An image of a tuxedo and a pair of jeans sit side-by-side on a red background to symbolise formal and informal letters

OK, you are a IELTS General Training student sitting in the writing exam. The invigilator tells you that you can open your test paper and begin. You look at the prompt for the letter. What are you hoping to see? An informal letter, a formal letter, or a semi-formal letter? In my experience, most test-takers would say informal. I mean, writing a letter to a friend is easy, right? WRONG! 🙅‍♀️ And that’s because 99% of the informal letters that I mark are MIXED TONE.💀

A lone black sheep looks back at a flock of what sheep. The picture symbolises over-generalising, which is a problem for many IELTS students when they write.

In the writing exam, it can be easy to make claims that are generally true, but NOT always true. This can limit your score for Task Achievement to a 7.0 (which I know for most people won’t be a problem, but for some test-takers an 8.0 in TA can be the difference between a 6.5 and a 7.0!) So, how can you avoid over-generalising?!  HEDGING!!!