How to Answer IELTS Writing Task 1 General

Hi, I’m Justin. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn how to answer
task one of the IELTS general writing exam. In the general IELTS writing exam, task one
involves writing a letter. Usually, you have to do three things in your
letter. You have 20 minutes and you need to write
at least 150 words. In this lesson, you’ll see how to plan and
write an effective general task 1 IELTS answer. You’ll learn simple strategies you can use
to write a better answer and improve your IELTS writing score. Let’s start by looking at a sample question: Your neighbour has been making a lot of noise
recently. This has been causing you problems, and you
want to ask them to stop. Write a letter to your neighbour. In your letter: – ask for an explanation for the noise
– explain the problems this has caused for you
– say what will happen if the problem is not solved Pause the video if you want more time to look
at the question. Let’s begin by looking at what you need
to think about before you write. Planning for IELTS general task one answers
is easier than for other IELTS writing tasks. All general task one questions have the same
structure. This means that your answer can have the same
structure every time. The question asks you to do three things. Each point can go in its own paragraph. So, your answer will have three short paragraphs,
like this: Then, you need a short introduction. For this question, you can just write a single
sentence to explain why you’re writing, like this: I am writing to complain about the noise levels
coming from your apartment in recent weeks. The introduction might be different in other
tasks. For example, if you’re writing to a friend,
you’d write something much simpler. There is one more thing you need to think
about when planning: tone. When we say ‘tone’, we mean how formal
or informal your letter should be. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam
is the only place where tone is clearly mentioned in the scoring scheme. You need to write in an appropriate tone,
and your tone needs to be consistent. What tone do you think you need here? Should your letter be formal, neutral, or
informal? Probably, your letter will be somewhere between
neutral and formal. You’re writing to your neighbour, so you
don’t need to be incredibly formal, but you’re also writing to complain, which adds
formality. In our experience, one of the most common
mistakes with task one answers is not getting the tone right. Either candidates choose an inappropriate
level of formality, or they mix different levels in the same answer. Both of these mistakes will hurt your score. So, before you write anything, think about
how formal your letter should be. Now, you have a plan; let’s write our first
paragraph! Look at the beginning of a letter: Dear Emily, How’s it going? I’m actually writing because I have some
issues with noise coming from your apartment. I would like to demand an explanation for
the noise levels. I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s
so noisy? I can hardly have a conversation with someone
sitting next to me, because it’s so loud. Please inform me what is occurring. Pause the video if you want more time to look
at the answer. Think about whether this is good, or whether
it needs some work. There’s a problem with this beginning. Do you know what it is? The problem is tone. As you heard before, it’s a common mistake
to mix formal and informal language. Here, you can see very formal sentences, like: I would like to demand an explanation for
the noise levels. You can also see more informal language, like: I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s
so noisy? The start of the letter also mixes different
levels of formality. Writing how’s it going? is a more informal
way to start a letter or an email, but if you’re writing to complain, you would almost
certainly need to use a more neutral or formal tone. To get a high score in the general IELTS writing
exam, you need to write in a consistent tone. If you want to practice, think about how you
could improve the answer you saw before. You can pause the video, and start again when
you’re ready. Let’s see how you could improve this answer:
Pause the video if you need more time to read. You can see that we’ve got rid of some of
the more informal language, like how’s it going? This is also better because it’s consistent
without being too formal. Our original answer included very formal language,
like Please inform me what is occurring. You don’t get more points for being more
formal; you get a high score by writing in an appropriate and consistent tone. Next, let’s continue by thinking about use
of language in your answer. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam
is the simplest of all the IELTS writing tasks. This is an advantage, but it also means you
need to think carefully about using a wide range of language. Let’s look at this by adding another paragraph
to our model answer: This situation is having a bad effect on my
entire family. I have been unable to sleep, because of the
loud noises even late at night. My son complains that he cannot do his homework. Even our dog has been behaving oddly; she
is not eating well and has no energy. This is a good paragraph, and the use of language
is already good. However, to get higher scores, you would need
to use a wider range of language. Let’s do two things here. First, look at the five underlined words and
phrases. Can you change these words and phrases to
make them more detailed and more specific? Think about it—you’ll see some possible
answers in a minute. Your second job is to take two sentences and
combine them into a more complex sentence. There’s more than one way you could do this,
so find an idea which makes sense to you. Think about your answers now. Pause the video if you need more time. Ready? Let’s look:
You can see that you don’t need to make big changes. A lot of students think that you need to use
a lot of very academic language to get high scores in IELTS. You don’t. To get high scores—even band 9—you need
to use a range of language with flexibility and precision. That might include academic language in some
cases, but for a letter, that wouldn’t be appropriate. Collocations are very important for your IELTS
vocabulary score. Using collocations like sleep properly, noise
levels, lose your appetite, or focus on your homework will boost your vocabulary score. For grammar, we simply connected two sentences
with the conjunction while. This adds variety to the sentence structures,
which will also help your score. At this point, you need to write one more
paragraph. Here, you’re going to see how you can connect
your ideas more effectively. There’s a common problem we see with IELTS
writing in our students. Students often plan each paragraph separately. Then, they write each paragraph as a separate
unit, and the paragraphs don’t have much connection to each other. This will hurt your score; 25 per cent of
your score is for coherence and cohesion. To get a higher score for coherence and cohesion,
your writing needs to have a clear progression. That means it needs to have a clear beginning,
middle, and end. Let’s look at a final paragraph which doesn’t
handle this well: I must ask you to reduce the amount of noise
you make, and try to keep quiet during the evening when we are at home. If you continue making noise at these levels,
I will have no choice but to make a noise complaint to the police and/or to the city
council. Regards, Samira Pause the video if you want more time to read
the paragraph. This is not bad, but it doesn’t include
any links or references to the other points you’ve made in the letter. It also lacks a concluding phrase, which could
provide a strong, clear end to your letter. Let’s see how you could improve this:
Can you see what’s changed? Pause the video to read. There are four changes. First, we made a reference to the first paragraph,
then we added a reference to the second paragraph. We also avoided repetition by adding a reference
to ‘this situation’, instead of talking about noise levels again. Finally, we added a concluding phrase. And you’ve finished! Practice these steps and ideas and you should
be able to get a high score in task one of the general IELTS exam. Here’s a question for you: what do you find
most difficult in task one of the general IELTS writing exam? Please let us know in the comments. You can see the full text of the model answer
on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. Look for a link in the video description if
you’re watching on YouTube. Thanks for watching! See you next time!

44 thoughts on “How to Answer IELTS Writing Task 1 General

  1. Help others prepare for the IELTS writing exam and add a translation in your own language:

  2. Thank you. What you said about "tone" is no too clear to me. I thought the kind of later determines the tone… ( formal, semi formal or informal) secondly your closing I thought was for informal letter where as you explained semi formal letter all through.

  3. Firstly thanks for making videos for students but I ensure you will make more videos related with first task.

  4. Hi Gina! Is there any difference between General and Academic in writing. Could you show a writing exercise for Academic test! Thanks!

  5. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kapoor,
    I am writing this letter to complain about noise which came from your apartment last night.
    Could you explain the reason that what was the happening? I and my family had disturbed too much because they had not sleeped very well.

    This situation is having a negative impact on my son' health. He is suffering with headache now. My father had got high blood pressure too. In fact I am also feeling tired.
    However, I would be hoping that you would be must aplozise for that and you will be not repeated this things.
    Looking forward for your prompt response!
    Yours sincerely,
    Smith karl.

  6. First of all thanks for providing good lessons to us, and I really learnt some nice information from your videos

  7. The most difficult thing is that you have inadequate time limitations! I believe IELTS examiners would not able to write above 7 if were given 15 minutes!

  8. Dear Gina nd Justin, I understand that approach to the task 1 I mean level of Formalities​ depends upon the person we address and intensity in the context given.I felt difficult in usage colloaction words and bring the progression in the last paragraph from first two.
    Thanks for your explanations how to make improvements..

  9. The most hardest issue that I face in task one, is how to discriminate beween formal and informal?
    I dont know the word that I use is formal or informal. NO STANDAR.

  10. Hello Gina & Justin, Thx for this lesson it is excellent,
    But I've an explanation for you, I noticed that you named the neighbor and choosed a name for the writer (me) Do we need to choose names or we just can start by saying Dear Neighbor,
    And at the end Yours, sincerely,

  11. Thank you very much
    I have two questions
    1st Is it formal or informal to use "ought to" in my writing ?
    2nd Is it good to write my paragraphs consecutively without having much pauses and full stops by using also, and,therefore, or,either etc or just stop my sentence and start new sentence ?

  12. Thanks for your video😘Hoping can have more video for writing about e mail format.As I found that it’s very difficult, I always worry about the tense is incorrect. Also no confident for the writing.

  13. i want to improve my English to take an ielts exam .But i think i haven't learnt English for ielts anywhere yet so i'm looking for a place where help me learn for ielts.I need you help

  14. Hi Gina
    Most difficult in part first For me
    Understanding Task 1 type like formal or informal
    Secondly, making story

  15. Both Justin and Gina look effortless in discharging their task. They looked innocent as they continued with conducting the session. I cannot but greet the inner potential of this two just-born teaching minds. Good luck.

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