IELTS writing mini course – making alternative arrangements

The next type of letter we are going to address in our series for Part 2 of the mini-course in IELTS General Writing Task 1 involves making alternative arrangements.

This type of IELTS letter requires both a kind and polite tone.

Memorizing some of the functional phrases will help you to do well on the test day. Here are some examples of language functions or reusable phrases and an IELTS letter written by a native speaker:

  • The reason I cannot make it … is because / is that …
  • The main reason why I am unable to attend … is because / is that …
  • One reason why I can’t come… is because / is that …
  • I am not going to be able to attend this time because…but I would like to take a rain check if possible. (* Taking a rain check is an expression which lets the host or inviter know that we would love to attend but simply cannot and we hope to be invited some other time)


  • Introductory sentence


The Introductory sentence in your formal letter is kind in tone. You are asking them to change something for you, so you need to be nice. In this example, you thank your teacher for the assistance and patience shown during the course.

The main language function used in this opening sentence is…

Firstly, I would like to thank you as my teacher for always being so helpful, patient and assisting me during the course thus far.

I would like to thank you for always ___ing….

  • The reason I am writing is to … 
  • I would like to thank you for ______________ing.
  • I appreciate that you took the time to ________________
  • I am grateful for your ____________ing… and that you ___________ed. 


Why Link the Paragraphs in IELTS General Task 1 Writing? 

To maximise your cohesion score in the IELTS marking system.

Let’s look at our example sentence from the letter.

Despite the above, …

The above refers to everything nice you have said in the first paragraph.

… I have had to make a decision about the course going forward.

Going forward contrasts what you have said about the past in the previous paragraph and introduces the idea of a new plan for the future.

By linking the paragraphs, you can get a high cohesion score. Coherence is a significant part of the marks in IELTS general task 1 writing.

A reusable phrase to make an alternative arrangement in an IELTS letter

I understand that A and if possible I would like to B

Some examples might be…

In a letter rearranging a hotel room:

I understand that the hotel has a room with a beach view and if possible I would like to upgrade my stay.

In a letter rearranging a gym membership

I understand that the gym has an off-peak membership and if possible I would like to switch to this plan.

In a letter changing the selection of some furniture.

I understand that the blue fabric is now available and if possible I would like to change my order.

The whole IELTS letter is below:

Write a letter to your teacher.  In it you should say:

  •         Thank them
  •         Tell them you can no longer attend the course.
  •         State the alternative arrangements you would like to make.

Start Dear ____________________

Dear Joe Brown,

Firstly, I would like to thank you as my teacher for always being so helpful, patient and assisting me during the course thus far. Attending your course has not only improved my listening skills but inspired me to take further counselling courses with a view to making a career change once I am qualified.

Despite the above, I have had to make a decision about the course going forward.  During the day, I work for the Luxury Real Estate Agency.  I have recently been asked to deputize for my manager, given a set of office keys and asked to lock up after the end of the day on weekday nights. Although this is only a temporary arrangement, it has made it impossible to attend your Tuesday evening classes for the crucial last four weeks of term before our assessment.

I understand that the course also runs online at the weekends and If possible, I would like to continue my course online; however, as you know, my group of classmates have developed a close bond, and I would very much like to rejoin the face-to-face class on Tuesday evenings next term.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Birth

Back to sample apology letter [blog 1]


More IELTS general task 1 examples:

a band 9 IELTS complaint letter [blog 3]

A thank you letter for IELTS band 9 [blog 4]


If you are enjoying learning how to write IELTS letters, book a class to have your writing assessed with me, Kate. I’m a professional online IELTS tutor.

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