CAE – formal letter/email

Paper 2 Writing – Part 2

A letter or email

(formal or informal) is written in response to the situation outlined in the task. Letters/emails in the Cambridge English: Advanced Writing paper will require a response which is consistently appropriate for the specified target reader.

When a response is framed as an email/letter, writing conventions such as an opening salutation, clear paragraphing and closing phrasing are always important.


Read the task carefully and then… read the task carefully (not a mistake. I’ve typed it twice!). You need to underline all the content points and consider the following:

  • Why are you are writing the letter/email? To correct information, to apply for a job, to complain about something….
  • Who is the target reader? You may have to write to the editor of a publication, to a potential employer, to a university administrator…
  • Which language/register would be appropriate to reach my goal? Is there enough SPECIFIC detail in my letter/email to convince the target reader?

Open and finish your letter/email using opening and closing formulae appropriately. Some examples:

  • “Dear Editor” → “Best regards” (and your own name and surname)
  • “Dear Sir/Madam” → “Yours faithfully” (and your own name and surname)
  • “Dear Mrs Jones” → “Yours sincerely” (and your own name and surname)

As a general rule, your first paragraph could be used as an introduction. Add as many paragraphs as content points you have to deal with. In the final paragraph, you should express what you expect to be done as a result of your letter.

Model questions and answers

Formal letter/Email – Model question


Your company would like to offer work-experience placements to students in an international college. Write a letter for publication in the student newspaper at the college.

Your letter should explain what your company does, what kind of work-experience placements are available, and how students would benefit from the experience.

Write your letter in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.

Formal letter/Email – Model answer

Dear Students,

Are you looking for a work placement that will give you plenty of valuable experience and will look good on your CV? If so, then our company may have something to offer you.

We are an international educational exchange organisation which organises links between schools all over the world. We currently have three work-experience placements available for students from your college. The work would involve a range of office tasks, including dealing with correspondence, arranging meetings and keeping our database up-to-date. We are particularly insterested in offering these placements to students with some knowledge of two or more languages.

The placements would be of great benefit to the students who are given this opportunity. It would provide experience of working in a small and dedicated team, which would give you the chance to develop a wider range of office skills than would normally be the case in larger organisations. Our international network means that you would also gain some contacts all over the world, which might be of particular value to any of you considering a career in some aspect of education.

You will find further information about our organisation and the placements we offer on our website and we look forward to hearing from any of you who think that the work might be right for you – and that you might be the right person for one of these placements.

Best wishes to you all,

Paula Fisher

[+/- 240 words]