IELTS Writing Task 1 Preparation – Checklist to Write Clear Sentences (with Samples)

The IELTS General Writing task 1 is generally designed to test letter writing skills. A clear and effective writing style will help you earn a score of 6, shows competency, and opens opportunities for studying abroad. This article will highlight five key areas and offer a mental checklist for IELTS preparation. You’ll walk in confident on exam day.

We’ll go through IELTS sample test questions and answers from Exam Success. Fortunately, most mistakes are avoidable though practice.

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Here is a sample question from a General IELTS Writing Task 1:

You recently moved to a new house in a different suburb. Write a letter in English to your parents. In your letter: • Explain the why you changed accommodation • Describe the new property • Tell then your other news Write at least 150 words. You do NOT need to write any addresses. Begin your letter as follows: Dear ……………………….,

Tenses tell us WHEN

Correctly using verb tenses shows your understanding of grammar and can really help or really hurt your IELTS score. This is why it’s important to think carefully about tenses. Tenses must be consistent to tell the reader when things happen.

Here is an example from a real life IELTS student.

…After six months she increased the rent and asked to pay $550. I had no drama and I accepted her offer second time. However, it was unacceptable when she wanted to discuss rent after 2 months time. She was thinking to charge even more. So, I was unhappy now…

I accepted her offer second time. Here’s how it should be written: I accepted her offer after the second time. Here’s why:The writer is talking about the past. The way the sentence is written is not clear. The correction adds “after” to emphasize the time.

So, I was unhappy now… Here’s how it should be written: So, I was unhappy after that. Here’s why: The use of “was” and “now” conflict. The writer is unhappy because his landlord raised the rent price. The change of “now” to “after that” shows the reader that feeling unhappy was the reaction.

Strong descriptions paint a picture

Think about your favorite book. Can you imagine the places, people, sounds, even smells?

If your answer is yes, the author used excellent descriptions. It’s an opportunity to show vocabulary and writing style. While sentence length can vary, a strong description is 15-20 words.

Let’s look at more examples from IELTS students who use both high scoring and low scoring descriptions.

Low Scoring description

Error 1 …I need to inform you that I changed my accommodation. I found a new house near my office that is cheaper than the old one.

Here’s how it should be written: I need to inform you that I changed my accommodation. I wanted to live closer to my office. I was lucky to find a place closer and cheaper. Here’s why: The writer has rushed to tell us the main idea. The correction gives some background details on why the writer moved houses.

Error 2 It’s safe, easy to reach the bus and metro station, and my friends live there.

Here’s how it should be written: My new place is safer and cleaner. It’s also a 5 minute walk to public transport. A bonus is my best friend lives nearby. Here’s why: The answer format is a letter. The writer should give more details. Why is it safe? How far away is the metro station when walking? What does the neighborhood look like? Help your reader imagine the place.

High scoring descriptions:

As I told you before, my previous place was too far away from work and uni. I had to walk 15 minutes from home to the train station. On top of that, it was located right in front of King Georges road…

This is a good description: my previous place was too far away from work and uni/located right in front of King Georges road…

Here’s why it’s high-scoring: The writer describes the setting with details. The reasons are focused and don’t go into irrelevant topics. The street is relevant, but talking about food vendors isn’t. Keep focused when choosing details.

Spelling can boost your score too

Spelling errors can happen because of nerves, rushing, or over-reaching for sophisticated words. You can receive a high Writing Task score without flowery, literary language.


Use a different word with the same meaning if you don’t know the spelling. Changing up words and phrases will show confidence in language structures.

Let’s look at some examples from real life IELTS students.

Error 1: …to let you know about my new place.I am sorry for not telling before but i have been really buys with work and moving house. Error 2:ithink it the prefect excuse to exercise a bit and save some money as well.

Error 1: i / buys Correction: I / busy

Here’s what happened: The pronoun is not capitalized and busy is misspelled. These mistakes look they they have happened by rushing through the piece and not taking the time to check it.

Error 2: prefect excuse Correction: perfect excuse Here’s what happened: Perfect was misspelled most likely because of uncertainty. The writer could have used “great.” It’s an easier word, still works with the context and scores points.

Simple sentences and punctuation, keep it clear!

Writing sentences is like writing music. Do you want all short or long sentences? No.

Changing up the length of your sentences will make your writing more interesting.

Punctuation also helps write the music of your writing. Commas add pause while contractions like can’t and won’t sound more causal than can not and will not. See what we mean?

Let’s look at some more real life samples.

In this essay, a real life IELTS student wrote: On top of that it was located right in front of…

Here’s how it should be written: On top of that, it was located in front of… Here’s why: The writer used two expressions together, but did not use punctuation. People would not say this in one breath, right? There would be pauses. Try to write a letter as if you’re speaking. Using commas looks and sounds more natural.

Here’s another example:

I have my apartment close to a celebrity with name jack and have all the rooms equipped with heaters,queen size matress,and a big screen television.

Here’s how it should be written: I have an apartment close to a celebrity named Jack. All the rooms are equipped with heaters, queen-sized mattresses, and a big screen television. Here’s why: The writer did not separate ideas. The celebrity is first and the room setups are second. There are also no spaces after the commas. Keep your ideas simple and separate.

What we’ve done…

We’ve looked at tenses, descriptions, spelling, punctuation, and clarity. Work carefully and spend time on IELTS practice to boost your score on exam day. Practice will make you more confident and stronger in the language.

Below is a checklist to keep in mind during IELTS writing practice and on exam day.


  1. Pick three details that are closely related to and support your IELTS writing topic.
  2. Picture the setting, then choose describing words that you are confident and comfortable with using.
  3. Using one detail at a time, tell your story. Punctuation is important. Place commas and periods as if you were speaking.
  4. When you finish, check your work to correct any errors. During additional check, you might notice spelling, grammar, punctuation or others. Correcting these before time is up will likely help your score go up.

Practicing at home is great. Getting feedback on your practice is even better. Learn more about how you can practice then perform your best on the IELTS exam.

Next: 1 Crucial Strategy Your Child Needs to Know for Each of the 7 Tests in Scholarships and Selective School Exams

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