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FCE Exam Writing Guides of Dubious Usefulness

Dec 26, 2015




FCE Writing Guide 1

FCE Writing Guide 1

Transactional Letter 1

Part 1 of FCE Paper 2 is compulsory. You always write a letter to ask for or give information of some kind. This letter may be formal or informal. A formal letter is a letter you write to someone you dont know, or dont know very well. An informal letter is the kind of letter you write to friends, members of your family and other people you know well. Look at the following phrases and mark them F (formal) or I (informal).

1. Dear Sir / Madam __

2. Love, Elena __

3. See you next week! I can hardly wait! __

4. I look forward to receiving your reply. __5. Yours faithfully,

Ana Garcia Herrera __

6. I am writing in reply to your letter of 15 May. __

7. Give my love to your parents. __

8. Should you require any further information, do not hesitate to contact us at the above address. __

9. Write back soon and tell me all your news. __

10. Im sorry I havent written for such a long time, but Ive been really busy.

11. I would be most grateful if you could send me any further relevant information. __

Remember! Learning to write correctly and appropriately in English means building up a stock of fixed phrases and expressions, such as those above, which you can adapt to the specific situation as required. This is much better than trying to translate your Italian thoughts into English, which is likely to result in strange and unnatural writing. Always read the instructions carefully and decide what kind of letter, formal or informal, you are supposed to write.

Look at this task. Will your answer be formal or informal?

Some young people you met last summer are planning to visit your country on holiday and have asked you to suggest some places of interest to see. Write a letter of reply using the notes below.

- when? - how long? - come and stay?

Now look at the plan for the above task and put the points in a logical order, by numbering them 1-7.

Apologise for not writing sooner. __Thank them for their letter. __

Ask when they will be coming. __

Tell them to write again. __

Invite them to stay for a few days. __

Suggest places to visit and things to do. __

Say why you havent replied sooner. __

Think of ideas: a reason for not replying; things they might enjoy doing and seeing. Is there a particularly good time of year to visit these places? What can your friends do there?

Remember that you will need to divide the letter into clearly marked paragraphs, usually three or four.

Here are some phrases you can use in this letter:

Thank you for your letter.

It was great to hear from you.

Sorry I havent written back for so long.

Sorry its taken me so long to reply.

Ive been really busy recently.

Ive been working really hard.

Ive been studying like mad for my final exams.

Im really pleased youre coming to Italy.

Its great that youre coming here soon.

When exactly will you be coming?

Do you know when youre coming?

When are you going to be here?

Why dont you come and stay with me for a few days?

Id love to put you up for a few days.

Would you like to stay with me for a few days?

You could visit Lerici and Portovenere.

The Cinque Terre are well worth a visit.

Im sure youd really love the Museo Lia.

You can swim and sunbathe on the sandy beaches.

We could go for walks in the countryside together.

Write back soon and tell me your plans.

Write and tell me exactly when you are planning to come.

Now write your letter. Ask the Study Centre monitor for help if you need it. Try to write about 150 words.

FCE Writing Guide 2

Transactional Letter 2

Look at the following task. Are you asked to write a formal or an informal letter?

Look at the advertisement and the notes you have made below it. Then write a letter of between 120 and 150 words in an appropriate style asking for more information covering the points in your notes. Do not write any addresses.



for water-sports club. Water-skiing, scuba diving, jet ski, windsurfing! You name it if its a water sport we offer instruction and facilities for it. Plenty of opportunities to practise your chosen sport with other enthusiasts at Club Aquarius! For your membership application form write to:

The Secretary

Club Aquarius

PO Box 312


Sussex, SU3 5JT

membership fee?

Annual or monthly payment?

Use of facilities free to members?

Sports not mentioned in advertisement?

Follow this procedure:1. Look at the instructions and underline the words and phrases which tell you exactly what you have to do.

2. Think of four questions you want to ask in your letter.

3. Decide what order you want to put them in, and how you will divide the letter into paragraphs.

4. Write your letter. Use linking words, such as firstly, also, as well as this, finally.

5. Check your letter carefully for any grammar and spelling mistakes.

Here are some phrases which you may find useful for this kind of letter:

I saw your advertisement in this weeks Daily Post.

I am interested in becoming a member of Club Aquarius.

There are a few points which I would be grateful if you could clarify.

How much does the club cost to join?

Could you give me information regarding membership fees?

Is the membership fee payable monthly or annually?

Are members subject to additional charges?

Is the use of the facilities free to members?

Does the club offer other sports in addition to those mentioned in the advertisement?

I would also be grateful if you could tell me more about the kind of sports on offer.

Thank you very much for your help.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

How much should I write?In Paper 2 of FCE you are always asked to write between 120 and 150 words in Part 1 and between 120 and 180 words in part 2. You are assessed on the quality and also the quantity of English you produce, so you should try to write around the upper limit (150 or 180 words). Try not to exceed this limit by more than a few words.Now write your letter. Ask the Study Centre monitor for help if you need it.

FCE Writing Guide 3

Article 1

In Paper 2 Part 2 you may be asked to write an article expressing your opinion about something.

Look at this question.

You have been asked to write an article for an English language newspaper aimed at parents with young children. Your article should be a response to the following statement:

Foreign languages should be taught at nursery school level.

The best way to begin answering a question like this is to make a plan. Make two columns, one headed FOR, the other AGAINST. Think of arguments for, or in favour of the statement and write them in the first column. Then think of arguments against and write them in the second column. Two arguments each, for and against, will be sufficient. If you cant think of any arguments for and against, imagine what people you actually know would think about the question. What would your mother think? And your best friend? And your grandparents?Choose one of these two plans. They are both good plans.

Plan A

Introduction: my opinion

Paragraph 1: point for the statement; argument against this point.

Paragraph 2: point for the statement; argument against this point

Conclusion: state my opinion again.

Plan B

Introduction: my opinion.

Paragraph 1: arguments in favour of the statement.

Paragraph 2: arguments against the statement.

Conclusion: state opinion again.

Follow your plan and write the article. When you have finished, read it carefully and check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Here are some phrases which you may find useful for this kind of article:

These days, many people say that .

Nowadays, we often hear people say that ..

In the last few years it has become fashionable to say that .

The question of whether very young children should be taught a foreign language is one which is often discussed these days.

There are several arguments which can be made in favour of the statement.

Opponents of this view argue that .

Another argument which is often put forward is that

In support of this view it may be said that ..

On the other hand, it can also be argued that

In my opinion, .

It is often suggested that .

I agree up to a point that .

Another argument against teaching very young children a foreign language is that

This is true to a certain extent, but .

There is a certain amount of truth in this argument, but

I cannot agree with this viewpoint, since

In conclusion, I have to say that

On balance, therefore, I feel that .

Now write your article. Ask the Study Centre monitor for help if you need it.

FCE Writing Guide 4

Report 1

In Paper 2, Part 2 you may be asked to write a report on a place you have visited and what it offers a particular group of people.

Look at the following task:

You work in a language school helping to organise excursions and trips for students. The school director has asked to prepare a report on a museum in your area. Write your report in 120-180 words describing the museum and what it has to offer students of English a