Fce writing Guide 1 Transactional Letter 1 Part 1 of fce paper 2 is compulsory

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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 don’t know, or don’t 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. I’m sorry I haven’t written for such a long time, but I’ve 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 haven’t 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 haven’t written back for so long.

Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.

I’ve been really busy recently.

I’ve been working really hard.

I’ve been studying like mad for my final exams.

I’m really pleased you’re coming to Italy.

It’s great that you’re coming here soon.

When exactly will you be coming?

Do you know when you’re coming?

When are you going to be here?

Why don’t you come and stay with me for a few days?

I’d 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.

I’m sure you’d 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 it’s 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 week’s “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 can’t 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 as a foreign language. Mention both good and bad points in your report.
You should plan your answer carefully, like this:

  • Think of good and bad points about the museum, especially in relation to students of English.

  • Join the good and bad points using linking expressions. The most useful are:

despite / in spite of but

although / even though On the other hand


  • Organise your sentences into numbered paragraphs, with sub-headings, like this:

    1. Introduction

    1. Price

    1. Interest

    1. Language

    1. Conclusion

Give your report a clear title, like this:

Report on the Seals Museum, La Spezia
To: School Director
From: Excursions officer

Follow your plan and write your report. Remember to read and check carefully for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Here are some phrases which may help you with this type of report:
I visited the Seals Museum last week in order to decide if it would be an interesting place for students to visit.

I will comment on the following: price, interest, language

The entrance fee to the museum is …

There is a reduction for students.

Students pay half-price on Wednesdays.

There are many interesting exhibits on display.

The Egyptian section was closed on the day I visited.

I especially liked the …

I found the …. especially interesting.

I think students will appreciate the ….

Most students will find the …. of interest.

A guidebook in English is available.

The guidebook is rather expensive.

It contains some beautiful colour photographs.

The guides are helpful.

The guides don’t speak English.

There is an audio commentary in English.

It wasn’t working on the day of my visit.

In my opinion ….

To conclude, I think that ….

I am therefore of the opinion that ….

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

FCE Writing Guide 5
Letter of Application
In Paper 2, Part 2 you may be asked to write a letter of application.
Look at the following job advertisement:
Trading and Commercial Bank

Trainee Managers

We will be recruiting trainee managers to start work

In late June or early July in our branches all over

Europe. Applicants should have a degree in an

appropriate area and a knowledge of English and/or

German. Apply in writing to:

The Personnel Officer

Trading and Commercial Bank

134 Collins Street


The sentences in this reply are in the wrong order. Put them in the correct order, by putting 1-6 in the gaps.

Dear Sir / Madam,
I can be contacted by telephone on 01202 452234 in the mornings or at the above address. __
I have a working knowledge of German and have recently passed the University of Cambridge First Certificate in English examination. __
I look forward to receiving your reply. __
I am writing in reply to your advertisement in last Tuesday’s Evening News. __
I will also complete a degree in Banking and Finance in June and will be available for work immediately afterwards. __
I would like to apply for one of the trainee manager positions you advertise. __
Yours faithfully

Juan de Souza

This type of letter is based on a very small number of fixed, formulaic expressions. If you can reproduce these correctly in the exam you are certain to get a very good mark.
Look at the following task:
You see the following advertisement in the newspaper. Write a letter applying for one of these positions and asking for more details about the discounts. Do not write any addresses.
Trainee Travel Agents

We are looking for students who are interested in

training to become travel agents. To join our training

scheme you must have a knowledge of English and

an interest in travelling. These positions are unpaid,

but you will receive large discounts on all our organised

tours and holidays.

Write to: Maria Sampras



Via Ardipane

Rome 04100

Underline the key words in the instructions. Think about the form of your letter. Will it begin and end in the same way as the previous letter?

Plan your letter. Follow the order of the previous letter. Remember to ask for more information about the discounts. You will also need to give some evidence for your knowledge of English and your interest in travelling. You may also want to ask about the possibilities of work at the end of the training period.
The following phrases may help you:
I am very interested in joining your training scheme.

I have loved travelling since I was a small child.

I have visited many countries in Europe.

I studied English for eight years at school.

I am currently attending a course to prepare for the First Certificate examination.

Could you please give me some more information about the discounts you offer?

Your advertisement mentions discounts, and I would be grateful if you could tell me …

Could you give me some indication about the possibility of finding a job on completion of the course?

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

FCE Writing Guide 6
Article 2
Look at this question:
A local English language newspaper has asked students to write articles expressing their opinion about this question:
Should students do part-time work?
Write your article for the newspaper.
In order to write a good answer to this question, you need to plan your article carefully.
First, decide what opinion you are going to express. Then think of at least three arguments in support of your opinion. For example:

  • Important and useful to have work experience

  • Learn to appreciate the value of money

  • Come into contact with other people, not just other students

Decide in what order you are going to present your ideas. Then write your article. Be sure to divide it into three or four paragraphs.

Make use of ordering expressions like these:
First of all Firstly In the first place
Secondly In the second place

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

FCE Writing Guide 7
Transactional Letter 3
Remember that Part 1 of Paper 2 is compulsory. There is only one question. You always have to write either a formal or an informal letter.
Look at the question below.
You were travelling by train recently and left something that belongs to you on the train. Write a letter to the lost property officer enquiring about the thing you lost. Use these notes in your letter. Do not write any addresses.

  • date of journey

  • destination and departure time

  • description of object

How to write a formal letter.

If you are asked to write to an official or a company you should NOT use

  • question tags

  • contractions

  • linkers like well, anyway, by the way

  • All the best or Love from Alex at the end of your letter


  • begin the letter with either Dear Sir / Madam or Mr / Ms/ Dr + the person’s surname

  • use formal language, eg I look forward to receiving your reply

  • end the letter with Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely

  • sign your letter with your full name

Remember to plan your letter before you start writing. For the question above, the plan should look like this:

  • explain why you are writing

  • say what you lost and when, describe it

  • ask how you can get it back

  • thank the recipient of the letter in advance

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

FCE Writing Guide 8
Article 3
In Paper 2, Part 2 you may have the option of writing an article in which you write about the advantages and disadvantages of something, the arguments for and against something, or in which you write your opinion about a subject.
Look at this question.
You have been asked to write an article for a student newspaper on the following topic:
Has television improved in your country over the last ten years?
Write your article, saying what most people think and giving your own point of view.
To answer this question well, you need to plan your article carefully, like this:

  • underline key words in the instructions.

  • Think of arguments for and against.

  • Write a plan. A good plan for this question might look like this:

Introduction: question as a statement; two points of view
Paragraph 1: describe a situation – more channels than before.
Paragraph 2: more choice; entertainment mainly
Paragraph 3: not educational; fewer documentaries; fewer cultural programmes
Conclusion: what most people think; what I think.
Then write your article and check it carefully.
The following phrases may be useful in writing this type of article:
Many people think that …. . However, there are people who think that ….

A few years ago ….. Nowadays, on the other hand, …..

It is therefore certainly true that …..

It is worth remembering however, that ….

Furthermore, it must be admitted that …..

On balance, therefore I think that …..

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

FCE Writing Guide 9
Formal and Informal Letters
Here are some more expressions which you can use when you are writing a letter. Decide whether they are suitable for use in a formal or an informal letter and mark them F or I.
Initial greetings

It was great to hear from you. __

I am writing with reference to your letter of 25 May. __

Thanks for writing to me. __


Well done! __

I would like to offer congratulations on your recent promotion. __

Please allow me to congratulate you on your recent success. __

Advice / suggestion

Why not try __

What about going __

It is recommended that you contact __

You could visit __

I urge you to consider the points I have made. __

If I were you I’d __

Moreover, __

Then again, __

Furthermore, __

Better still, __

What’s more, __

Additionally, __

Do drop me a line if you have time. __

I look forward to hearing from you without delay. __

Hope to hear from you soon. __

Keep in touch. __

I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience. __

Now look at this example of a Part 1 task.
You have just returned from a trip to Florida. You flew there and back with “Ocean Air”. You decide to write to the airline to complain about your flight and ask for some money back.
Read the advertisement and the notes you made and then, using the information, write a letter to the airline. You may add other relevant points of your own.

We offer:

  • 4 flights a day late boarding

  • wide, comfortable seats

  • friendly, well-trained staff quite rude

  • a good choice of food

(no problems with special diets) no vegetarian for me!

  • the latest in in-flight entertainment movie already been on TV!

Write your letter in 120-180 words. Do not include any postal addresses.

Now think about how you will answer this question. What kind of letter will it be? How will you begin and end the letter? How are you going to organise the letter? How many paragraphs will you write? What kind of linking words will you use?
Remember that you must include all the points in the rubric, so you must make reference to the late boarding, the rudeness of the staff, the lack of a vegetarian alternative and the old film. You may, if you wish, make further points, (you could, for example, comment on the seats) but remember not to write much more than 180 words.
Here are some phrases to help you:
I am writing to complain about ….

I recently flew to Florida with your airline, and unfortunately ….

Your advertisement talks about …. whereas my experience was that ….

In your advertisement you say …. . However, in reality, ….

Your advertisement mentions …. . On my flight, however, ….

Another cause for complaint was that …..

Not only that, but …..

All in all, I am most dissatisfied with the service I received and ….

I hope you will be able to refund at least some of the return fare, as ….

I hope to receive an apology in the near future.

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

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