6 common mistakes that will affect your score (i.e. band 7 or 8 or even higher) in General Training module are:
1. The beginning and ending of the letter don't match.
E.g. you start your letter with "Dear Sir," and end your letter with "Good Luck, + your last name"
2. The main purpose of the letter isn't clear.
E.g. Here is a sample question:
You are about to go on vacation for a month. A friend from another town will come and stay in your apartment.
Write a letter to this friend. In your letter:
– explain where your friend can get the key to the apartment
– give your friend some instructions about using your apartment
– recommend some places to go
In your introduction paragraph, if you write "…. Can I ask you to do me a favor to look after my place while I'm on a week long business trip?" Then you are not making a clear or accurate purpose of the letter. Obviously, the purpose is not asking your friend come and look after your place. Your friend should have already agreed to come and stay in your apartment. your purpose is "tell your friend a few things that he'll need to know about staying in your house" (NB. This will affect your score A LOT!!)
3. You didn't cover all of the points.
E.g. In the previous example, if you forgot to mention "some places to go", then you would lose mark on "TA" section. And anyone, whatever their level of English, should avoid this.
4. You wrote too much about one point, and neglected the others.
Have a look at this example. The student was doing a great job, but she would lost mark on this mistake.
5. You didn't separate your paragraphs clearly.
Normally, a letter question contains 3 bullet points/ tasks you need to write. And I suggest that separate each task in one paragraph. Maybe some tasks won't take up much space, but you can still devote a couple of sentences to it. Have a look at the sample provided in previous point.
6. You didn't get the 'tone' right (formal or informal).
This is the most common mistake. If you write to a friend, and think of the reality, we never start the letter with "Dear Sir". So just simply open your letter with "Dear + Your friend's First name", and you can invent a name like "Dear Jeffrey". DO NOT write "Dear XXX"!
If you are going to write a letter to a teacher/tutor, which tone you should choice?