragraph. With friends whom we know, we care about the whole person. We have a broader relationship in the context of which this communication is taking place. So it is best to acknowledge that friendship first, before getting down to the reason for your letter. In fact, the first paragraph could be purely friendly small talk, unrelated to the reason for your writing. Look at the example below: Dear Jane I hope you and your family are all well. It was such a pleasure to see you again last summer. We sure had a great time catching up with each other after so many years. You have always been a cherished friend, no matter how much of a gap there has been since we met. Anyway, the reason I'm writing is that I have some good news - I am getting married this summer... 5. Identify the main purpose of the letter. Are you asking for help, apologizing, inviting someone, complaining or thanking someone? Learn appropriate and polite expressions that will support what you need to say. 6. Learn and use standard written phrases. Students sometimes struggle to finish their writing in time. This happens when you are trying to write every sentence from scratch. The fact is, in conventional letter writing in English, we use a number of standard expressions and phrases and add on to them the specific information we wish to communicate. By learning how to use these expressions, you will find the letter writing task much easier and will never have to fight for time. 7. Make sure you write at least 150 words. Practice writing letters till you know what 150 words feels like and looks like. You will lose marks if you write less. You will not lose marks if you write more; the only restriction on writing more is in terms of time, not the number of words. 8. Learn the correct spelling of commonly used words. It is surprising how many IELTS students make a mistake when spelling words such as "sincerely", "faithfully", "in connection with" and so on. You can prevent yourself from losing marks by learning the correct spelling of these words and expressions which you are highly likely to use on your exam. 9. Stay on topic. In order to complete your letter within 20 minutes or less, practice writing letters where you stick to the point. The General IELTS Task 1 does require you to make up a bit of a story to complete your letter, but don't make your story so complicated that you run out of time. 10. Include all three bulleted points. If you exclude even one of the points given to you in the question prompt, you will lose valuable marks. Practice writing letters that include the three points and go back and check that you have included them in each practice exercise you do.

IELTS Letter Writing - Useful Words & Expressions

IELTS_LETTER WRITING

Page 4

To complete your IELTS letter writing task within 20 minutes, it is helpful to know some common phrases and set expressions. Being able to use these will allow you to express your ideas quickly and effectively, without thinking about each and every word. While you're learning their meaning, also make sure you can spell them perfectly. Finally, try the quiz at the bottom of the page to see how well you know these important expression. Apologizing I'm sorry about...

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