Home 9 The 5 types of General Training IELTS letters

The 5 types of General Training IELTS letters

The 5 types of General Training IELTS lettersThe 5 types of General Training IELTS letters. The aim of Task 1 in the General Training test is to write a letter in response to a problem or situation. There are 5 potential categories of letter that you may need to write about, so on this page we will take a look at each of the 5 possible types.

Type 1: A letter of complaint or apology

For these letters, you may need to apologise for something you have done or not done, or make a complete about someone else. Keep in mind that a letter of apology can be formal or informal depending on the context, but generally letters of complain are always formal.


You were recently shopping in a local clothes store and the shop assistant
was extremely rude to you.

Write a letter to the shop owner about the incident. In your letter

• explain the situation
• tell the manager how you felt
• describe what action you think they should take


You are writing an important report for your Managing Director who is based at your company’s head office. You are unable to meet the deadline and need an extension.

Write a letter to your Director.

In your letter

• explain why you are unable to finish the report on time
• apologise for not meeting the deadline
• say what you are going to do to rectify the situation

Type 2: A letter asking for or giving information

For this type of letter, you will need to make sure that you are clear on the information you are asking for or giving. Remember that the Task 1 question will have a number of bullet points that you need to cover in your response.

Asking for information:

You are planning to visit another city and your friend knows some people who live there and has suggested you contact them.

Write to these people. In your letter

• enquire about good restaurants suitable for a budget traveller
• enquire about places of interest to visit during your trip
• suggest that you meet during your stay

Giving information:

You are meeting an important business contact from overseas who you have never met in person. You are meeting him/her at the airport.

Write to your business contact. In your letter

• explain that you will meet him/her
• tell them where to wait for you if you are late
• talk about how you will be able to recognise each other

Type 3: A letter of thanks or making a request

Perhaps the most important aspect of these types of letters is making sure that you use polite, friendly vocabulary. A common error with this type of Task 1 is that candidates make demands rather than requests!

A letter of thanks:
You have recently attended a job interview but have now decided that you will not take the job if it is offered as you have been given another position with another company you applied to.Write a letter to the interviewer. In your letter:• thank them for inviting you to the interview
• explain the situation
• apologise for any problems caused
A letter of request:
Your hobby is collecting books and there is a particular rare book that you want to buy. You have found information on the internet about a shop that sells it but it is a long way from where you live.Write a letter to the shop owner. In your letter:• Explain the situation
• Suggest a time you would be able to visit the shop
• Ask if they could hold the item for you

Type 4: A letter asking for or giving suggestions / recommendations

For this type of letter, you need to know how to present a suggestion or recommendation without being dogmatic (for example, ‘Why don’t you visit the museum? rather than ‘Go and visit the museum’).


Your cousin is about to apply to university. He/she cannot decide whether to study history which was their favourite subject at school or a business degree which may relate more directly to a future career and has asked you for your advice.Write a letter to your cousin. In your letter:

  • make suggestions regarding which decision you think is better
  • suggest other ways they could find out more information
  • invite him/her to visit you to talk more about the subject

Type 5: Letters about likes, dislikes, needs and wants

This type of letter can be difficult without a good range of vocabulary, so you need to be confident that you can talk about preferences and interests in formal and informal ways.

Likes, dislikes, needs and wants:
You have a new pen pal and you are writing your first letter to them.

Write a letter to your pen pal. In your letter

• give some background information about you and your life
• talk about what foods you like/dislike
• talk about what you like doing in your spare time


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The 5 types of General Training IELTS letters

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The 5 types of General Training IELTS letters