Today, we’re going to look at a band 9 letter about sport. I recently wrote this for one of the students using my writing correction service and I wanted to share it with others because it contains some useful ideas.

Question Prompt

In IELTS general writing task 1, you will be given a prompt. It will tell you what you should put in a letter.

Here’s our prompt for today:

Your English-speaking friend who lives in your town has asked for your advice about learning a new sport.

Write an email to your friend. In your email

  • recommend a new sport that would be suitable for your friend to learn
  • explain how your friend could learn this sport
  • suggest that you both learn this sport together.

It’s pretty straightforward. You need to write a letter about a sport. Specifically, you must:

  • suggest one sport for your friend to try
  • give some details about it
  • suggest doing the sport together with your friend

What are the pitfalls here?

Well, one of my students mistakenly wrote that her friend had suggested a sport and then gave details. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the question prompt. Always read it carefully!

Finally, this must be an informal letter because it’s written to a friend on an everyday subject.

I wrote a book about IELTS letters! You can get a PDF copy here.

Planning an Answer

For my answer, I will suggest that my friend plays rugby. I will structure my answer like this:

That’s my structure for the letter. Your structure may be completely different, which is fine. However, make sure to include everything you were meant to and adhere to the required tone (formal, semi-formal, or informal).

Picking the Right Language

This is a letter to a friend, which means you need to use informal language. Informal language includes features such as:

  • slang
  • contractions
  • idioms
  • abbreviations
  • few transitional phrases

It is also on the topic of sport, so keep that in mind. A lot of people struggle with this, particularly if they don’t keep up with the world of sports.

It would be useful to pick a sport that you know well because then you’re more likely to be able to use your language accurately. For example, I know nothing about cricket, so I would avoid that! However, if it was your thing, it might be easy to slip in some natural and accurate language.

This letter is also suggestive, so you’ll need to figure out how to make suggestions naturally. For that, we may use words and phrases like:

  • how about…?
  • let’s…
  • maybe we could…
  • do you want to…?
  • i was thinking we could…

By using questions and modals, we can suggest things without being too forceful.

If you’re interested in talking more about sport, then I’ve got a lesson about describing a sportsperson.

Sample Band 9 Answer

Here’s my answer:

Hi James,

I’ve been thinking for a while about what you asked me last month. You said you wanted to lose weight and make friends and that you thought taking up a new sport might be the best thing. Well, how about rugby?

I know that rugby sounds challenging and perhaps even dangerous, but it’s nowhere near as bad as you probably think. In fact, it’s pretty safe. There are loads of touch rugby games around here and you aren’t going to get hurt because there’s no proper tackling. It’s just running about for an hour.

It’s a really fun sport and I’ve been meaning to try it myself. I’ll tell you what. I’ll come along with you if you’re interested. It’ll be a great experience and if we like it then we can try to join a team and make it a regular thing. How does that sound?

Let me know.


Notes on the Answer

I’d like to explain a few things:

  1. “I’ve been thinking for a while about what you asked me…” I started with this because it’s very natural. IELTS candidates have a tendency to begin letters in very strange ways. For example, they might say “Last month, you asked me about a new sport.” Well, would you really tell someone what they already know? It’s strange.
  2. “Well, how about rugby?” This is a question. You may find a strange to include a question when there’s no one to immediately answer, but it still works. It’s a sort of rhetorical question because I go on to explain why we should do this new sport.
  3. I’ve used a lot of casual language here both in a sporting and normal context. This makes it a realistic friendly interaction between people that know each other.
  4. I’ve talked about “touch rugby.” That is like rugby but without proper tackling, so it’s safer. Here’s the Wikipedia page for it.
  5. “I’ll tell you what.” This is a common expression. It might make little sense to a learner but to a native speaker it is quite important. We say it before explaining something and usually trying to convince another person.
  6. “How does that sound?” Another question! It works fine here because it’s expected that the other person would respond in their next letter.