Your task achievement on GT comprises of some pre-defined elements.
- Word Count
- Clear Purpose
- Content Addressed
- Style and tone
Although writing a short letter may seem quite simple, the test requires you to think very carefully about the recipient (the person reading the letter) the content (the ideas and details you create), the purpose and style of the writing meeting the minimum word count you are instructed(150 words.)
If you can get these four things right, you answered the task fully, you should get a high score, even if there are some mistakes in your English. On the other hand, if the IELTS examiner thinks you are confused about these elements, you will get a low score – even if your English is quite good.
1. Word Count
Let me burrow a paragraph from previous lesson. “Examiners will ask you to write not less than 150 words and penalize if the answer is too short. Although test-takers will not be penalized for writing more than 150 words, what should be kept in mind is that giving too much than required may become an overdose …ah! and you may end up with less time for your task 2, you know the consequences, right?“
Thus, practice your writing task with 175 words in your mind. If you need to add or omit one or two sentences than the average you practice in home, it will still be within the dose i.e 150-190.
2. Clear Purpose
Depending on what the task instruction is, you then need to decide whether to write a letter of complain, request, apologize, invitation, suggestion or explanation.
Activity 4.1: Decide the purpose of this letter.
|You and your family have just rented an apartment and one or two problems occurred. |
Write a letter to the landlord.
Describe the problems and tell him what you want him to do.
Yes you are right. This is a letter of complain and suggestion combined.
Examiners will be looking for the purpose of the letter in your first body paragraph. Let’s take this band 9 scored essay. Can you find the purpose of the letter?
|Dear Mr Smith,|
I am writing regarding the amount of noise coming from the new canteen which has just opened near my University residence. Although I am pleased that we have this facility, the restaurant remains open up to midnight each night, and as a result there is considerable talking, shouting and the sound of motorbikes continuing until about 12.30 each night.
3. Content Addressed
Letter writing in IELTS clearly states the content you need to address in your answer(bold letter).
|Sample 1||Write a letter to a travel agent expressing your dissatisfaction with their facilities due|
to a problem you had on a holiday.
|Sample 2||You are attending a part time course in a college. Due to some problem, you cannot continue your course. Write a letter to your teacher|
– Describe the course
– Explain the problem
– Explain the reason for not continuing
– Tell the teacher about your future plans
|Sample 3||You would like to work overseas, write a letter to an employment agency. Write:-|
– what job you would like to apply
– what companies are you looking for
– why do you want to work overseas
Hence, you should be able to address all these stated task in your answer.
4. Style and Tone
Before you start your task, ask yourself these four questions(RSI):-
Who is the recipient(R)?
- Is the imaginary recipient of this a letter a person you know personally, or someone you don’t know?
- Is this person a friend, a stranger or a professional contact?
Which style(S) should I be Using?
- Should it be in a personal or formal style?
- Because of the style, how should you complete the ‘Dear ——-’ part?
Which content Idea(I) should I use?
- Why are you writing the letter?
- Which combination of the four possible content ideas is it asking you to create (complaining, requesting, explaining/ apologizing, suggesting)?
Hey! wait do you know?
This is one of the careful consideration that you will be making when writing letter. The type of recipient determines the type of your style.
Types of recipient and your style of writing:-
- Friend or Family →Personal style
- Total Stranger → Formal style
- Semi- Stranger(you know the person but not personally) → Formal/Semi-formal Style
Now, you may be wondering about these styles. They are no brainy too. You just need to carefully choose some phrases and words in your letter to show the style you have opted.
Let’s play this exercise and you will be crystal clear what I mean about style.
Activity 4.2: Choose the letter from the box for each sentence below.
Which style should I be using?
- I’m writing to complain about my treatment at AMC store.
- I want to thank my guide for helping me to score high.
- I need to invite my friend for a party?