A step by step guide to improve IELTS Letter writing from 6.5 bands to 8 bands

The best way to improve IELTS letter writing from 6.5 to 8 bands is to understand the essential evaluation criteria: Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical resource and Grammatical range and accuracy. It is essential to note that first two criteria are more essential than the last two and hence, you should ensure that you complete the task well with appropriate flow of ideas and paragraphing.

After first evaluation of the letters by students, most of them invariably ask this question. “How to improve IELTS Letter writing from 6.5 bands to 8 bands?” Well, the answer does not lie in most of the YouTube videos. However, it lies in understanding what the IELTS wants to convey.

The best way to improve IELTS letter writing from 6.5 to 8 bands is to understand the essential evaluation criteria: Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical resource and Grammatical range and accuracy. It is essential to note that first two criteria are more essential than the last two and hence, you should ensure that you complete the task well with appropriate flow of ideas and paragraphing.

Sample IELTS Letter or Writing Task 1 (General Training)

You should spend about 20 minutes on the task.

You and some friends ate a meal at a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, and you were very pleased with the food and service.

Write a letter to the restaurant manager. In your letter

  • Give details of your visit to the restaurant
  • Explain the reason for the celebration
  • Say what was good about the food and the service

Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear Sir,

IELTS Letter with about 6 or 6.5 bands | version #1

Dear Mr Manager,

I am writing this letter to thank you for the fabulous experience at your restaurant. Last Sunday, me and my wife visited your eatery. We were greeted by your great staff and were given a tour of the property. The parking facility was great, and we did not have to wait unnecessarily.

Actually, we were celebrating our marriage anniversary. We had heard about your restaurant and its romantic environment so much that we decided to visit you.

We danced on the dance floor, tasted great food and had awesome mocktails. Your chef suggested some plethora of great recipes, and we found them awesome. The pool-side table was a great experience. By the end of the night, the star-gazing session arranged by your management was a breath-taking experience as well. Thank you for all the experience and for making our anniversary special.

Yours sincerely,

Michal John

 

I have seen similar letters many times. The student has a decent writing style but needs immense help in realising which aspects of writing he or she should prioritise. Let’s analyse the letter with the help of evaluation criteria prescribed by IELTS.

Improve Task Achievement (TA)

This criteria evaluates whether you have followed all instructions or not. The IELTS examiner checks whether you have actually written at least 150 words or not. He or she also checks the tone of the letter based on the situation and the address.

Apart from that examiner or the reader checks whether all three instructions are clearly and sufficiently answered or not. Then, the reader ensures that there is a rare repetition of ideas.

Should I write any address on the letter?

You should not write any address or traceable co-ordinates in the letter. The instruction on the Writing Task 1 or Letter Writing clearly mentions that you must not write any address.

Understand, mentioning a particular road or an area in a town is one thing but writing detailed address using which one can contact you is another. Not only the postal address, avoid writing a real phone number or an email id. If you write any of these details, it is taken as an attempt to influence the examiner. In such case, the IELTS may penalise you unnecessarily.

Strengths of the letter

  1. The letter almost follows the formal tone of the letter but could have a bit better.
  2. The author addresses all instructions and explains them decently.
  3. There are a few grammatical errors but mostly they do not hinder the meaning of the sentence.

Weaknesses of the letter

  1. To establish the formal tone of the letter the author could have started the letter as per instruction and then finished with ‘yours faithfully.’
  2. Similarly, the author could introduce himself or herself to the reader. Since this is a formal letter, chances that the author knows the reader are very rare.

Let’s say we incorporate basic changes to overcome weaknesses of the letter. Read the

Improved version #2 of the same IELTS Letter

Dear Sir,

I am Michal John am writing this letter to thank you for the fabulous experience at your restaurant. Last Sunday, me and my wife visited your eatery. We were greeted by your great staff and were given a tour of the property. The parking facility was great, and we did not have to wait unnecessarily.

Actually, we were celebrating our marriage anniversary. We had heard about your restaurant and its romantic environment so much that we decided to visit you.

We danced on the dance floor, tasted great food and had awesome mocktails. Your chef suggested some plethora of great recipes, and we found them awesome. The pool-side table was a great experience. By the end of the night, the star-gazing session arranged by your management was a breath-taking experience as well. Thank you for all the experience and for making our anniversary special.

Yours faithfully,

Michal John

I know these changes are not going to change the score of the essay significantly, but it’s a good start.

Ensure better Coherence and Cohesion (CC)

The second evaluation criteria are coherence and cohesion which generally deals with the flow of ideas and arrangement of paragraphs

Coherence is the ability to be logical and consistent while communicating. It is related to developing and supporting your point of view, organizing and clarifying ideas. If your ideas are not clear and do not convey the intended meaning, then your essay lacks coherence.

At the same time, cohesion in writing focuses on the structural aspect of sentences. It deals with the way you arrange your points, the transitions from one point to another and overall paragraphing used in the composition.

Strengths of the letter

  1. The paragraphing of the ideas is consistent with the kind of instructions that are provided by the task.

Weaknesses of the letter

  1. The ideas within a paragraph are not arranged well.

For example,

We were greeted by your great staff and were given a tour of the property. The parking facility was great, and we did not have to wait unnecessarily.

The problem with this statement is lack of coherence. Now if you imagine going to a restaurant you may expect to visit the parking area first and then meet the actual restaurant staff. However, in this letter, the sequence of the events are exactly opposite. Additionally, the author writes, we did not have to wait unnecessarily. Wait for what? The table or service or what? And how is it related to parking facility?

  1. Similarly, the writer writes that they danced, ate and drank mocktails. Was it at the same time? I mean how can one do all these things together?
  2. Now as far as cohesion is concerned, paragraphing can be better. As stated in the previous blogs, I always advocate writing 5 paragraphs. First one is introduction which is used only to establish to set the tone of the letter. Then, three body paragraphs addressing each instruction. Then lastly, the end paragraph to again ensure the tone of the letter.

Now let’s change the letter to overcome the weaknesses noted above.

IELTS Letter with bands about 6.5 to 7 bands| Version #3

Dear Sir,

I am Michal John and I am writing this letter to thank you for the fabulous experience at your restaurant.

 Last Sunday, me and my wife visited your eatery. The parking facility was great, and we did not have to wait unnecessarily for the valet service. We were greeted by your great staff and were given a tour of the property.

Actually, we were celebrating our marriage anniversary. We had heard about your restaurant and its romantic environment so much that we decided to visit you.

The pool-side table was a great experience. We danced on the dance floor and had awesome mocktails. Your chef suggested some plethora of great recipes, and we found them awesome. By the end of the night, the star-gazing session arranged by your management was a breath-taking experience as well.

Thank you for all the experience and for making our anniversary special. I hope to visit the property soon.

Yours faithfully,

Michal John

You may notice that since the introduction and end paragraphs are separate, they emphasise that I am reading a formal letter. Also, you may notice the changes in the order of points. I have tried to arrange all points in such a way that it is easy to understand the flow of information among the paragraphs.

Choose precise Lexical Resource (LR)

Lexicon means language or dictionary. So, lexical resource means resource related to language or dictionary. It basically checks how well can you use the words?

While reading your essay, IELTS examiner is looking for four things under lexical resource. First is Range of words or Rare repetition of words, the second is Precision and the third is Collocations and phrases. And lastly, spellings. We will analyse these, one by one.

Strengths of the letter

  1. Frankly, the author has used decent words.

Weaknesses of the letter

  1. Author has not paid sufficient attention to adjectives. As a result, he or she cannot describe many characteristics which the native speaker may use it effectively.

For example,

The author says ‘fabulous experience’. I mean what is that? Simply can the writer write ‘memorable experience’. Also, ‘parking facility was great’ is not the correct expression. An appropriate sentence could be ‘parking facility was spacious.’ Similarly, ‘great staff’ could have been ‘warm staff’ and romantic environment could be ‘romantic ambience’. Additionally, ‘awesome mocktails’ could be ‘refreshing mocktails’ and so on and so forth.

  1. The letter also lacks the precise word usage. For instance, marriage anniversary is incorrect words usage. Marriage refers to the relation that two people share and hence it cannot have an anniversary. However, a wedding is an event which can have an anniversary. Hence, a better word could be ‘wedding anniversary’.
  2. Plethora is one word which I would like to mention. It refers something which is abundant or excessive. It does not mean different. This actually happened in one of the latest ‘Train the trainer’ program that I attended conducted by IDP. The instructor from Cambridge was asked which word from students’ answers irritates you the most. And he pointed out plethora not only because everyone uses it but because most of the times it is used wrongly.
  3. Word Awesome is very similar. But what do these words mean? Awesome means causing or inducing awe or an overwhelming feeling of respect or admiration. So it means this adjective can be used very rarely only of those things which are really admirable. So instead of saying awesome mocktails, one should say refreshing mocktails, which is a precise expression for a drink.

Now, let’s revise the letter again.

Letter with bands about 7 to 7.5 bands | Version #4

Dear Sir,

I am Michal John and I am writing this letter to thank you for the memorable experience at your restaurant.

 Last Sunday, me and my wife visited your establishment. The parking facility was spacious, and we did not have to wait unnecessarily for the valet service. We were greeted by your warm staff and were given a tour of the property.

Actually, we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. We had heard about your restaurant and its romantic ambience so much that we decided to visit you.

The pool-side table was a great experience. We danced on the dance floor and had refreshing mocktails. Your chef suggested wide variety of great recipes, and we found them delicious. By the end of the night, the star-gazing session arranged by your management was a rare experience as well.

Thank you for all the evening and for making our anniversary special. I hope to visit the property soon.

Yours faithfully,

Michal John

 

Now this version seems much better than it was earlier.

Ensure grammatical range and accuracy (GRA)

As far as GRA is concerned, IELTS examiners want to know whether you can use appropriate tenses and variety of sentence structures. They also wish to see accurate usage of articles and punctuations at least. Let’s look into these four aspects one by one.

Strengths of the letter

  1. The kind of grammatical errors committed does not hinder the meaning of the sentence and so it is acceptable. However, these mistakes also restrict you from scoring better.

Weaknesses of the letter

  1. Now let’s look at this expression. Can you tell me which expression is correct? “Me and my wife” or “my wife and I”. To understand which one is correct, ask yourself a question. Do you say, ‘me visited a restaurant’ or ‘I visited a restaurant’? You always say, “I visited a restaurant.” So, the grammatical structures in your writing must be accurate.
  2. The letter needs to have more variety of sentence structures. It has mostly simple structures throughout without many varieties.

Let’s write the final version of the same letter.

Letter with bands about 7.5 to 8 bands | Version #5

Dear Sir,

I am Michal John and I am writing this letter to thank you for the memorable experience at your restaurant.

 Last Sunday, I and my wife visited your establishment where the parking facility was so spacious, that we did not have to wait unnecessarily for the valet service. We were greeted by your warm staff and were given a tour of the property.

Actually, we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and we had heard so much about your restaurant and its romantic ambience that we narrowed down on your place.

We danced on the dance floor and had refreshing mocktails in between. Later we settled by a romantic pool-side table where the chef suggested wide variety of great recipes, and we found them to be delicious. By the end of the night, the star-gazing session arranged by your management was a rare experience as well.

Thank you for all the evening and for making our anniversary special. I hope to visit the restaurant soon.

Yours faithfully,

Michal John

 

In this last version, you may have noticed the overall impact of the letter has changed altogether. It is much more precise and natural and precise.

Few observations to improve your IELTS Letter scores

  1. Ensure that you have addressed all instructions and the ideas are well explained. If your letter lacks these aspects, no sophisticated vocabulary or grammar is going to help you.
  2. Once you ensure the previous condition, then work on variety of words and complexity of sentences.
  3. Ensure that when a reader reads your IELTS letter or essay, he or she should be able to picture you writing as if it is happening in front of him or her.

How to manage time on IELTS Letters on General Training module?

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