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DOs and DONTs

DOs:
Before you start writing... read others. Make use of every text
that you find interesting, note out words and expressions that you like or find useful.
Even if you know them. Words and expressions have a mysterious tendency to slip your
mind the moment you need them most. Sometimes it is good to copy the whole sentence
in which an expression you know from different context appears.
Have a list of your favourite expressions - the ones you are
entirely sure of as far as their correctness is concerned, and which you will always
remember. It is better to put down something less lofty but correct than wrestle under
time pressure with your own memory, wondering how this 'stupid thing went'.
Always keep in mind who your target reader is. Even if you
know that your 'letter to a friend' will be read by an examiner... write to a friend. If you
have problems with determining the potential addressee of your writing, assume that he
or she is an educated person in his/her thirties. But usually it is indicated in the task.
Make your writing interesting. Put yourself in the reader's shoes.
Would you fancy reading boring stuff?
Use linking words to form paragraphs and join your
ideas in a logical way. They make reading easier, which counts a lot if your piece is
longer.
Be careful with pronouns. They are tiny and look innocent, but can
cause a lot of commotion.
DO write! As much and as often as you can. Make yourself mock tests - with
time restrictions and word limits. Do not worry if you forget some words and get stuck -
better now (when you still have the chance to look these words up in a dictionary), than
during the exam.
DONTs:
Do not panic!
Do not forget that you are writing, not speaking. What
would go in a friendly chat, will not work with writing.
Do not forget that you write to communicate something, not to practice
caligraphy. If certain fragments of your essay do not convey any relevant message, cut
them out. Unnecessary wordiness shows that you have problems
with controlling your language.
Do not ask your reader to read your mind. You are the one who knows. If you do
not mention something in your essay, it is not there.
Avoid line-lifting. It means that you should not repeat the sentences used
to set the task.
Do not write very long sentences, unless you are perfectly sure
how to punctuate them.
Do not try to impress your reader with vocabulary. Do not use words
you don't know.
Do not scribble! If your reader struggles to decipher your handwriting, do not
expect him or her to focus on the content.
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INFORMAL LETTER
An informal letter or email is usually between people who know each other fairly well. In addition
to giving news, they are often used to request information, congratulate people, give advice and
ask questions. There are a lot of similarities between informal letters and conversation. Informal
letters ask a lot of questions, show interest and enthusiasm, and imagine a lot of shared
information.

In many exam questions, you will be told what to include in your reply. Make sure that your
reply answers any questions that you were asked in the task and takes into
account any additional information that you have been told to mention. It is
important that you include these in order to get a good grade.

How to write informal letters or emails


Salutation or Greeting
Start with Dear followed by the first name of the person to whom you are writing. In
emails, you can also start with Hi (and the person's name). Dear Ben, or Hi Ben,
(Don't forget to use only the first name of the person you are writing to and not Dear Mr John,
which is never used, or Dear Mr John Brown, which sounds too formal.)
Informal letters sometimes have a comma after the person's name, and the letter starts
on the line below. The important thing is to be consistent with the style that you choose to use
(so if you use a comma after the person's name at the start of the letter, use a comma after the
closing statement at the end).
Body
Openings

When writing an informal letter, you are usually replying to another letter. You would normally
start with a greeting, then acknowledge the letter to which you are
replying. It is often a good idea to acknowledge some key information given in the original
letter too. You can also make a comment on your own reply.

Useful phrases for the opening

How are you? / How have the family been? / I hope you are well.
Thank you / Many thanks for your (recent/last) letter / postcard.
It was good / nice / great to hear from you again.
I was so surprised to hear that...
Im sorry I havent written / haven't been in touch for such a long time.
Its ages since Ive heard from you. I hope you're well / you and your family are well.
How are things? / How are you? / Hows it going?
Other useful phrases

Referring to news

Great news about Glad to hear that Sorry to hear about


Giving news

Listen, did I tell you about ? Youll never believe what


Oh, and another thing This is just to let you know that
I thought you might be interested to hear about / know that
By the way, have you heard about / did you know that ?
Apologies

Im writing to apologise for missing your party but Im afraid I was with flu.
Im really sorry that I forgot to send you a birthday card but I was busy with my new job.
Invitations

Im / Were having a party on Friday 19th and I / we hope youll be able to come.
Would you like to come / go to see Room With a View with me at the weekend?
I was wondering if youd like to go to the theatre / come on holiday with us.
Could you let me / us know if you can come / youd like to join us?
Thank you very much for your invitation. Id love to come.
Thank you for asking / inviting me to but Im afraid I wont be able to
Requests

Im writing to ask for your help / you (if you could do me) a favour.
I wonder if / I was wondering if you could help me / do me a favour.
I hope you dont mind me asking but could you (possibly) ?
Id be very / really / terribly grateful if you could
Thank you / Congratulations / Good Luck

Im writing to thank you for your hospitality / the wonderful present.


It was so kind of you to invite me to stay with you.
I really appreciated all your help / advice.
Congratulations on passing your exams / your excellent exam results!
I wish you good luck / Good luck in / with your exams / your driving test / your interview.
Dont worry, Im sure youll do well / pass.
Do be on time, wont you, and dont forget to
Making suggestions and recommendations

Why dont you ? / Maybe you could ? / How about ?


You cant leave New York without (...doing sth)
Im sure you will enjoy (...doing sth). If you like, we can
Do visit ... / Dont forget to ...
Closing
The end of your letter is as important as the beginning. There are some standard ways of
finishing an informal letter or email.

Give a reason why you're ending the letter: Anyway, I must go and get on
with my work! / I guess it's time I got on with that studying I've been avoiding.
Send greetings and/or make reference for future contact: Give my
love / regards to... / Say hello to... / Anyway, don't forget to let me know the dates of the party. /
I'll try and phone you at the weekend to check the times. / We must try and meet up soon. / I
can't wait to hear from you / Look forward to seeing you again / Hope to hear from you soon /
See you soon / Write soon
Closing statement such as Love, Lots of love, All the best, Take care, Best
wishes, should be written on a new line. If you used a comma after the opening greeting,
use a comma here too.
Signing of: Your first name then follows on another new line.

Other things to consider

Range: It is important that you use grammatical expressions and vocabulary appropriate to the
level of the exam. Even if there are no mistakes in your writing, you will not be able to get a
good grade if you use only the language and vocabulary that you learnt at elementary level.
Even in informal writing, there is a good range of language you can use (conditional sentences,
a range of perfect and continuous tenses, indirect questions...)

Informal language, including phrasal verbs, informal vocabulary ("I guess you loved the
pics"), contractions, question tags.
Simpler sentence structure: Ill be late for the party. Its because of my French
exam.

Connectors: All good writing makes good use of connectors. However, many of the
connectors you have learnt for other styles of writing are inappropriate in an informal letter or
email. For informal writing, you need to use some of the connectors that are more
specific to spoken language.

To introduce a topic: Well, you'll never guess who I bumped into yesterday. / I
know how much you love tennis, so I've got us some tickets to Wimbledon. / By the way, did
you know that John's got a new job?
To go back to a previous topic: Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I really wasn't
very happy there. / Now where was I? Oh yes, I nearly forgot, Mary asked me tell you about the
cinema.
To introduce surprising or bad news: Actually, he came to the party after
all. / I'm really sorry but I can't make it. / To tell you the truth, I don't really like sports much.
To summarise what you've already said: Anyway, we had a really nice time
in the end. / Well, to cut a long story short, we didn't get there on time.

Model questions and answers


Informal email/letter 1 - Model question
TASK

You have received this email from an English-speaking boy called Simon.

Hello,
I would like to get to know someone from your country and a friend has told me
that you would like to practise your English. Perhaps we could email each other.
Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your family? Could you suggest how we
might meet sometime in the future?
Thanks,
Simon

Write your email in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Informal email/letter 1 - Model answer


Hello Simon,

I'm glad you're interested in my country. As your friend said, I'd like us to email each other to
help me improve your English.

Let me start by telling you a bit about myself and my family. My name's Ivo and I live in Kutna
Hora, which is about 45 minutes from Prague by car. I used to work for a medical company but
now I'm learning to be a salesperson. In the future I want a job where I can travel for my work.
I've already been to a few places in Europe but I've never been to an English-speaking country.

I live at home with my parents, which is convenient, as I don't have to do much housework and
my meals are cooked for me. My younger brother is studying at university. Although he is four
years younger than me, we get on quite well. We both enjoy snowboarding and music.

What about you? Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? It would be great if you could
come over one day and we could fix up a meeting. Why don't you let me know your plans?

Anyway, I must go and get on with my work! Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
Ivo

(+/- 190 words)

Informal email/letter 2 - Model question


TASK

You have received this email from your English-speaking friend, Jean.

I hear you organised a surprise birthday party for your mother. I'd love to hear
about it. What kind of party did you organise? Who did you invite? How did it go? Do
tell me.
Love,
Jean

Write your email in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Note: The following model answer includes some notes to help

Informal email/letter 2 - Model answer


Open with an informal greeting
Hi Jean,
Start your reply by referring to the sender's email/letter.
Good to hear form you again. I hope you're still enjoying your job.
Give reason for replying
I'm glad you asked me about the party I planned for my mother's birthday. Well, I have to say it
was a fantastic success. I told my mother we were taking her out for a quiet meal at a local
restaurant with just the family, but in fact I'd(1) hired a large room in a hotel and invited all her old
friends!(2)
Start a new paragraph as the topic has changed slightly.
Use an informal linking word/phrase
Anyway, I picked my mother up and told her I'd changed my mind. We were going to have a
meal in a hotel. You should have seen her face when she walked into the room and everyone
cheered! She just couldn't believe it and burst into tear (3). Then the party got going and it didn't
finish until four in the morning. We were absolutely exhausted, but my mother had had a
wonderful time.
When you close, make an excuse to finish.
Must dash now - I've got to go to college. Hope to hear from you (4).
Make sure you finish with an informal phrase
Love,
Tania

(1) Use contractions


(2) Use some exclamation marks (but not too many) to express emotion.
(3) Use a range of appropriate vocabulary and informal expressions
(4) Short sentences are acceptable
(+/- 150 words)

Semi-formal email/letter 3 - Model question


TASK

Your recently helped organise a college ski trip and you have received this email from a parent
of one of the students who went.
I understand you were one of the organisers of our son's ski trip. I have to say my
husband and I were extremely dissatisfied with the arrangements. My son has
informed us that the ski slopes were poor, the lessons were fewer than promised
and the accommodation was inadequate.
Can you please give us a satisfactory explanation?
Yours sincerely,
Nora White

Write your email in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Note: As you are writing to a parent the register of this letter should be semi-formal, which
is characterized by:

the use of less colloquial language - e.g. Thank you very much for your letter (instead
of: Thanks a million for your letter.)
less frequent use of short forms, phrasal verbs and idioms - e.g. I am writing to request
information about... (instead of: I thought I'd drop you a line to ask about...)
a polite, respectful tone - e.g. I was wondering if you had ... (instead of: Do you have...)
Semi-formal email/letter 3 - Model answer
Dear Mrs White,

First, let me apologize for any disappointment your son experienced on our ski trip. It is true that
there were several concerns. Since we had been led to believe by the company that there would
be sufficiente slopes for both beginners and advanced skiers, we were extremely upset when
this turned out not to be the case. It was also unfortunate that lack of snow meant that artificial
snow had to be used istead.

As for the question of lessons, if you look at the letter we sent you, you will see that only five
one-hour ski-lessons were included in the price and that extra hours would have to be paid
separately.l

In relation to accommodation, I am not quite sure what you are referring to. I know that in one
room there were not enough beds but this was not the case in your son's room.

We would like to assure you that we take all complaints seriously. We have already decided that
next year we will change the company and the location for our trip and we hop that your son will
consider joining us again.

Yours sincerely,

Waylon Smithers
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ESSAY

Final exam - essay


For your convenience you may want to download a PDF version of this article
FCE Essay - [pdf]

ESSAY
AN ESSAY is always written for the teacher. It should answer the question given
by addressing both content points and providing a new content
point of the writers own.

The essay should be well organised, with an introduction and


an appropriate conclusion and should be written in an appropriate
register and tone.

While it is possible to argue only one point of view (i.e. either agreeing or disagreeing
on a topic) as long as you bear in mind the other point of view and back up your
points, it is probably easier to have a balanced discussion
comparing advantages and disadvantages,
or ideas for and against a topic.

Read the rubric, essay question and prompts very carefully in order to
understand what you are expected to do. This is vital!
It is important to keep the focus of the topic question and that all
your ideas and opinions are relevant to the question.
Support your opinions with reasons and examples.
Think of a third idea of your own in addition to the two given
prompts. If any of the three essay prompts is missed out, then the target
reader will not be fully informed and the candidate will be penalised.
Ideas need to be expressed in a clear an logical way, and should be well
organised and coherent. It is advisable to use up to 5 paragraphs:
1. Introduction
2. Prompt 1 development + reason(s)/example(s)
3. Prompt 2 development + reason(s)/example(s)
4. Prompt 3 development + reason(s)/example(s)
5. Conclusion (you may include your opinion here)
Varying the length of the sentences, using direct and indirect questions and using
a variety of structures and vocabulary may all help to communicate ideas more
effectively.
The correct use of linking words and phrases (e.g. but, so,
however, on the other hand, etc.) and the appropriate use of cohesive
devices (e.g. using pronouns for referencing) is especially important in essays.
Hints
[PLANNING]
- Use the task input to help you plan but try to avoid copying phrases
from the input in Part 1. Use your own words.
[INTRODUCTION and CONCLUSION]
- Efective introductory and concluding paragraphs - In the
introduction, state the topic clearly, give a brief outline of the issue, saying why it is
important or why people have different opinions about it.
- DO NOT express your opinion at the beginning of your essay (develop you
essay in such a way that it guides the reader to the conclusion you draw).
- DO give your opinion in the final paragraph.
[SECOND and THIRD PARAGRAPHS]
- Structure your argument. - Each new paragraph has one main idea, stated
in a topic sentence.
- Include relevant details to support the main idea: these might include examples,
rhetorical questions (do no overdo it), controversial or surprising statements... If you
include a drawback, give a possible solution, too.
[GENERAL]
- DO use a relatively formal register and an objective tone. Do not be too
emotional.
- Remember to use linking adverbials to organise your ideas and to make
it easy for the reader to follow your argument.
- In the exam, allow yourself time to check your grammar, spelling and
punctuation thoroughly.

Linking words and phrases


Present your ideas clearly. Use connectors to link your ideas
Make sure you know how to use connectors appropriately (register,
punctuation...). If you have any doubts, you should use a good
dictionary to check.

To express personal opinions: In my opinion, I believe (that) / I feel


(that) / it seems to me / in my view /as I see it / I think / personally
To show purpose: to / in order to / so as to / so that
To list ideas: Firstly / secondly / finally / In the first place / Lastly
To contrast ideas: However / although / in contrast / whereas / but /
nevertheless / in spite of / despite
To describe a cause: Because / since / as / due to
To show a sequence: First of all / then / after that / eventually / in the
end / finally
To add information: In addition / moreover / what is more / besides /
too / furthermore / and
To describe a consequence: Consequently / as a result / therefore / so
/ thus / for this reason / that is why
To conclude the topic: In conclusion / to sum up / in short / all in all

Model questions and answers


Essay 1 - Model question
TASK

In your English class, you have been talking about the subject of
cultural heritage. Now your English teacher has asked you to write an
essay.

Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of
view.
Is is a good thing that countries spend a lot of money on their
heritage?

Notes

Write about:
1. preserving the past
2. investing in the future
3. ________ (your own idea)

Write your essay in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Essay 1 - Model answer


Most countries spend large sums of money protecting their national heritage. However,
there is strong argument that we should look forwards and not backwards, spending less
money on preserving the past and more on securing our future.

On the one hand, it is important that we remember our heritage. Once it is lost, it is lost
forever. Caring for important monuments helps with this. It also attracts tourists, which
has an economic benefit for everyone.

On the other hand, governments spend a lot of money on museums and keeping historic
sites in good condition when poor people need houses to live in and businesses need
better roads for transporting their goods.

Another argument is that by making heritage sites attractive for tourists -for example, by
putting on entertainment - we give a very untrue picture of the past and sometimes
damage the local environment.

To conclude, while there are strong arguments for not spending too much on preserving
the past, I believe it is important to protect the most famous sites for the future
generations but it is not realistic to try and save everything. We need to invest in the
future too.

(+/- 190 words)

Essay 2 - Model question


TASK

In your English class, you have recently had a discussion about


science and young people. Now your English teacher has asked you
to write an essay.

Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of
view.

Science is very important in the 21st century. How do you


think it could be made more appealing to young people?
Notes

Write about:
1. television programmes
2. interactive museums
3. ________ (your own idea)

Write your essay in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Essay 2 - Model answer


Although young people love gadgets and technology, some see science as uninteresting
and 'uncool'. Over time, the number of young people, particularly girls, pursuing science
and technology studies and careers has dropped.

One way in which science could be made more attractive would be to have lively
television programmes presented by celebrities, with subjects which were relevant to the
experience of the young. We live in a celebrity culture and children identify with well-
known young people.

Another idea would be to set up interactive science museums in every town, where
parents could take their children. It is much better to teach children the principles of
science through hands-on experiments than to lecture them in a classroom.

Of course, there would be more incentives if the average scientit were better paid and
young people were made aware of the range of jobs available. A lot of people are put off
a scientific career because they think it means working in a badly paid job in a boring
laboratory.

Whichever way we choose, it is vital that more young people are attracted to science,
since society's prosperity depends largely on continuous scientific progress.

(+/- 190 words)

Essay 3 - Model question


TASK

In your English class, you have recently had a discussion about


relationships. Now your teacher has asked you to write an essay.

Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of
view.

Is it better to live alone or with someone else?

Notes

Write about:
1. independence
2. money
3. ________ (your own idea)

Write your essay in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Essay 3 - Model answer


Nowadays more people are deciding to live by themselves. Some people claim this is
more enjoyable and in young people it develops a sense of responsibility, whereas
others disagree.

The main advantage of living alone is that there is nobody to tell you what to do, so you
can live your life in your own way. What is more, you can organise or decorate your
house as you want. There is no one else to disagree with.

On the other hand, it can be quite lonely for some people. By nature, we are social
animals. Secondly, it is more expensive because you have to pay all the rent and bills
yourself, so you have less money to enjoy yourself. Last but not least, it can be quite
hard to find a nice flat for one person, so you might not be able to live in the best area.

To sum up, there are strong arguments on both sides. In conclusion, I believe that living
alone is better for older people who have more money and like privacy but not for
young people who need to share the costs.

(+/- 180 words)

Essay 4 - Model question


TASK

In your English class you have been talking about happiness. Now
your English teacher has asked you to write an essay.

Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of
view.

Whether you are happy or not depends on the personality you


are born with. Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. money
2. health
3. ________ (your own idea)

Write your essay in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Essay 4 - Model answer


Some people claim they are naturally cheerful. However, in my view, how we lead our
lives is the main reason we are either happy or unhappy.

Take money, for example. Money doesn't automatically make us happy. In fact, it makes
some people very unhappy because they are frightened of losing what they've got. On
the other hand, if we're not greedy and don't spend it foolishly, it can reduce stress and
give us security.

Then consider health. If we eat badly, get too little sleep and don't exercise, our health
will decline and make us miserable. Eating well and going for lovely long walks in the
countryside can make us feel better generally.

The third thing I think is important is to have a positive outlook on life. We should all
enluy things like music and being with our friends. At the same time, it's important to
spend time alone and live as simply as possible, which is not easy in the 21st century!

All these make a big difference to our happiness, no matter what our natural
temperament.

(+/- 170 words)


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Final exam - article


For your convenience you may want to download a PDF version of this article
FCE Article - [pdf]

Article
AN ARTICLE is usually written for an English-language magazine or newsletter, and
the reader is assumed to have similar interests to the writer. The main purpose is
to inform, interest and engage the reader, so there should be some opinion
or comment.

Hints
Add a short title to catch the reader's attention. Make sure it is relevant. You
can use the one in the question or invent one of your own.
Introduce the topic. Although you don't know the readers personally, you
can address them directly and ask them a rhetorical question. It helps to involve them.
Divide your report into sections according to the input. One or two
paragraphs will do.
Develop the ideas in the task input. Remember .
Use a personal or more neutral style, but not
formal (you might use contractions).
It is important that you show a range of structures.
Give examples where appropriate to bring your article to life
Use humour where appropriate.
Give a conclusion and summary in the last paragraph.
Useful language for an article
Involving the reader

Just imagine...
Have you ever...?
How would you feel if ...?
Are you one of those people who ...?
If the answer is ..., you should....
What would live be like if...
...

Making the article lively and interesting

I was absolutely terrified when I realised...


More importantly, it was something I...
Not surprisingly, it's a good way of raising money.
The tent was worryingly small for three people!
It was the most amazing experience I have ever had.
...

Developing your points

Let's start with ...


Another advantage of ...
On top of that, ...
...

Giving your own opinion

I think that / In my opinion ...


It seems to me that ...
If you ask me, ...
To my mind...
...

Model questions and answers


Article- Model question 1
TASK

You see this announcement on an English-language website.

Articles wanted
A charity event to remember
What is the most unusual way you've raised money for charity? How did you do it?
What did you have to do? Was the event a success? Would you do it again?
Write us an article answering these questions.
We will publish the best articles on our website.

Write your article in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Article - Model answer 1


A charity event to remember

So why did I decide to do a 90-km walk in six days along the Great Wall of China?
Well, the reason was that our local children's hospital needed to raise money or it would
be close. However, I didn't realise how big a challenge it would be.

Before I went, I thought that I would be walking along a flat surface but when I saw the
Great Wall, my heart sank. Part of the time we would be trekking up hundreds of high
steps and, worryingly, some of the paths had steep falls on either side and there was
nowhere to go because we were surrounded by mountains and forests. However, after a
while, I started to love the experience. I was in one of the most amazing places on earth
and the views were incredible.

In the end, the adventure was a great success. The hospital was delighted because a
group of us managed to raise several thousand pounds.

Would I be keen to help the hospital again next year? Yes, but I think I'll try and find an
easier challenge next time!

[+/- 190 words]

Article- Model question 2


TASK
You see this announcement in an international magazine.

Articles wanted
Life on a desert island
Imagine you were on a desert island. What important object, person or place in your life
would you miss most? What would be the reasons?
Write us an article answering these questions.
We will publish the best articles in the magazine.

Write your article in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Article - Model answer 2


Life on a desert island

How would you feel about living on a desert island? I can't imagine anything worse! I'd
miss a lot of things but most of all, I would miss my home.

My home is a small house on the outskirts of a city. It was built about 50 years ago and
has a small garden. In the summer, our country gets very hot but our house is always
cool. You'd probably think our house is nothing special, but I have lived there all my life
and all my friends live nearby. It's a happy place, where I feel completely safe.
Whenever I go away, I look forward to coming back, lying on my bed, reading a book
and listening to my brother and sister arguing downstairs!

I love travelling and meeting new people, but if I were on a desert island, I'd be away
from the place I love most: my home; and I would hate that.

[+/- 160 words]

Article- Model question 3


TASK

You see this announcement in an international magazine.

Articles wanted
Lucky winners
What would you do if you won a large sume of money. How would your life change?
Write us an article answering these questions. Give reasons.
We will publish the best articles next month.

Write your article in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Article - Model answer 3


Don't throw it all away!
Have you ever dreamt of becoming rich unexpectedly? Just imagine what your life
would be like! However, some people who get rich quickly are very careless with their
money and end up being poorer than they were before.

That's why I'd be very careful. I wouldn't want a completely different kind of life, so I'd
start by putting some of it away, in case everything went wrong - set up a kind of
"emergency fund". Then I would buy my hard-working parents a new home. They
deserve it because they have always provided me with everything I've always wanted,
even if it meant they had to go without. I would also give some money away to needy
people who are struggling in the world and have no food. It would not be right to just
spend the money on myself. Then I think I would take a year off from studying and
travel round the world in great comfort. I've spent most of my live travelling on a
limited budget and sleeping in hostels.

After that, who knows? I'll see, but I certainly won't be buying any luxury cars!

[+/- 190 words]


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FCE - formal letter or email


For your convenience you may want to download a PDF version of this article
FCE Formal letter/email - [pdf]

Paper 2 Part 1 - Formal letter or email


Formal letters may be written to an individual or to an organisation. The purpose may
be, for example,

to apply for part-time or vacation work (application letter)


to apply for study or scholarship opportunity (application letter)
to complain about something (complaint letter)
to make suggestions about something
to request information (enquiry letter)
In many exam questions, you will be told what to include in your reply. Make sure
that your reply answers any questions that you were asked in
the task and takes into account any additional information that
you have been told to mention. It is important that you include these in
order to get a good grade.

How to write formal letters


[1] Salutation or Greeting
(A) If you know the name of the person you are writing to use the title (Mr,
Mrs, Miss or Ms) and the surname only. If you are writing to a woman and do not know
if she uses Mrs or Miss, you can use Ms, which is for married and single women.
Examples: "Dear Mr Simpson," / "Dear Mrs Flanders," / "Dear Miss
Skinner," / "Dear Ms Van Houten,"
(B) If you do not know the name of the recipient of the letter begin
with "Dear Sir," / "Dear Madam," (if you know you are writing to a man or a
woman) or "Dear Sir or Madam," (if you do not know the sex of the person you
are writing to).
[2] Body
[2.1] Opening

The first paragraph states the reason(s) for writing and, if needed, what you are
responding to (an advert, a prospectus...). In addition, an opening paragraph is needed to
make reference to previous correspondence.

Useful phrases for the opening

I would like to apply for one of the scholarships I saw advertised in your
prospectus. (applying for a scholarship)
I am looking for an outdoor work during the summer holidays and I would like
to apply for the position of hotel lifguard assistant which I say advertised in my
university's student newspaper. (applying for a job)
I have seen your advertisement for the post / vacancy / job of advertised in the
local newspaper on 16 June. I am writing because I would like to apply for the
job. (applying for a job)
I am the secretary of my college Science Club. I saw your advertisement for the
exhibition "The Next 100 Years" and I am interested in organising a group visit. I was
wondering if I could ask you some questions about it. (requesting information)
I am writing (in order) to complain about the advertisement for your new game.
Having just played the game, I realise that the advertisement is
misleading. (complaint letter)
I am writing with regard to ... I am writing with reference to... I am writing in
response to...
Thank you for /your letter of 9 May... /for your letter regarding...
In reply tor your letter of 8 May, ...
[2.2], [2. .] Main content

The rest of the body will be organized in paragraphs: that will make reading easier and
the effect on the target reader will be better. For example, an application letter may have
this layout and paragraphing:

Salutation or greeting
#1 Opening (first paragraph)
#2 About you (age, where you live, education-training and/or work experience
relevant to the job, languages ...)
#3 Reasons for applying (why you are suitable for the job)
#4 Conclusion (availability for interview, further questions, ... - if necessary)
Closing
Final salutation
Name and surname
For any type of formal letter, paragraphing is just a matter of common
sense, grouping ideas logically (covering two points or questions in one paragraph,
two other points or questions in another paragraph...). You should aim for three to five
paragraphs

Other useful phrases

Asking politely
Could you tell me... ?
I would be grateful if you could ...
I would be interested in having more details about...
I would like to know if/when/when/...
I would like information on...
Do you know if...?
Complaining

I would like to complain about + noun or -ing


... is not what I expected / was expecting
I am not satisfied with...
I would be grateful if my money was refunded / if you could give me a refund
...
[3] Closing
The end of your letter is as important as the beginning. You usually state what you
would like the recipient to do, make a reference to a future event, offer to help...

I look forward to hearing from you soon / I look forward to receiving your reply
I look forward to receiving a full refund (in a complaint letter)
I would like to know what you are going to do about this situation (in a
complaint letter)
I would like to thank you in advance for this information (in a enquiry
letter -requesting information)
If you require/Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to
contact me/feel free to contact me.
[4] Final salutation
Depending on how you started your letter (See "Salutation or Greeting" above), you will
end your letter with

(A) Yours sincerely,


(B) Yours faithfully,
[5] Sign your name and then print your name clearly underneath on another new line

Moe Szyslak
Moe Szyslak

Letter of application - useful phrases


Dear ......

I am writing to apply for a/the job of ..... which I saw advertised in "The Guardian"
newspaper.

I am 26 years old and at the moment I am studying at . Having studied English for
over seven years I am a fluent speaker of the language. My qualifications also include
Proficiency certificates in both French and German. As far as experience is concerned, I
have worked as ............. for ........... As for my character, people tell me I am ...............
I feel I would be suitable for this job because ............ . This will give me the opportunity
to .. . I would also like the chance to....

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours

name

Other things to consider

Range: It is important that you use grammatical expressions and vocabulary


appropriate to the level of the exam. Even if there are no mistakes in your writing, you
will not be able to get a good grade if you use only the language and vocabulary that
you learnt at elementary level.

Formal language

Use full verb forms and not contractions (do not instead of don't, would
like instead of 'd like...)
Formal vocabulary, usually not using phrasal verbs.
More complex sentence structure.
Connectors: All good writing makes good use of connectors. You need to use
some of the connectors that are more specific to formal language.

Model questions and answers


Formal email/letter 1 - Model question
TASK

You see this advertisement in a student newspaper.

Lifeguard assistants wanted

We are looking for someone in August to assist our lifeguards, provide supervision
during beach activities and observe swimmers.

Write to the Lifeguard Manager, saying what your experience and qualifications are and
stating the reasons why you are suitable for the job.

Write your email in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Formal email/letter 1 - Model answer


Dear Sir or Madam,

I am looking for outdoor work during the summer holidays and I would like to apply for
the position of lifeguard assistant, which I saw advertised in my university's student
newspaper.
I am 20 years old and at present I am studying Physical Education. I am a strong
swimmer and have recently had first aid training. I very much enjoy working with
people and for the last two summers I have benn working as an assitant ranger in a
National Park, where I had to provide information to the public about using the park and
provide emergency assistance to park users. Now I am looking for something different.

I think I would be a suitable candidate for the position because I have been described as
calm in a crisis and someone who works well with others.

I am available for the whole of August and would be happy to attend an interview at any
time. I look forward to hearing from you at any time in the near future.

Yours faithfully,

Ivan Ivienen

(+/- 175 words)

Semi-formal email/letter 2 - Model question


TASK

You recently helped organise a college ski trip and you have received
this email from a parent of one of the students who went.

I understand you were one of the organisers of our son's ski trip. I have to say my
husband and I were extremely dissatisfied with the arrangements. My son has informed
us that the ski slopes were poor, the lessons were fewer than promised and the
accommodation was inadequate.

Can you please give us a satisfactory explanation?

Nora White

Write your email in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Semi-formal email/letter 2 - Model answer


Dear Ms White,

First, let me apologise for any disappointment your son experienced on our ski trip. It is
true that there were several concerns. Since we had been led to believe by the company
that there would be sufficient slopes for both beginners and advanced skiers, we were
extremely upset when this turned out to not to be the case. It was also unfortunate that
lack of snow meant that artificial snow had to be used instead.

As for the question of lessons, if you look at the letter we sent you, you will see that
only five one-hour lessons were included in the price and that extra hours would have to
be paid for separately.

In relation to accommodation, I am not quite sure what you are referring to. I know that
in one room there were not enough beds but this was not the case in your son's room.
We would like to assure you that we take all complaints seriously. We have already
decided that next year we will change the company and the location for our trip and we
hope that your son will consider joining us again.

Yours sincerely,

Ernest Omate

(+/- 195 words)

Formal email/letter 3 - Model question


TASK

You see this announcement in an English-language college


prospectus.

Scholarships

Every year, two scholarships are offered to candidates from overseas who can show how
our one-year course in English and American studies would help their career.

Scholarships cover fees, accommodation and food, but not transport or personal
spending money.

To apply, write a letter explaining why you think you deserver a scholarship.

Write your letter in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.

Formal email/letter 3 - Model answer


Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to apply for one of the scholarships I saw advertised in your prospectus.

At present, I am training to be a secondary school teacher of English and I finish my


course at the end of June. However, I feel I still have a lot to learn about the language
and culture of the English-speaking world and would benefit considerably from a course
in an English-speaking country.

The reason I am applying for a scholarship is that I cannot afford the cost of studying
abroad. I have no income except for my student grant, so if I am fortunate enough to be
given a scholarship, I would have to work part-time to save some personal spending
money. My parents will borrow som money for my airfare if I am successful.

I would appreciate being given the opportunity to study at your college and would be
very grateful if you would consider my application.

Yours faithfully,

Pedro Gadicto

(+/- 160 words)


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