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In Writing Task 1, test takers are presented with a situation and required to write a personal response in the form of an informal, semi-formal or formal letter of at least 150 words in the answer booklet provided. The situations they are asked to write about are common, everyday ones such as: writing to a college accommodation officer about problems with accommodation, writing to a new employer about time management problems they are having, writing to a local newspaper about a plan to develop a local airport, writing to a renting agency to sort out problems with the heating system in their house.
Test takers are told what kind of information (in the form of three bullet points) they must include in their response. They may be required to request or give information and/or explain a situation. To do this, they may need to do some of the following: ask for and/or provide general factual information, express needs, wants, likes or dislikes, express opinions or complaints, make requests or make suggestions/recommendations.
The style of writing that test takers use depends who they are asked to write to (i.e. the audience) and how well they are supposed to know them. They need to write in a style that is appropriate for their audience and that will help them to achieve their purpose for writing, e.g. writing to a friend (informal) or writing to a manager (semi-formal or formal). Test takers do not need to include any addresses at the head of their letters.
Test takers should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task. They are asked to write at least 150 words and will be penalised if their answer is too short. While test takers will not be penalised for writing more than 150 words, they should remember that a longer Task 1 answer may mean that they have less time to spend on Task 2, which contributes twice as much to the Writing band score.
Test takers should also note that they will be penalised for irrelevance, if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). They will be severely penalised for plagiarism (i.e. copying from another source).
Task 1 responses are assessed on:
- Task achievement
- Coherence and cohesion
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy.