Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Writing Part 1 - Transactional Letter or Email

Part 1 of the Writing test is compulsory.  You are asked to write a letter or email of between 120 and 150 words in response to input material.  The input material can consist of advertisements, extracts from letters, emails, schedules, etc.  The writing may be more or less formal, and you will know this from the input material.  Here are two extracts from typical exam questions.  Are they formal, neutral or informal?  (See end of post for answer):

(a)  You recently entered a competition for learners of English and you have received a letter from the organisers of the competition.  Write to the organisers of the competition giving the information requested and using all your notes.

(b)  You have received an email from your English speaking friend, Mary, who is planning to open a restaurant.  Read Mary's email and the notes you have made.  Write to Sara using ALL your notes. 

The purpose of this question is to test your ability to respond to written text.  It is important that you respond to ALL of the notes on the input material using the correct register and style.

Here is a list of some of the types of language that you may need to use in this part of the test:
  • advice
  • apologising
  • comparing
  • describing
  • explaining
  • expressing opinions
  • justifying
  • persuading
  • recommending
  • suggesting
Your writing will be marked by the examiners using the following criteria:
  • Content - Have you included ALL the points in the question in an appropriate manner?
  • Organisation and Cohesion -  Are your ideas clearly organised into suitable paragraphs using linking words and expressions, and appropriate opening and closing expressions?
  • Range - have you used a good range of vocabulary and grammatical structures suitable for the task? e.g. expressing opinions, making suggestions, etc.
  • Accuracy - Have you checked your writing for mistakes?
  • Appropriacy of Register and Format - Should your writing be more formal or informal? 
  • Target Reader - What is the effect on the target reader?  e.g. Is it easy to read?  Have you given all the information asked for?  Will the reader know what you are asking for? etc.
Exam Success!
The exam is one hour and 20 minutes long.  This gives you lots of time to plan, write and check your writing before finishing.  If you are short of time, DO NOT rewrite a clean version.  You will find that you are wasting valuable time copying the same mistakes instead of checking your writing to improve it.  If you plan properly, you will only need to write your letter once, then you'll have more time to check for mistakes.

Good Luck!

Answer
(a) neutral
(b) informal

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