IELTS Task 1 Writing General Training – News to a friend

IELTS Task 1 Writing General Training

How to use informal language in IELTS Task 1 Writing General Training

One of the most difficult things to get right in IELTS Task 1 Writing General Training is tone. In other words, it can be difficult to decide how formal to write.

Often, IELTS students have learned to write in a style that is fairly formal, and this makes it challenging for them to write more informally.

To help you with this, here are three ways of writing the same kind of sentence to different groups of people.

Read the sentences and then decide which groups or situations below would go with each one.

1. It cannot be denied that studying in Harvard would change my life in a number of ways.

2. Studying in Harvard will change my life in many ways.

3. Going to Harvard will obviously change my life in many ways!

your boss
a lecturer
a person you have been introduced to but you have never met
a quick email
an application letter
a sentence from an essay

– a lecturer
– a sentence from an essay

– your boss
– a person you have been introduced to but never met
– an application letter

– friends
– family
– a quick email

What makes writing informal?

If you take a look at the above, you will see that informal writing is fairly different from semi-formal, although the words are often used in a similar way.

Informal writing often has:

– exclamation marks ( ! )
– short, direct sentences
– use of the pronouns “I” and “You”
– very few or no passives
– the use of more adverbs and adjectives to do with feelings and emotions, including intensifiers like “obviously”
– contractions “I’ll” “we’ll”
– idioms and colloquial expressions like “it’d be great if …” and “get together” instead of “meet”

The question

Now take a look at the following answer from a student and see how they deal with tone. How appropriate Is the level of formality for the audience?

IELTS Task 1 Writing General Training Question
Write a letter to your friend informing him/her about good news. Please say

– What is the news?
– How will it affect you?
– Suggest a place to meet for a celebration.

Student Answer

Dear Robin,

I Hope you are having an amazing time. I am overly excited to share
one of the biggest news of my life for which I have waited for ages!

Guess what, I have got a chance to study MBA in Harvard University. I
just received the confirmation letter from the University and I am
over the moon now. It was not only a wildest dream ever but also
something that I have never thought would come true!

Studying in Harvard would literally change my life in many ways. First
and foremost, learning form one of the world’s best universities is
likely to make a huge difference, but more importantly, it will
satisfy my soul because I always wanted to study there. Another great plus is there is a high demand of Harvard graduates in the USA market which means I would be able to start a career right after completing my study. Finally, my parents are very delighted now; after all, they have contributed a lot towards this success.

On this special moment of accomplishment, I would like to share my contentment with some of you for which I would like to arrange a get together. So, I would be immensely happy if you could join me in celebrating the news at Dhaka Club in next Friday evening.

Hope to see you there,


Words: 223

Writing Feedback

Task Achievement: 6

This is very good answer. The main problem here is tone.

  • + It describes all the key points, and develops them sufficiently
  • – The tone varies between informal and semi-formal. To get a 7 here, you really need to be fairly consistent with the tone. Take a look at the sample answer to see what I mean 

Coherence and Cohesion: 7 ~ 8

This is logically organized and flows reasonably well.

  • + It uses a variety of linkers well.
  • + The whole piece flows fairly logically. It isn’t hard to follow the information.
  • + It refers to previous information well, and there is very little repetition.

Lexical Resource (Vocabulary): 8

This would probably get an 8.

  • + Generally, good use of language. Few spelling and word form errors.
  • + There is a good range of language to answer the question
  • – There is a small number of repeated phrases. E.g. “I would like to”
  • – The only real issue is some some clunky uses. E.g. “share my contentment”, “very delighted”, “overly excited”. But these are relatively minor.

Grammatical range and accuracy : 7 ~ 8

Generally, you have an accurate writing style, with nearly all sentences being correct, or very close to being correct.

  • + Generally, you have a wide range of sentence types and a range of complex sentences.
  • – There are some very minor errors e.g. “my study” –> “my studies”
    one of the biggest news” –> “the biggest pieces of news”

Overall : 7 ~ 7.5

Overall, this is a very good answer. If you improve the way you handle tone, you should be able to get a 7.5 or better.

IELTS Sample Answer

Dear Robin,

How are you going? I hope the kids and everyone else is doing well too!

Actually, the reason I’m writing is that I’ve got something really amazing to tell you.

Guess what? I’ve just been accepted into the MBA programme at Harvard University! I just got the confirmation letter from the University this morning and I am totally over the moon! As you know, I’ve been working hard on this for over a year now and I was starting to think that it would never happen!

Going to Harvard will obviously change my life in many ways! Of course, I’ll be learning at one of the world’s best universities, which in itself is an incredible opportunity, but more importantly, I’ll be able to rub shoulders with all sorts of other interesting people!

Also, it’ll definitely make it easier to get my career on track. I recently read that there is a high demand for Harvard graduates in the USA, which means I should be able to start work almost immediately after completing my degree.

So, anyway I’m so happy that I’m inviting all my friends to come and join me for a bit of a get together to celebrate. I’m thinking of the Dhaka Club next Friday evening, maybe at 7?

Let me know if you can make it.

Hope to see you there!


Words: 224

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