There are 7 IELTS letter topics that come up regularly in General Writing Task 1. They are:
Your question could be on any one of them.
Occasionally, other topics crop up, for example,
We’ll look at some sample questions on these too.
There are also two different types of letter that you could be asked to write.
You must learn how to decide what type of letter the question requires you to write because you will need to use different language to create a different tone for each style of letter.
It’s very simple to tell the difference between them. Follow this rule:
The only exception is if the letter is to a close family member when you would also use an informal tone, but these are not common.
So, you should write a formal letter to someone you don’t know or don’t know well and an informal letter to a friend or close family member.
To learn more about formal and informal letters, including advice on using a semi-formal tone, study these lessons.
Formal or Informal? – How to decide what type of letter to write. Sample questions & 2 model letters.
How To Write an Informal Letter & How To Write a Formal Letter – Step-by-step instructions, simple 4 step plan & 6 part letter structure, model letters.
Of the 7 different IELTS letter topics, some are more common for formal letters, others for informal letters. I’ve highlighted the most common in red in the two lists below.
However, you could get any topic for either a formal or informal letter as you’ll see in the sample questions we’ll look at in a minute.
Many of these topics require you to use specific language that you may not use in any other parts of the exam. You’ll find lists of useful phrases to learn on this page: Letter Writing Vocabulary
To help you recognise the different IELTS letter topics, we’ll now look at some typical questions.
Often, a question will include elements of more than one topic. In the question below, for example, the letter is a request for a student to change courses but you would also need appropriate language for complaining about the original course.
You are not happy with the course you are doing at college and would like to change to a different course.
Write a letter to the college director requesting to change your course. You should include details about:
For this next question, on the other hand, you have to explain something and also make an invitation.
You have recently moved to a new apartment.
Write a letter to a friend. In your letter:
The point I'm making is that you shouldn’t waste time stressing about the specific IELTS letter topic. Use the topic types as a guideline to help you chose phrases to use but most of all, make sure that you address each bullet point using appropriate language.
Here are some sample questions for the IELTS letter topics listed above.
You want to learn a language. There is a teacher near to where you live.
Write a letter to the teacher. In the letter:
You are going to visit the town where your friend went to university.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:
You live in a room in college which you share with another student. There are many problems with this arrangement and you find it difficult to work.
Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter:
There is a problem with the changing rooms in the sports centre that you visit. You have complained several times but with no success.
Write a letter to the manager of the sports centre. In your letter:
Your neighbour has written to you to complain about the noise from your flat.
Write a letter to your neighbour. In your letter
You have just missed a friend’s party.
Write a letter to apologise. In your letter:
A family member is coming to stay with you. He/she will be arriving by train in the morning, but you won’t be home until the evening.
Write a letter to your relative. In your letter:
You are planning a holiday abroad and will be visiting a town where an old friend lives. You haven't spoken to this friend in a few years.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter,
You would like a job working in the summer camp which runs sports and outdoor activities for children and young people.
Write a letter to the organisers of the summer camp. In your letter:
You have decided to leave your current employment.
Write a letter to your employer. In the letter:
You are organising a seminar for your company.
Write a letter to the manager of another department inviting them to give a presentation at the seminar. In your letter:
You are organizing a family party.
Write a letter to your friend inviting him/her to attend the party. In your letter:
You want to book a hotel recommended to you for a family holiday at the seaside.
Write a letter to the hotel manager to make arrangements. In the letter:
You and your friend have booked tickets to go to the theatre. You are now unable to go but have found another friend to accompany him/her instead.
Write a letter to your friend. In the letter:
A colleague lent you a book that helped you to prepare for a presentation at work.
Write a letter to your colleague thanking them. In the letter:
Last month you had a foreign holiday where you stayed with some friends. They have just sent you some photos of your holiday.
Write a letter to your friends. In your letter:
A local newspaper is organising an award ceremony for local people who make a significant contribution to the community.
Write a letter to the editor to recommend someone you know for an award. In your letter:
Your friend has written a letter to you asking for advice regarding a visit that his/her parents will be making to your area in the near future.
Write a letter to your friend. In your letter:
Use these questions to practice your letter writing skills. You can see model answers for many of them in the lessons on how to write letters on the 7 most common IELTS letter topics. You’ll find them in the menu below.
Want to watch and listen to this lesson on IELTS letter topics?
Click on this 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.