The Do’s and Don’ts of IELTS General Writing

The IELTS General test is taken by those individuals who want to work in or immigrate to a country where English is the native language. The Listening and Speaking Modules are similar to the one taken by IELTS Academic students but the Reading and Writing Modules are different. Our focus today is going to be on the IELTS General Writing module.     

The IELTS General Writing Task 1 – Do’s and Don’ts

The  IELTS General Writing Task 1 is designed to test your ability to use language for functional purposes – more specifically, to write a letter. The question will provide you with the scenario or situation. Your answer is expected to have a minimum word count of 150 and you can take around 20 minutes to write it. Here, we have put together some important do’s and don’ts which you should follow while doing your online IELTS practice of writing task 1 as well as when you take the actual IELTS test.   


  • Read and understand the question well, before you start to write. This will ensure that you are able to identify the type of letter- whether it is formal, semi-formal or informal; read the question at least twice so that you address all the bullet points in your letter.
  • Use the appropriate tone. Once you know who you are writing to and with what purpose, you can use the appropriate tone. For instance, a formal letter will always begin with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’  and end with ‘Yours Faithfully’ followed by the full name whereas an informal letter will have ‘Dear [first name]’ as the salutation and the sign-off could be ‘Your loving friend’ followed by the first name. 
  1. Salutation/greeting 
  2. The first paragraph should state the letter’s aim.
  3. One paragraph for each question bullet point
  4. Closing
  5. Sign-off
  • Do mention the purpose of the letter in the opening paragraph itself. However, if you need to introduce yourself, then, the purpose should follow the introduction. For instance, it could be worded as – ‘I am a resident of Windsor Apartments, Colaba West and I am writing to register a complaint regarding the dismal condition of the Grant Road which runs in front of my housing society’.       
  • Do use appropriate language – Formal and informal language should be used depending on the letter type. 
Formal  Informal
I require your assistance. I need your help.
I would like to invite you… Why don’t you drop in?
Purchase Buy
It gives me great pleasure to… I am happy to …


  • Don’t use contractions in formal letters.
  • Don’t use an informal or conversational tone for formal letters. 

Some examples of formal versus informal tone are – 

Formal Informal
I am writing with regard to… I’m writing to let you know that…
I suggest that you come in August. It would be great if you come in August.
  • Don’t write your letter in bullet points. Ensure that it is paragraphed appropriately.
  • Don’t miss out on any aspect of the bullet point. For instance – ‘Describe who the person is and how you know them’. There are 2 parts to this bullet point. Be sure to write about both. 
  • Don’t use formal language in an informal letter. For instance – ‘I am writing to inform you that I have enrolled for swimming classes recently’, would be too formal. On the other hand, this language would be apt for a letter to a friend  – ‘Guess what? I have joined swimming classes recently’. 
  • Don’t spend more than 20 minutes on task 1 as you will need 40 minutes for task 2 which has double the weightage as task 1.
  • Don’t write an address on the letter. It is not required. 

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The IELTS General Writing Task 2 – Do’s and Don’ts –

The IELTS General Writing Task 2 is an essay writing task on a topic of general interest. Albeit easier than academic task 2, we would  still want you to consider the following do’s and don’ts while doing your IELTS writing practice test online  and also when you give your actual IELTS test to ensure that you do your best and get the desired band score –


  • Read the question at least twice, if not thrice to understand it properly. This will ensure that you do not go off track and that you address every aspect of the topic in your essay. 
  • Spend some time planning and organizing your essay. Do some brainstorming to generate ideas and organise them into a structure before you start writing.
  • Proofread your essay and make corrections. The best of us tend to make mistakes while we are in the flow of writing. Reserving some time for proofreading and editing ensures that you do not lose out on band scores on account of silly mistakes.
  • Ensure that you paragraph your essay appropriately with distinct introductory and concluding paragraphs and at least 2 body paragraphs.
  • Do use linking words. They help to connect your thoughts and ideas to each other and ensure smooth progression in the essay.  


  • Don’t give an opinion if it is not asked for; in other words, you address all aspects of the prompt and nothing more in your answer.    
  • Don’t simply list out points in the body paragraphs. For instance, in an advantage-disadvantage type of essay, don’t simply list down the merits and demerits. Have one distinct topic sentence, which in this case would be one significant advantage and disadvantage in each body paragraph. Have supporting ideas to explain the topic sentence and provide examples illustrating the point.
  •  Don’t introduce any new points in the conclusion. It should ideally be a summary of what you have written in the introduction and body paragraphs.
  • Don’t give personal examples unless specifically asked for.

While we have curated this list of the most important points to be borne in mind while doing your online IELTS practice, we recommend that you explore free IELTS Practice Tests for better practice. Here you can access several practice questions related to Writing Tasks 1 and 2. 

The questions are quite similar to those found on the IELTS exam. Moreover, you will find two sample answers for each writing task – one that warrants a high band score and one that will get a  low band score. What’s more, the reasons for the low band score are also given which will help you prepare and do better not only in the free IELTS online test but also in the actual IELTS test and get you your desired band score!