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IELTS Formal Letter Samples & Practice Questions

Updated on 07 June, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

IELTS Formal Letter Samples & Practice Questions

If you think just using synonyms can help you score well in IELTS Writing, you are sadly mistaken! While vocabulary is an important assessment criterion for IELTS Writing, only replacing words with fancier synonyms will be of no help. To improve your band score, you must also understand the use of language, organize your ideas, and use an apt tone. Read on to know more and get tips on the IELTS Writing section, especially focused on the letter writing part.

The IELTS writing section measures the writing prowess of the applicants. There are two tasks in this section. Task one involves writing a letter or report based on the mentioned situation or problem. It is recommended to complete this task within 20 minutes and write 150 words. The second task comprises essay writing of at least 250 words and should be completed within 40 minutes. 

Candidates should also remember that there is a negative assessment for irrelevant responses. If your writing is plagiarized, off-topic, or not connecting per the instructions, you will be penalized for the same. Hence, understanding and acing the writing section is vital for achieving a high IELTS band score.

Different Types of Letters in IELTS  

Letters that are asked can be of three types: formal, semi-formal, and informal. It is important to maintain the tone and structure of a letter based on the type given. Let us understand what each letter type means.

  • Formal letter: It is a letter you write to someone you do not know. It uses simple but professional language. For example, a letter to an employment agency or a company complaining about their product.
  • Semi-formal letter: A Semi-formal letter is one that you write to people you know but not much closely or know in a formal capacity. Writing to a colleague to ask for help on a work task is an example of a semi-formal letter.
  • Informal letter: A letter written to someone you know for personal communication is informal. This letter type uses a casual or emotional tone. An example would be writing to a friend for some advice. 

In the IELTS Writing section, a situation or issue is given in the letter-writing question, and applicants must write a suitable letter in response. For example, you can be given a formal letter topic about formal requests or a job application. It may also cover complaints about airlines, banks, stores, or any service or product.<br>

 Formal essay writing is frequently asked in IELTS task 1. According to test-takers, it is the most challenging letter type. Therefore, we will try to tackle it with the help of IELTS formal letter samples.  

Difference Between Formal and Informal Letters

The main difference between a formal and informal letter is in the language and tone. The vocabulary and style used for writing each letter differ per its purpose. Although the basic informal and formal letter formats in IELTS remain the same, there is a difference in the salutation and length of the letter when attempting the two.

Let us look at the major differences between informal and formal letter writing in IELTS Writing Task 1.

Formal LettersInformal Letters
They should be relevant and objective.They are more like personal communication.
They have a professional tone.They have a conversational tone.
Use of long and complex sentences.Generally uses simple sentences.
Cannot include Contractions (She’s/Can’t/Don’t).Can include Contractions (She’s/Can’t/Don’t).
They are usually one page long.Can be of any length.
Colloquial language is not used.Colloquial language can be used.
Modals can be used (would/ could).Figures of speech (similes, metaphors, etc.) can be used. 

What is IELTS Formal Letter Writing Task 1

The IELTS Formal Letter Writing Task 1 requires the test takers to write a letter on a given theme (generally associated with everyday situations). The letter is to be written in 150 words and has to be completed in 20 minutes. 

Three bullet points are presented in the task, which outlines what is to be addressed in the letter. You must use a tone and writing style corresponding to the given topic. You should support the given situation by explaining it in your own words using your creativity. 

Per the official IELTS website, “this task assesses the ability to follow English letter-writing conventions (i.e., what order to put information in, what style to use, how to start and finish a letter), to use language accurately and appropriately and to organize and link information coherently and cohesively.”

The Task 1 responses are assessed on:

  • Task achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Basic Format for IELTS Letter Writing

The formal letter format in IELTS Writing Task 1 does not have to go the traditional way of putting addresses, dates, etc. You can write your letter in the simple 4-part structure as mentioned below:

  • Greeting
  • Body paragraphs
  • Sign-off
  • Your full name

An Important Tip to Secure a Higher Band with IELTS Writing Task 1

Write a compelling introduction.

An introduction is one of the most influential parts of your IELTS Writing Task 1 response. You can even lose marks if you skip the introduction or if it is unclear. The introduction tells the examiner what you will write and lets them understand how well you have inferred the given task. It should include the purpose of the letter and be strong enough to hook the reader. Thus, a compelling introduction can play a significant role in scoring higher in your Task Achievement for IELTS Writing Task 1.

How Can IELTS Formal Letters Help You Get a Band Score of 9

Did you know the IELTS Writing section can improve your overall score band exponentially? With the right knowledge and persistent practice, you can even score a band score of 9 on the test. For this, you must cover all features the examiners look for in a letter. Broadly, these crucial features can be categorized as –  format of the letter, purpose of the letter, tone of the letter, and incorporation of all bullet points.

  • Appropriate letter format

If you are confused about what a good IELTS letter should include, stop worrying! Our tip is to plan your letter using the ODAC formula, which highlights the four key elements of effective letter writing. These are:

  • Opening,
  • Details,
  • Action, and 
  • Closing

Incorporating all these four elements with respect to the theme of the letter can help you elevate your performance. 

  • Purpose of the letter

Ensure to clearly state the purpose of the letter in the opening paragraph of your IELTS formal letter writing response. You should directly associate it with the situation mentioned in the question and present it in a crisp, clear manner so that the reader knows exactly why you are writing the letter.

  • Tonality

It is one of the most important aspects that the examiners check. Getting it wrong can even lower your score for Task Achievement, which makes up 25% of your total mark. Hence, deciding whether to write the letter using a formal or informal tone is crucial. 

Whatever the tone is, remember to use vocabulary that matches it. For instance, avoid using formal words in an informal letter and vice versa. The following table shows some examples of formal and informal vocabulary for a better understanding:

Formal ToneInformal Tone
RequestAsk
PurchaseBuy
AssistanceHelp
AcceptableOkay
At your earliest convenienceWhen you are free
  • Presentation and detailing of bullet points

When checking the IELTS Writing response, the examiners pay special attention to if you have included the bullet points presented to you in the question. This checks your attentiveness and your ability to follow the instructions. Hence, ensuring that all bullet points are covered with relevant details is necessary to achieve a higher IELTS band for this section.

Practice Questions for IELTS Formal Letter Writing:

Below are some IELTS formal letter topics that can help you better understand what is included in the IELTS Writing Task 1. 

● While working in an international company you are asked to spend quarterly working in the head office situated in another country. Write a letter to your manager asking them not to transfer you for a particular period.

● Write a letter to an editor asking to advertise your ad on the front page of the newspaper.

● Presently you are informed that your visa has been canceled to travel internationally. Write a letter to the relevant department asking for a temporary visa so you can attend your conference without delay.

● In recent days, your company has informed you that you will be taking a lead role in the management project. Write a letter to the senior asking for guidance and to share their experience.

● A supermarket company has decided to increase its expenditure on new products. Being an advisor, you have to suggest which products to keep in the store.

● In your locality, you are facing tremendous problems with your internet connection. Write a letter to your local cable operator complaining about the scenario and requesting to take immediate action. 

● Write a letter to the chancellor asking him to approve your permission for a visa to study in a foreign country. Mention the details of the university and the choice of your course. 

● Write a letter to your boss and express your thoughts on accepting the promotion letter. You must mention the name of those people who helped achieve the work target daily. You must also mention a “Thank You” note.

● Write a letter to your insurance company complaining about the unfair insurance payment and settlement with all the ID numbers of relevant documents. Your letter must address a particular person with name and designation.

● Write a letter to your employer complaining about your pending salary and incentives for the last month.

● Write a letter to the newspaper official complaining about the bad drainage system in your neighborhood.

● You recently completed a bakery course. The baking institute has asked you to share feedback on the course and the benefits you experienced. Write a letter to the administrative officer of the institute.

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Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Formal Letter Samples:

The formal letter samples below are meant to help the test-takers with the pattern and model answers. Note the structure, pattern, vocabulary, tone, and flow of IELTS formal letter samples to make it easier to prepare and practice. 

1. The first one is a response to a letter from an insurance company about the increase in the premium price of an insurance plan

Dear Mr. ABC,

I want to notify you that I have received a letter from your end. The letter informs me that my insurance amount for my car will increase in the coming month.  But before increasing the premium cost, I request you to check my previous records once. For the past ten years, I have continued with the insurance plan from your company but have never had the chance to claim it.  At the same time, I understand that there might be various reasons behind the increase. However, the decision to increase the premium cost will result in a 30% hike in the final amount, which I pay at the end of each month. Therefore, I would request you to inform me of your reason for increasing the insurance plan amount. However, if I am unsatisfied with the reason, I would have to look for better options. I am eagerly waiting for your response.<br> 

Yours faithfully,<br>

 XYZ

2. The second letter describes the need for leaves by an employee. The letter highlights the request for approval by the employee from the manager.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am glad to inform you that my daughter has secured admission to an MBBS program at AIIMS, Delhi. At this point, I would sincerely like to request a week off, starting from 24th November 2021 to 2nd December 2021. In anticipation of my holiday, I have already completed some of my important tasks. I have also started to put together the sales projections for November month. Moreover, I also discussed my holiday with my colleagues working with me on the current project. I am also ready to discuss the reason for the holiday in detail if you need further clarification. I have mailed the necessary supporting documents from my official mail ID to the HR team. Likewise, I am looking for your approval on the same.<br> 

 Yours sincerely,<br> 

PKY (Senior Sales Manager)

Make sure that you go through the given formal letter samples for IELTS and some common topics to ensure better clarity to attempt IELTS Writing Task 1. For more information on formal letter writing, get in touch with the Study Abroad experts of upGrad Abroad.

IELTS Semi-formal Letter Sample Questions

If you are looking for semi-formal letter IELTS sample questions, go through a few examples below.

Question 1. You have been living on rent in the same apartment for the past two years. A new neighbor moved in a few weeks ago, and keeps organizing loud parties many times a week, which causes you disturbance.

Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter:

     - Explain your situation
    - Describe how it is troubling you
    - Suggest how the landlord can help to better it 

Question 2. The company you work for held an important learning event that you missed due to urgent family commitments. 

Write a letter to your manager. In your letter:

  • - Apologize for missing the event and explain its reasons.
  • - Explain why your presence was important in your family at that time.
  • - Explain how you will compensate for the lessons you missed.

Question 3. You are planning to spend a vacation in XYZ country. Your friend’s cousin who lives there has offered to let you stay in their apartment.

Write a letter to your friend’s cousin. In your letter:

  • Thank them, but politely decline the offer. 
  • Tell them about your travel dates and plans briefly.
  • - Invite them to plan a meeting and go out with you.

IELTS Letter Writing Checklist

When proofreading your letter, use this checklist to ensure you have followed all the aspects that can help you score a better IELTS band.

  1. Have you thoroughly read the instructions?
  2. Is it a formal or informal letter? 
  3. Check the overall body content. Does it follow the relevant format?
  4. Is paragraphing done correctly? Ensure your letter has clearly defined body paragraphs.
  5. Have you covered the mentioned bullet points and supported each with relevant details?
  6. Have you added a proper salutation and closing to the letter?
  7. Have you used adequate language and tone?
  8. Check Coherence. Have you built a flow and linked your ideas in a manner that is clear and easy to understand?
  9. Check for spelling and grammar errors. Check punctuation.
  10. Check if you have used a wide vocabulary.
  11. Check the word count.

Useful Language for IELTS Letter Writing

Informal Letter

  • Beginning
  1. I hope this letter finds you well . . . 
  2. I hope you enjoyed your . . . 
  3. I’m just writing to let you know that . . . 
  4. I was so pleased to hear that . . . 
  • Requests and Suggestions
  1. It would be great if you could . . . 
  2. I was wondering if you would . . . 
  3. Why don’t we . . . 
  • Ending
  1. I hope to see you soon!
  2. I look forward to catching up with you soon.
  3. Keep in touch!

Formal Letter

  • Beginning
  1. I am writing to bring to your attention . . . 
  2. I am writing to inform you of my decision to . . .  
  3. I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with a product I recently purchased from your store . . . 
  4. I am writing with regard to . . . 
  • Requests and Suggestions
  1. I would like to request . . . 
  2. I would like to suggest that . . . 
  3. I was wondering if it would be possible . . . 
  4. Another solution could be to . . . 
  5. I would appreciate it . . . 
  • Ending
  1. Thank you for your kind support.
  2. I look forward to receiving your response.
  3. Please let me know if you require any further information.
  4. I shall be obliged for your consideration.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth reading the IELTS formal letter samples?

If you want to excel in the IELTS letter writing task, going through different IELTS formal letter samples can help you better understand how to approach the task. The samples will provide insights into adequate tone, language, cohesiveness, and understanding of the topic. The formal letter samples included in this article are curated keeping in mind the IELTS Writing Task 1  assessment criteria.

Is there a difference between informal and formal letter topics in IELTS?

Yes. The main difference between a formal letter and an informal letter topic is that the former is directed toward a more professional situation, while the latter is focused on personal circumstances. Interpreting the given situation, you can recognize if the given letter is formal or informal in IELTS.

How are formal letters written?

Formal letters are written in a professional tone. They should remain to the point and use long sentences without any casual tone. 

What is the formal letter format in IELTS?

The IELTS formal letter format includes three main parts– greeting, body, and signature. The body of the formal letter can be further divided into an introduction, detailing/action points, and closing.

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert
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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.