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5 Step letter writing

writing task 1 general ielts megaWhen IELTS examiners look at a Task 1 piece of writing, they have 3 basic questions in mind:

  • Does the letter do what the question asks? Or, is the content (the ideas and information) appropriate to the task?
  • Is the letter written in a well-organized and logical way?
  • Are the language and the tone of the letter accurate and correct?

Many candidates get lower band scores in the test because the content and the organization of their writing are not good enough. It is important that you follow these steps when answering a Task 1 question. The following steps have been demonstrated for you to write your first letters with more confidence.

 

Sample Question:

The course director of your previous college has invited you to attend a party for new students, and he has also asked you to give a talk about studying overseas. You have an important examination on the same day so you cannot attend the party.

Write a letter to the director to apologize and to explain why you cannot attend the event. Suggest another date when you could give your talk.

How to Answer

Step 1, Analyzing the Question 

What is the topic?

Find it out by underlining the key words in the question.

The course director of your previous college has invited you to attend a party for new students, and he has also asked you to give a talk about studying overseas. You have an important examination on the same day so you cannot attend the party.

You have been invited to go to a party and give a talk, but you cannot go to the party.

To whom am I writing?

The letter is to the course director of your old college. Although you know him, it is unlikely that you know him very well. The style of the letter should in this instance be formal.

 

What is your purpose in writing the letter?

Write a letter to the director to apologize and to explain why you cannot attend the event. Suggest another date when you could give your talk.

You can see that you are given three things to do:

1.Apologize (for not being able to attend)

  1. Explain (why you cannot attend)
  2. Suggest (another date)

Step 2, Make Notes of Ideas

Make a brief note of and ideas which you may like to use in your answer. Look at the questions or the bullet points which you need to answer and budget your time accordingly. In the following box, a student has written some notes.

On the right side, you will find an explanation of what these notes mean.

Step 3, Make a Plan

Decide which of these ideas you will definitely use in your letter. Then organize them. Do you remember our notes in Step 2? Now, in the box below, you can see a sample plan which is based on our ideas and our notes. Each black bullet point represents a separate paragraph. Notice that not all of the ideas have been used.

  • Thanks, sorry
  • Imp. Exam, Date fixed
  • Can come, My tel.
  • All well there? Hope success

 

 

Step 4 , Write the letter

When you have a map of what you are going to write, stick to it. Don’t go off the track. Don’t add new ideas even if they seem better choices to you. By following your map, you will reduce the risk of making new mistakes. Just concentrate on what you mean and try to choose the best grammatical structures as well as careful choices of vocabulary items to best express your ideas and prove your language ability.

Now look at the sample answer below:

Dear Mr. Loyds,

Thank you for your kind invitation to attend the party for new students on the 29th of January. Thank you  also for thinking of me to give a talk. However, unfortunately I am unable to attend the party.

I am afraid that on the following day, I have my first semester economics exam. This is a complicated subject and a good mark is essential for me, so I have to spend the day before studying. I asked my lecturer if it would be possible to take the examination on another date, but this is not permitted.

However, I would be very happy to give the talk on another day. I am available on the 5th and the 6th of February. If one of those dates is convenient for you, please let me know. I can be contacted at the address above or fax or telephone.

I hope that everyone at the college is well, and I hope that your party is a great success. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Amy Sanilar

(178 words)

 

Step 5, Check your Mistakes

It is best to make sure you leave a couple of minutes to check your work. Try to set between three to five minutes aside looking for and checking your own personal common mistakes. Many students get lower marks specially when the topics seems easy to them, which is mainly because since they do not worry about to say, they do not pay enough attention to correct grammar and they repeat their fossilized mistakes or errors.

 

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