Words to Avoid in IELTS Writing Task 1 General Training

When writing letters to a person, we have to be very careful on the tone of we are going to use. When we are writing to our boss or someone with a higher position or social rank, we have to use the formal tone and have a direct tone in writing. On the other hand, when writing to a friend, the informal tone is used. We can use almost any kind of words and even the structure of the sentences is not necessarily grammatically correct. The point is that the content and the tone of the letter depend on its recipient.


This is also applicable in the writing first task of the General Training in the IELTS or the International English Language Testing System examination. The examiner will be given twenty minutes to write a letter based on a topic. The personal could be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. It all depends on the task.

Some see this as an opportunity to get a good score since writing letters are easy. However, let us not forget that choosing the right words in a letter is crucial to the success of its content. Picking the right words means carefully expressing the thoughts in the letter without any chance of being misunderstood. Having this said, it is important for any candidate to use the right vocabulary and avoid words that can get them a fairly low score in the writing. Here are some words to avoid in the first writing task in the General Training module.

• Phrasal verbs (look for, turn up)

Phrasal verbs have different meanings based on how they are used on sentence. Instead of using these, choose a single vocabulary that has the same definition with it.

• Besides

This is very informal when used in writing – to avoid having a very informal tone, use incidentally in replacement of besides.

• Idiomatic expressions

Idioms are group of words and phrases that can be misunderstood if the one reading is not familiar with it. Choose expressions that are easily understood. For example, instead of saying, “I cannot go there since it is raining cats and dogs,” you can use “I cannot go there since it is raining hard.”

• And/But

Avoid using these words in the beginning of sentence. These are connectors. Instead of and, use FURTHERMORE, ADDITIONALLY. For but, you can use, ON THE OTHER HAND or ON THE CONTRARY.

• Contractions (can’t/won’t/don’t)

As much as possible avoid contractions. Spell out words.

To get a good score in writing, all you have to do is practice and read lots of sample writings. You will eventually develop the skill and your own technique in coming up with a nice letter for the General Training’s first writing task.

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