Top Tips for IELTS

Changing your course – a more formal letter for IELTS

This is the next in my series of IELTS letters. This one is a more formal letter as you are writing to someone in authority – the director of your school. As well as giving you a model answer, I also give you some advice on how to structure the letter, choose the right vocabulary and make the letter more formal.

A more formal letter question

You are not happy with the course you are doing at college and would like to change to a different course. Write a letter to the college director requesting to change your course. You should include details about:

  • what course are you doing now
  • why you are not satisfied with that course
  • what course would you like to change to

A sample answer

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to ask whether it is possible to change my course. I am currently studying on a general English programme and I would like to enrol on an academic IELTS course instead.

The principal reason why I would like to change my course is that I do not believe the general English course is relevant to me because it is intended for students who wish to improve their social English. My circumstances are that I require a band 7.0 in order to be accepted on the masters programme at Aston University. Unless I obtain this score by the beginning of the next academic year, I will lose my place on the course and will need to return to my country. This being the case, I believe that it is essential that I get tuition in academic writing and IELTS skills.

I understand that it may be difficult to change my course mid-semester, but this is an urgent priority for me. If it would help, I would be delighted to discuss this with you in person.

Yours sincerely

Khaled Abdullah

 

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Understanding the more formal letter question

You are not happy with the course you are doing at college and would like to change to a different course. Write a letter to the college director requesting to change your course. You should include details about:

  • what course are you doing now
  • why you are not satisfied with that course
  • what course would you like to change to

The focus of the letter

While you must write about each topic in the question, this does not mean that you need to write the same amount about each topic. In this question, I would suggest that you should focus on the reasons why you are not satisfied with your current course.

Think about who you are writing to

This is a semi-formal letter as you are writing to someone you know, but that person is in authority. This means that:

  • your language should be more formal
  • you need to be reasonably polite (it isn’t sensible to be rude about your current course)

Structuring your letter

It is important that you remember to use paragraphs in your letter. The normal structure is that you start any letter by saying why you are writing and you finish it by saying what you expect to happen next. In this case:

paragraph 1: you need to change course (why you are writing)

paragraph 2: try to persuade your college director to let you change course by giving reasons why you want to change course

paragraph 3: ask to set up a meeting to discuss the problem (what you want to happen next)

Topic vocabulary

If you get a question like this about education, you should be happy as you should have lots of words to use. It is also good advice to write about what you know about and so I have chosen to make my model letter about studying IELTS. Take a look at some of the “education” language I used.

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to ask whether it is possible to change my course. I am currently studying on a general English programme and I would like to enrol on an academic IELTS course instead.

The principal reason why I would like to change my course is that I do not believe the general English course is relevant to me because it is intended for students who wish to improve their social English. My circumstances are that I require a band 7.0 in order to be accepted on the masters programme at Aston University. Unless I obtain this score by the beginning of the next academic year, I will lose my place on the course and will need to return to my country. This being the case, I believe that it is essential that I get tuition in academic writing and IELTS skills.

I understand that it may be difficult to change my course mid-semester, but this is an urgent priority for me. If it would help, I would be delighted to discuss this with you in person.

Yours sincerely

Khaled Abdullah

Formal/politeness language

Take a look at the language I have highlighted in blue and then read my notes below. A lot of this language you can borrow for your own letters.

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to ask whether it is possible to change my course. I am currently studying on a general English programme and I would like to enrol on an academic IELTS course instead.

The principal reason why I would like to change my course is that I do not believe the general English course is relevant to me because it is intended for students who wish to improve their social English. My circumstances are that I require a band 7.0 in order to be accepted on the masters programme at Aston University. Unless I obtain this score by the beginning of the next academic year, I will lose my place on the course and will need to return to my country. This being the case, I believe that it is essential that I get tuition in academic writing and IELTS skills.

I understand that it may be difficult to change my course mid-semester, but this is an urgent priority for me. If it would help, I would be delighted to discuss this with you in person.

Yours sincerely

Khaled Abdullah

Notes

I am writing to  – this is a standard formula you can use to start most more formal letters: it shows why you are writing

I would like to – this is a “politeness” phrase”. Be very careful about using “I want” in English as it can be too direct/rude in more formal writing

The principle reason why I would like to – This is a more formal way of saying “I want to do this because”

I do not believe – Note how in this letter I do not use short forms like “don’t”. This is normal in more formal letters.

in order to be accepted – This is a more formal way of saying “To get on”

Unless I obtain this score – One word you should try and avoid using too much in more formal writing is “get”. Here in a less formal letter I might write “If I don’t get this score”

I believe that it is essential – Another word that you should be careful about using in more formal/polite letters is “must”. It can be a very strong word in English and used wrongly quite rude. Here I use “it is essential” instead.

I understand that it may be difficult – One tip here is to think about the person you are writing to. It is probably the case that the course director may not want to change your course. One way to persuade him/her is to say you know that it is a big favour you’re asking.

If it would help, I would be delighted to discuss this with you in person – this is a nice phrase you can borrow and use in other formal letters. 

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25 Responses to Changing your course – a more formal letter for IELTS

  1. enas edward September 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    many thanks the comments (notes) after the letter are very useful

  2. Mandy September 2, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    Thanks alot for this post very helpful, it clears the main concept:)

  3. Arulselvan April 3, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    Thank you for explanation.

  4. Emma August 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I have a question about one sentence in the sample letter.
    ‘ I believe that it is essential that I get tuition in academic writing and IELTS skills.’
    Do you mean by getting the tuition fee for the course?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. Jude August 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    @Emma – the ‘tuition’ in the sentence is referring to classes or tutorial.

    In some countries like the Philippines, when you use the word ‘tuition’ it’s automatically referring to school payment, however, in other countries like the UK, it means classes or tutorial.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Abbas April 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I found this site very helpfull

  7. lungisa August 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    this letter is very help fool

  8. hamid reza(iran) September 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    this site is very helpful for people who want to participate in ielts exam

  9. farshid September 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    the best the best and the best website …………….. i love it …. you made me hopeful.. thanks a lottttt

  10. james October 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    thanks..i guess i know what ihave to do now

  11. Anonymous April 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    thank you po.

  12. Anonymous September 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    thanks alot

  13. zainab goje September 11, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    The best website tnx alot

  14. monica September 12, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    I need help on writing an application letter; requesting changing of course (education to management administration and technology) tge reason is i have been declined for education due to low matric points

    • Dominic Cole September 12, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      I’ll see if I can get one written for you.

  15. steph October 28, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Thanks. This is indeed helpful.

  16. Edima November 4, 2015 at 4:54 am #

    Nice, thank’s God Bless you☝

  17. Anonymous January 27, 2016 at 6:36 am #

    thanks a lot it helps me in my teaching IELTS writing general! best website by a mile! KUDOS!

  18. Anonymous January 29, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    I want to write a letter of changing of course from soil science to home science, in the same institution, how do I write such.

    • Dominic Cole September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Use this as a model but only as a model – it is designed for exam English which is not always the same as real life!

  19. Anonymous May 31, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    Thank you

  20. jack kindi September 1, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    Thanks alot it helped me, kind regards

  21. Lilian September 20, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    I want to change my course from BA Ed to BED PM,
    Would you help me to get a letter.
    Thanks

    • Dominic Cole September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      I’ll repeat my comment from below:

      Use this as a model but only as a model – it is designed for exam English which is not always the same as real life!

  22. Opara Iheanacho April 8, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    I have just been offered admission to read MSC in Education Management and planning but the school is now offering MSC in Accounting Education which they were not offering when we applied for the programme.

    I want to change to MSC Accounting education which was my course in my first degree.

    How do i go about it sir?

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