The words IELTS letters 2021 sit next to the podcast cover art

My IELTS Classroom Episode 44: IELTS Letters 2021

IELTS Letters 2021

Hey – welcome to our IELTS letters 2021 episode! Every time one of my students emails me their IELTS results, the fist thing I ask them is “What questions did you have in the writing exam?” There are two reasons for this: First, it helps me understand if our students are performing better in some type of questions than others (so I can support future students better). Second, it allows me to build a bank of recent exam questions that I can give to my students to use for high-quality practice.

The words recent IELTS letters 2021 sit in blue n a white background

This week, I updated my recent IELTS letters blog post to show 20 prompts that have been given in exams this year. Today, Nick and I discuss 8 of those questions in detail to look at what IELTS letters 2021 look like. In short, while the usual functions remain (explaining, asking, suggesting, complaining, etc), there are some new, interesting topics! ¬†ūüöÄ

Subscribe to My IELTS Classroom podcast on Apple podcasts here 
Subscribe to My IELTS Classroom on Google podcasts here

Podcast Summary: IELTS Letters 2021

00:00 – 12:36 –¬†Introduction: Can¬†you¬†help my nephew with his maths homework?

My sister called me this morning asking if I could help her with my nephew’s maths homework. I have the reputation in my family for being “good at maths” but even I am struggling with the second question here! If you want to help me help my sister help my nephew by calculating the “darts” answers, we will all be VERY grateful! I have been looking at it for about an hour and am still not 100% sure that my answers are correct!

12:37 – 17:42 –¬†Informal IELTS letters 2021

The worst thing that you can do in IELTS is write a letter that is “mixed tone“. In other words, if you are asked to write to your “friend” and you use very formal language (such as transition signals or formal verbs), then you will be awarded no higher than a 5.0 for Task Achievement. In my experience, students struggle most getting the tone of informal letters right. Having spent a lot of time preparing to write an academic essay, the language of informal letters can appear “too simple” and in trying to make it “more complex”, student often destroy their tone by using language that is completely inappropriate in a letter to a friend.

Get your tone right!

If you are unsure what the difference is, in terms of language, between a formal, semi-formal, and informal letters, then I strongly recommend that you watch our free video lesson, which explain it clearly. You can do that by clicking here. Trust me – if you do nothing else to prepare for your letter, then you should watch that lesson as it is a score-saver!


There have been very few informal letters reported by my students in 2021, but of those that were, this is the most interesting one from my perspective. Find out why in the episode!

You are going to throw a party and would like to cook a special dish for your guests but do not have the recipe. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

  • tell your friend why you are having a party
  • explain what dish you want to cook and ask your friend for the recipe
  • invite your friend to the party


17:43 Р31:18 РSemi-formal IELTS letters 2021 

As usual, there have been a number of letters that ask you to write to a boss, colleague, neighbour, or landlord so far in 2021. In the episode, we discuss two that I have never seen before and I think are interesting. Can you guess why? I’ll give you a clue – one I predict students will tackle in the wrong tone, and one may be hard to come up with ideas…..

You rent an apartment. You want to tell your landlord that you are happy with the apartment in general, but there are some small repairs that need to be carried out. Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter


  • say what you like about the apartment
  • describe the repairs that need to be made
  • explain how the repairs will improve your quality of life

You currently work full-time in a company but would like to change to working part-time. Write a letter to your manager. In your letter


  • explain why you would like to change to working part-time work
  • say what times and days of the week would suit you best
  • suggest how your work could be covered or completed if you work part-time

Want to listen to two former examiners explain how you can make sure you fully address prompts that ask you to write a Formal and Semi-formal letter? You can! Just click on the player below:

31:45 РEND РFormal IELTS letters 2021 

Finally, we come to good old formal letters, and there have been A LOT reported so far this year. We see the return of some old classics, plus the introduction of some totally new topics. We will look at one that we think is easy, one that is easier than I originally thought (thanks to Nick’s comments), one that looks like a classic formal letter but has a twist, and two that require very specific vocabulary.

You have made a reservation in a hotel for a business trip for you and your colleagues. However, you need to make some changes to your booking. Write a letter to the hotel manager. In your letter


  • give details of your current booking
  • explain what changes you need to make and why
  • ask the manager to make some special arrangements for your business meetings

You have some documents that you need to be translated into another language as soon as possible. Write a letter to a translation agency. In your letter


  • say what the documents
  • explain why you need them to be translated
  • ask for the documents to be translated urgently

You own an old item that you think is valuable and would like to sell. Write a letter to the owner of an antique’s shop. In your letter

  • explain how you found the shop
  • describe the old item¬†that you would like to sell
  • say how much you would like to sell the item for

You have seen an advert in a newspaper for a part-time voluntary job working with children. Write a letter to the employment agency. In the letter

  • say what the job you wish to apply for is
  • explain why you want to apply for the job
  • describe some of the skills and qualities you have that would be useful

You are a member of a local gym. Recently, there has been a problem in the changing area. You have reported this to the staff several times, but no action was taken. Write a letter to the manager of the gym. In your letter

  • describe the problem in the changing area
  • say who you reported the problem to before
  • suggest what should be done about the problem

If you want more high-quality questions to practice your letter writing with, then you can look at our 2020 archive to see more questions that are reported from previous IELTS exams.

Click here to read our 2020 letters archive

You can find all of our video lessons,¬†including a full 9-hour Grammar course, on our main website www.myieltsclassroom.com.¬†This is where you can also sign up for our IELTS essay correction service or¬†join one of our writing packages.¬†ūüöÄ

Free IELTS Advice?

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive regular tips, tricks and special offers!