General Training Task 1: Model Formal Letter

a letter in envelope to represent General Training Task - image by Magoosh
IELTS General Training Task 1 requires you to write a letter to someone. The letter itself will always serve a specific purpose; this purpose, as well as the three main details you should touch on, will always be outlined in the task instructions. The task itself is relatively short: 20 minutes long, and you can write as little as 150 words. The situations in each prompt will either be personal and informal, or business-oriented and formal. In this article, we’re going to look at a sample formal prompt and letter. Get ready to put on your business thinking as you write your own response and then check out our model answer!

Formal Letter Prompt and Model Letter

The Prompt

You recently read about a volunteer opportunity overseas. Write a letter to ask about applying. In your letter:

  • discuss what you know about the programme
  • explain why you are interested in the opportunity
  • describe what skills you would bring to the position

Write at least 150 words. You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ___________,

Model of a Formal Letter

Word count: 171

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing this letter with regard to the volunteer opportunity for doctors I saw advertised in the Daily Mail.

As described in the advertisement, the position you are seeking to fill is for a doctor with a desire to travel to Africa for six months of the year. I understand that the position would not require treating unusual diseases, but instead would primarily focus on general preventative measures and practices.

This appeals to me on several levels. I find the medical work here fascinating, and I have always loved to travel. In the past, I have gone to various East African countries, but I very much look forward to visiting other parts of the continent.

My experience and skills make me an excellent fit for this position. As a general practitioner with experience treating everyday ailments, I believe I am well qualified to assist your organization’s patients. Furthermore, my own patients have often commented positively on my manner. Finally, my superiors have frequently noted by ability to adapt well to new situations.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours faithfully,
Rachel Dale

Explanation and Band Score

Let’s look at a band score, with explanation. This score report is similar to the ones we can provide you if you have a Magoosh IELTS subscription plan, and the score itself is based on the categories in the official IELTS Writing Task 1 rubric.

Overall Band Score: 9


Task Achievement/ResponseCoherence and CohesionLexical ResourceGrammatical Range and Accuracy

Tips and Feedback

What was done well in this essay:

  • The 150-word minimum was met and exceeded, to avoid a penalty.
  • All three requirements from the task description are met. (The writer discusses what they know about the programme, explains why they’re interested in the opportunity, and describes their skills.)
  • Each paragraph has its own clear theme and focus.
  • There are good transition words and phrases (EX: as described, furthermore, in the past)
  • There is an appropriate and consistent formal tone, with polite, business-oriented language (the use of formal titles, the avoidance of contractions, etc…)
  • There is variety in word choice, with different words used to say similar things (EX: this appeals to me/I look forward to, good fit/well qualified)
  • Sentence structure and length is varied, and all sentences are written clearly and feel natural.

Final Thoughts on IELTS General Training (GT) Formal Letters

In some ways, formal letters are more challenging than other types of IELTS GT letters. After all, you have to use language that is careful and a little more elaborate. In some ways, however, formal letters are easier: the language rules are more clear. In contrast, for less formal letter writing, you don’t need to be as careful to follow an exact set of rules, but you also don’t get as much close guidance on how to write. With that in mind, even with formal letters, there can be a gray area: sometimes a formal situation calls for a mix of formal and semi-formal language. Fortunately, Magoosh offers a great guide on formal vs. semiformal tone in General Training letters.

In fact, Magoosh has you covered for any kind of letter. We have more prompts and example letters to help you prepare for the IELTS GT letter writing task. And if you have a Magoosh IELTS General Training subscription, you’ll be able to watch our video lessons on letter writing, go through extra practice questions, and even get your responses scored. We also have a collection of resources that will have you covered for any aspect of the IELTS Writing section.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!