Best IELTS Writing General Task 1 Structure

In this tutorial you will learn:

·       How to build the structure of your IELTS General Writing Task 1 answer.

This will help you in your IELTS General Writing exam because:

·       You will learn the main elements that you should build into your GT Writing Task 1 answer.

·       You will learn invaluable tips that work with all the types of IELTS General Writing Task 1 questions to help you in the IELTS Exam.

General Training Writing Task 1, which is always a letter writing task, is often perceived easier than its Academic counterpart. Yet, GT Task 1has its own intricacies requiring preparation.

In this tutorial you will learn to structure and elaborate all the types of letters in a fast and efficient manner.

First, here are the features of General Training Writing Task 1.

You should spend no longer than 20 minutes and it accounts for about 30% of your entire writing score.

In GT Writing Task 1 you will always be asked to write one type of letter. It may be one of the following types: informal, neutral/formal or formal.

Here are examples of each letter type question.
Letter typeWho are you writing to?Sample purpose types
Informal letter

A person that you know very well.

You can and will call them by their first name.

Thanking a friend or a colleague

Providing information to a friend/family member/colleague

Inviting a friend for a summer holiday

Asking for advice from a family member/friend

Neutral/formal letter

A person that you may or may not know so well.

You might have met them once.

You will use their last name to address them politely.

Making a request to return an item to a neighbour

Complaining to the landlord about mouse infestation

Making a suggestion to a superior manager regarding work

Formal letterA person that you have never met, and you do not know their name.

Complaining about poor quality of service/product to a store/airline/bank/restaurant

Providing apology and explanation for absence from college

Applying for a job


Whether you write a formal, neutral/formal or informal letter, you should structure it clearly and efficiently, so the purpose (advising, apologizing, complaining, requesting, etc.) is easily perceivable.

The universal letter structure consists of these compulsory parts.

·       Opening with a salutation (saying hello) part.

·       Introduction: purpose of writing

·       1 body paragraphs that will explain the situation or outline the problem

·       1 body paragraph that will offer the solution, or suggest desirable action.

·       Concluding sentence

·       Closing with a farewell (saying goodbye) part.

·       Signature (is OPTIONAL!)


Important: clearly signal the beginning of a new paragraph in one of the following ways:

Leaving an indent: this means writing at about 3-4 centimetres to the right of the left margin.

Skipping a line: this is leaving an entire line space between 2 paragraphs, and start the new paragraph with a small indent.

Let’s outline the GT Task 1 letter in more detail.



The salutation is ALWAYS placed on the first line, with a comma after it.

Here are recommended salutations based on the formality of the letter.

 Informal letterNeutral/formal letterFormal letter

Dear Luca,

Dear Abby,

Dear Mr Romano,

Dear Ms Weaver,

Dear Sir/Madam,


Important: DON’T WRITE ANYTHING AFTER the salutation. Start the introduction on a new line.

Remember, salutations should maintain register across letter types to avoid inaccuracies and impoliteness which leads to a loss in points.



Neutral and Formal letters

After the greeting, (Dear Mr Romano/Dear Sir or Madam,) state the purpose. Be serious and professional, not warm and friendly. You do not know the reader.

Formal letterNeutral/Formal letter

Dear Sir/Madam, 

I am writing to inquire about…

I am writing to express my concern about…

Dear Ms Weaver, 

I am writing to thank you for…

I am writing to inform you that…


Informal letters

Open informal letters with a warm and friendly style, acknowledge your friendship then explain the reason for your letter. The first paragraph could even include just friendly small talk, not very related to the reason for your writing. See the example below. 

Dear Luca,

     I hope you, Abby and Joe are all well! It was so wonderful to spend time with all of you in Chicago last month. It felt great to catch up with you, get to know your little champ, and have fun together after so long. You have always been so dear to me, and always will be.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing is that I have some good news: I am getting married in July and I’d love to invite you all.

All the best,




Divide your letter into paragraphs. If you bunch up everything in one paragraph, you will lose marks.

The structure will directly depend on the elements of the task. Use this structure:



·       1 body paragraph - explain the situation or outline the problem

·       1 body paragraph - offer the solution or suggest desirable action

You must cover all three bullet points from the task. If you omit even one of the points in the prompt, you will get a lower mark, as it will negatively affect Task Achievement.

Let’s see how body paragraph planning was done in sample outlines for three GT Writing Task 1 letter questions below.


·       1 body paragraph - explain the situation or outline the problem


·       1 body paragraph - offer the solution or suggest desirable action


You must cover all three bullet points from the task. If you omit even one of the points in the prompt, you will get a lower mark, as it will negatively affect Task Achievement.


Let’s see how body paragraph planning was done in sample outlines for three GT Writing Task 1 letter questions below.


Informal letterNeutral/formal letterFormal letter

A friend is considering buying a house nearby, but you have decided to leave the area due to a rise in crime.

Write a letter to your friend advising them not to move into the neighbourhood.

In your letter:

– Recommend that your friend not go ahead with the purchase

– Give the reasons behind your decision to leave

– Suggest possible alternative areas that you know.

You have recently attended a professional course.

Write a letter to your manager to thank him/her for the opportunity.

In your letter, you should tell:– What was it about?

– Explain why it was helpful to you.

– Suggest other co-workers who should attend the course.

You ordered an item from an online store and it has arrived damaged.

Write a letter to the retailer to complain.

In the letter:

– Explain why you are unhappy

– Request a refund

– Make arrangements to return the damaged item.


Body Paragraph 1:

Body Paragraph 1:Body Paragraph 1:

- recommend not purchasing the house in your neighbourhood (name the location)

- give two convincing reasons for this:

(1) 3 neighbours’ houses got broken into;

(2) the house at the end of street is a drug dealer den.

- describe the course you had taken (teaching English for Professions online)

- course was useful for 2 reasons:

(1) I learned approaches and methods to teach English to doctors, managers, environmentalists and programmers,

(2) I learned how to build an online course.

- I’m upset because I ordered an Amazon Echo Show 5 device (with Alexa virtual assistant) but it

(1) stopped working with Spotify after a month of use,

(2) it started to fail to recognize all the voices in my family.

- I’d like to request a full refund ($89.99) because it’s still under warranty.



Body Paragraph 2:

Body Paragraph 2:Body Paragraph 2:

- suggest another 2 neighbourhoods and reasons for choosing them:

Aylmer (national park nearby) or Orleans (cheap real estate, great shopping centers).

- who else should attend?

Alex Lopez, because she can use her her previous interpreter experience (medicine, business, environment) and become a great teacher for professionals in these areas and so far, our school has only 1 teacher for professionals

- How can I return it:

I can ship it to the Amazon seller via Canada Post if they send me the return slip with shipping information.



Any type of letter will look more natural and complete if you place a summarising sentence between the second body paragraph and the farewell phrase.

The purpose of this sentence is to wrap up the entire letter in a short summary and give it a feeling of closure and logical ending.

Here are some samples:

Informal letterNeutral/formal letterFormal letter

Thanks again for the trust you showed in my opinion regarding buying real estate in the capital.

Now, I’ll be really looking forward to hearing from you about your final decision.

I would like to thank you once again for choosing me for this step of professional development.

I will be looking forward to finding out who you chose to attend this valuable course.

I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement regarding my case.

I will be looking forward to a reply from you regarding the refund and shipping details.


FAREWELL (and signature – optional!)

The farewell is ALWAYS the very last line of any letter type. Use a comma after it.

If you choose to use a signature, DO NOT use a period/full stop after it.

Here are recommended farewells and signature based on the formality of the letter.

Note that ONLY the informal letter can be signed with only your FIRST name.

In the neutral/formal and formal letter BOTH FIRST AND LAST NAMES are compulsory.

 Informal letterNeutral/formal letterFormal letter
Ending/farewell formula

All the best,

Warm wishes,

Hugs, (for family members)

Yours sincerely,Yours faithfully,
SignatureJohnJohn CarterJohn Carter


Important: DON’T WRITE ANYTHING AFTER the farewell, except your signature, if you choose to use one. You will write your signature from the next, new line.

Remember, just as salutations, farewells cannot be swapped from one letter type to another because it will result in style inaccuracy and lack of politeness, also detracting from your Writing score.

We hope that this complete overview of how to approach the structure of General Training Writing Task 1 letters will help you organize your writing better and reduce your planning and writing times!

Here a some helpful general task 1 sample essays to help you prepare for the exam.

If you need to improve quickly for band 7, try our IELTS essay correction service.

  You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript | [powerpress]