this lesson, I show you step-by-step how to write an IELTS complaint letter.
These come up regularly in General Writing Task 1 so you need to know how to
plan and write them.
Here’s what the lesson includes:
All questions for IELTS letters have the same structure. They are made up of 3 parts.
Part 1 – The topic.
Part 2 – The person you must write to.
Part 3 – What you should write about (listed as 3 bullet points).
Here is a sample question for a letter of complaint with the 3 parts illustrated.
Understanding this will help you to quickly analyse the question and plan your answer. To help you plan, use the letter structure below.
For a full lesson on planning click here: How To Plan IELTS Letters
The layout of your IELTS complaint letter should follow the structure of the question and consist of four paragraphs with a greeting at the beginning and a signoff at the end.
Use this easy to remember 6 part structure.
1) Dear .....
2) Paragraph 1: Purpose – why you are writing
3) Paragraph 2: Write about 1st bullet point
4) Paragraph 3: Write about 2nd bullet point
5) Paragraph 4: Write about 3rd bullet point
All you need to do to create your plan is to add in the details from the question, like this:
Your letter must be written in the appropriate tone and style. There are two options:
It is essential that you are able to identify what type of question you’re required to write.
Follow this general rule:
IELTS complaint letter will almost always be addressed to someone you don’t
know and will thus be a formal letter, so this is what we’ll focus on for the
rest of the lesson.
Two parts of the letter that require very specific formal language are the greeting at the beginning and the signoff at the end so we’ll begin with these.
There are two ways you can begin your formal IELTS
It’s very likely
that you would not know the name of someone you were making a complaint to but
if you want to use a surname, just make one up.
The greeting you use will determine how you sign off your letter.
For a formal letter, there are two main options. The correct one will depend on who you are addressing:
Always sign off a formal letter with your full name, e.g. Jacky Spear
For our sample letter, we will use this greeting and signoff:
Dear Sir or Madam...
We are now ready to think up some ideas to write about. We have the guidelines of the 3 bullet points to help us so this won’t be difficult.
You are only required to write 150 words, so you won’t need many ideas. Just make sure that you write about each bullet point and develop each idea fully.
The ideas don't have to be the best ones you can think of. Go with your first thoughts and don’t waste time trying to think up better ideas. However, it’s essential that the ideas are directly related to the bullet points.
Note them beside each bullet point on the exam paper, like this:
our planning complete. Once you’ve had some practice, you’ll be able to do this
in just a few minutes. Taking time to plan will make writing your IELTS complaint
letter far quicker and easier than if you don’t do this step. You will also
write a better letter and get higher marks.
Next, we’re going to write our letter.
Here’s our plan again with all our notes added in.
We’ve already decided on the greeting so we’ll start with paragraph 1.
In the first paragraph, you must state the reason for writing the letter, that is, its purpose.
Paragraph 1: Purpose – to complain about the sports centre changing rooms
Many students make the mistake of missing this purpose sentence out but it's very important. Including it will gain you marks.
It only requires one sentence. Here are 4 different phrases you could use to start an IELTS complaint letter.
This is how we will start our letter:
Top vocabulary tip: Do not use contractions in formal letters. They are informal language. So, do not write ‘I’m writing to complain…
In the second paragraph, you write about bullet point 1.
Paragraph 2: describe the problem with the changing rooms (bullet point 1)
The toilets are dirty
Remember to keep the language formal for this question. Aim for around 50 words for each of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4. You could write something like this.
The third paragraph should cover the second bullet point.
Paragraph 3: what happened the last times you complained (bullet point 2)
Promised the problem would be addressed.
Paragraph 4 addresses the third bullet point.
Paragraph 4: explain what you want the manager to do (bullet point 3)
Rota list for staff to check every hour and sign.
Now we just need to add the signoff we decided on earlier and our letter is complete.
Here's our finished IELTS complaint letter.
To get some practice writing an
IELTS complaint letter, write a letter for the question below. Use the planning
structure I showed you above to plan before you start writing.
a sample letter.
You'll find lessons on other common IELTS letter topics in the menu below.
Listen to this lesson on How To Write an IELTS Complaint Letter?
Click on the video.
IELTS General Writing – A summary of the test including important facts, test format & assessment.
Format – The format, the 7 topics, letter
structure, formal & informal, assessment & marking criteria, sample
questions. Essential information you need to know.
Letter Writing Tips – Learn top tips on how to meet the assessment and marking criteria and achieve a high score.
Letter Writing Structure – Find out how to use this easy to learn letter structure to write a high-scoring letter. Includes a model answer.
How To Plan a Letter – Learn a simple 5 step process & 6 part letter structure. Also, help to understand the question & generate ideas.
Formal or Informal – How to decide what type of
letter to write. Sample questions & 2 model letters.
Letter Writing Vocabulary – Learn useful phrases to help you achieve a high score. Also, know how to start & end your letter.
How To Write an Informal Letter – Step-by-step instructions, simple 4 step plan & 6 part letter structure, model letter.
How To Write a Formal Letter – Step-by-step instructions, simple 4 step plan & 6 part letter structure, model letter.
Letter Topics – Learn the 7 most common letter topics & other popular subjects. Includes 20 sample questions.