IELTS Apology Letter for General Training

It is common to be asked to write an IELTS apology letter for General Training writing task 1. You might be given a formal or informal apology letter. You must use the correct style and tone to get a high band score. Always decide what type of letter you must write before you start planning. Students taking the academic test, do not write letters for task 1 writing.

Below you will find:

  • an informal apology letter: question and model answer
  • a formal apology letter: question and model answer
  • link to essential tips for IELTS letter writing

Note the difference in tone, content and also language between formal and informal apology letters.

IELTS Informal Apology Letter

This letter was in the IELTS test, October 2017.

Write a letter to a friend. You have borrowed something from your friend and it got damaged.

  1. Apologize for damaging the product
  2. Explain what happened
  3. Say how are you going to fix the issue


IELTS Model Answer Apology Letter – Informal

Dear Emily,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write to you but at last I put pen to paper to explain why I haven’t returned that DIY book I borrowed from you.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling so guilty that I delayed writing to you. I have to own up that I damaged the book accidentally. I’m so very sorry. I know how important that book is to you as it was passed down from your late father.

What happened is that I had been reading up on the chapter about DIY plumbing when I knocked over my cup of coffee which splashed all over the book. Most of the stain is on the pages that were open at the time.

I’ve sent the book away to be repaired. I didn’t realise that was even possible until I researched it. Anyway, it should be as good as new when I get it back next week and then I’ll send it on to you.

Again, I’m so sorry for the delay in telling you. I hope you can forgive me.

Best wishes


IELTS Formal Apology Letter

Write a letter to your boss apologising for the recent meeting you missed at work.

  1. Apologise for missing the meeting.
  2. Explain what happened.
  3. Say what you will do to compensate.


Model Answer for an IELTS Formal Apology Letter

Dear Mr Drummond,

I am writing to apologise for the meeting I missed on October 20th about development plans for the company.

I am sincerely sorry for not being able to attend this meeting. I am aware of the importance of the meeting but, unfortunately, my absence was unavoidable.

The reason for not attending this meeting was that I had a car accident on the way to work that day. Although the accident was not serious, I was taken to hospital for a check up and not allowed to leave until I had been given the all clear from a doctor.

I understand how crucial this meeting was and, therefore, I have asked one of my colleagues, Sandra Brown, to review the meeting with me after work today. We will go over all development plans and also people’s roles and responsibilities. By the end of today, I will be up to speed with all plans.

I hope you will forgive my absence and be assured of my commitment to this company and its future.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Brollend

Useful Link

You can find essential tips for IELTS letters on this page: IELTS GT Letter Writing Tips


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  1. I want to sincerely appreciate your effort for people like us, doing all of these without you asking for anything in return. However, my question in on the tone to use to write letters. should the tone be according to formal, informal and semi-formal that you mentioned above?

    • The tone changes depending on who you are writing to and the purpose of the letter. This means is depends on the letter being formal, informal (or on rare occasions semi-formal, which means a letter to close personal friend based on a serious topic such as work).

  2. Do you need to skip a line between signing off and name, for example

    Yours truly,


    Yours truly,

  3. This is a general question with respect to the writing test. Can we use running or cursive handwriting for the writing test?

  4. Hello Liz,
    Is it necessary to have equal number of lines in each paragraph? someone said it should be done that way…

  5. Hello Liz,

    Request you to please guide me, if the below sentence is grammatically correct;
    ‘Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.’

    Awaiting your response.

    Best Regards,

  6. Chinna Philippa says:

    Hello liz, i noticed you used ‘this’ instead of ‘the’ in formal letter. Pls explain. Thank you

    • “this” is used for referencing. It is part of English grammar. Please look in a grammar book. I do not provide English language lessons.

  7. Kanwarinder Rana says:

    Hi Liz, I have been going through almost all your educational videos, therefore my query for this Task 1 video is that I’m aware of 4-5 paragraphs in Task 2 but as per your examples, there are many paragraphs in Task 1 as well, can you enlighten me on this as I’ve been advised to only have three paragraphs, Intro- covering all the asked parameters in the second one – Ending.
    Need your expertise on the above-stated matter.


  8. Hi Liz,
    in letters related to complain to airlines, where we have to mention our name, flight no. and contact no.

  9. hi liz I notice that you used S and not Z when you spell some words..will you be penalized if you used American spelling of words in the writing task?

    • “s” is UK spelling and “z” is US spelling. You can choose which one you like. But choose only one – don’t mix them.

  10. Hi Teacher Liz,
    I have practiced few letters from your page “Letter Writing Essential Tips” and I want to share my answers with everyone.
    Where can I post my letter samples for students help?


  11. Dear Liz, Thanks for such wonderful tips and practice matters provided. I have a very basic question about starting the next paragraph in writing tasks. Should we start new paragraph from the immediate next line or leave space of one line ?

  12. Dear Liz,
    Could you please explain the difference between semi-formal and formal letters? I’m not sure about the difference between those two

    • Formal letters are about formal subjects and to someone you do not have a personal relationship with. Do you understand the term “personal relationship”? This means you chat to them about your dreams, your problems and share your family life with them – such as a good friend. Although you know a boss, you do not have a personal relationship with them.
      A semi-formal letter is to someone you have a personal relationship with, such as a good friend, about a serious topic, like a job. It is not about a party or a personal topic.

  13. Dear Liz,
    Today was my speaking test, despite knowing the difference between natural tourism sites and built tourism sites, I gave my answer regarding the built tourism sites and how they got effected with visitors.
    P.S. The question was something like, ‘Does natural sites get effected with a number of visitors every year?’

    Is it a major mistake ?? :,(((

  14. Hello Liz,
    what if instead of I, we use Undersigned in the formal letter?, does that make any sense or its better to go ahead with I itself

  15. Hi Liz,
    Can we use a word ‘ To recapitulate’ in stead of ‘to conclude’in assays writing task 2?
    Kindly confirm.

  16. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Also aren’t there suppose to be headline on a formal letter?

  17. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Does that mean it won’t be necessary for me to put address for ielts purpose when writing my task 1?
    Plus thanks for thanks for answering my previous question. You are so good to have around as a companion. Soon I will be one of your bloggers that will make you proud.

    • There is no address written on IELTS letter. You only write an address inside the body if the instructions ask you to.

  18. Thanks Liz. Such a simple example of formal / informal letter you have given beautifully, even laymen can understand.

    My question is to you is, at the time of test if we write this type of letter in simple form whether it’s formal or informal. What band we can expect from the examiner?

    • I do not understand “simple form”. Your layout and paragraphs should be simple and easy to understand in order to get a high score. Ideas should be easy to understand and relevant to the task for a high score. Sentences should be complex (in IELTS criteria for complex, this means not simple) and vocabulary showing a range with less common items. So, the letters above fulfil the marking criteria of higher band scores for IELTS.

  19. Thanks Liz. Your lessons are very helpful

  20. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Is there a specific number of words I suppose to write in either forms of letters above?

    • As with all writing task 1, you must write over 150 words. How can you not know the rules of IELTS? Surely, you have practised real IELTS tests at home.

  21. Thanks for sharing Liz! Really helpful!

  22. Khanhnguyen says:

    Very Good lesson. Thank you for your helf .

  23. Hello Liz. Thanks for the great job you are doing. I did my speaking test but I was down with cough which I informed the examiner before the test. Subsequently I discovered that the cough really affected the flow of my speaking and it made my pronunciation thick. Hope this will not affect my score ?

  24. Aneeta Philip says:

    I have a slight difficulty with analysing semi formal and formal letters.

    • Informal letters are to people who you know closely as a personal friend – so you write in that style. Formal letters are to people who might know (not closely – possibly through work only) or don’t know and the content is formal.

  25. Pawan Saini says:

    Hi Liz, this question had appeared inmy exam on oct 14 (about borrowing something from a friend which got broken and next steps). At first i apologized to my friend. I had written about a “party glasses” which got broken on dance floor as someone pushed me and it fell under someone’s feet. As they were imported one, i could help my friend getting the same one as my elder brother was supposed to return from abroad or i could pay in cash. He has both the choices. I had written that story. Let me know if it is good to get score. My result is awaited on this Friday Nov 3.

  26. Dear Liz,
    I am writing to ask you how I can regiter to your lecture

    • I do not offer lectures. I have tips and practice exercises on this site which you can use for free at this month. Go to the main pages accessed through the red bar at the top of the website.

  27. Hi Liz,

    How to identify whether to write a formal letter or informal letter? Is it mentioned in the question specifically?

    • You write formally to someone you have a formal relationship with. You write informally to someone you have an informal relationship with. It isn’t difficult. It is common sense and “no, IELTS do not tell you which one to write”.

  28. Amani Flaifl says:

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you so much, you are great, these letters and so easily to learn and so simple to remember and to study, I am following up all your emails and free lessons and it’s really useful, thank you again for your time and effort that you spent.


  29. how to differentiate whether we need to write formal apology letter or informal?

  30. Thanks a million Lize for useful letter writting samples and modele answers.

  31. Good morning Liz, I hope you are well.
    I just read the formal apology letter. I do not understand the last bullet point about compensating the company if you are late for a meeting. Is it not mentioned in the example letter. Please clarify this for me.
    Kindest regards,

    • You need to be very careful with vocabulary. To compensate a company means money. But this is not compensating a company. It is about compensating missing a meeting – the meaning is “how will you catch up” / “how will you make up for missing the meeting”. Don’t confuse the different meanings of compensate which depend on the context.

  32. Thanks Liz…
    your lessons are very helpful..
    just one question the informal letter above , i did not understand “should be a good as new” it – as good as

    thanks again

  33. SILPA THOMAS says:

    Thanks a lot

  34. Woooooow….many many thanks
    It was my request…you are great
    God bless you

  35. Hi Liz,

    I’m a little confused reading the informal letter, as there are many contractions in it. Is it ok to use contractions in a letter for the exam?
    I was told by a teacher not to use any contractions while writing, bit use them while speaking.

    • Be careful following rules. Contractions are informal and can only be used for informal writing. You will see that contractions are used for the informal letter above but they are not used for the formal letter above. If you fail to use contractions in an informal letter, you will lose marks.

  36. Yasmin Nour says:

    Pleeeeease liz answer because me because I am very worried 😢 in my speaking test the card was about businesses person and I talked about famous heart surgeon ? Is it wrong ? 😢😢😢

  37. Thank you Liz for sharing this.. you always come up with extraordinary lessons and tips.

  38. Thanks so much dear for your work and time and you are always giving us the free materials,techniques and traits that are highly appeticaited .
    Really,I always go through with your all statagies which you uploaded and its very conducive and helpful. God bless you. Asma khan

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