Cambridge First (B2) Formal Letter Writing

Cambridge First (B2) Application Letter Writing Tips

What is the Cambridge First Application letter?

The formal letter or application letter has long been a writing task on the Cambridge First Exam. Like other letter and email forms, it is now a possible option in Part 2. Here we take look at what you need to know and how to write a formal application email.

Application Email Basics

  • Write 140-190 words
  • Style: Semi-formal or formal
  • Include information from the exam question in your letter
  • As you are writing to someone unknown make sure your writing style is appropriate

 

Application Letter Example

Let’s now look at a sample question. You can typically expect something like this.

Example Question

CAMP HELPERS  WANTED!
(Summer)

  • Would you like to work with teenagers aged 13-18?
  • Do you have lots of energy and enthusiasm?
  • Are you sporting or do you play any musical instruments?

We are looking for helpers for our summer camp to work with teenagers on a range of activities. Please apply to Mike Wilson saying why you are suitable for the job.

Things to think about in a formal letter or email

Register

Before we start we need to look at register. Register is using the right type of language for a specific situation. By using the wrong type of language you can have a negative effect on the reader. This means, in this case, we have to make sure we use semi-formal or formal language. If you don’t do that in the exam your score will be affected.

Greetings/Endings

The parts of any email or letter writing that are most affected by register are the greetings and endings we use. These examples of greetings & endings below are acceptable in formal email or letter writing. When we think of formal writing ,certain greetings have specific endings. This example here is when you have no name and it is the only option you should use.

Greetings
Endings

Dear Sir/Madam,
Yours faithfully

Dear Sir or Madam,
 

When we know a person’s name we have a few more options to choose from. With the names John White and Mary White as examples we can use the following.  However, we do not use first names with these titles.

Greetings
Endings

Dear Mr White,
Yours sincerely

Dear Ms White,
Best/Kind Regards

Dear Mrs White,
Regards

Note: We only use Mrs for a woman if we know she is married. Ms is a a more common title for all circumstances.

Organisation of Application Emails

An application letter is a real life task and the organisation we present here is how you can write an email for a job application. This type of letter is also called a covering letter.

Paragraph 1 Why am I writing?

 In formal letter writing in English the first paragraph is always an explanation of why you are sending a letter to email.  For an application letter this can be very simple. These two examples show different levels of formality but both would be appropriate.

Example One

Dear Mr Wilson,

I am writing to apply for the post/position of helper, which was advertised on jobs.com.

This makes it clear to someone reading what the purpose of the letter/email is.

Example Two

Dear Mr Wilson,

I am writing in reply/response to your advertisement on jobs.com. I would like to apply for the position/post of helper in your summer camp.

In our second example the same information is a little more detailed and formal. It is an example of what can be used in real life covering letters.

Paragraph 2

In this paragraph you should present any qualifications and experience that are relevant to the job.  Don’t include anything that is not.

Paragraph 3

Here you can add the special skills you have that are relevant to this job.

Paragraph 4

This is the place where you can say why you would be good for  the job.  Typically you would add comments about attitude,  work ability and anything else that could be of interest to an employer.

Final paragraph

The final paragraph is where you can mention a CV and talk about interviews and contact by the potential employer.  There is a standard way you can write this and this example suggests what you can include.

Application Letter Ending

I have attached my CV for your attention. I am available for interview at any time. If/Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you you.

Note: While we have used a five paragraph model here, you can choose to combine information together. The purpose here is to show you how you can organise the information.

Take a look at the image of a letter plan below. 

Example Letter plan

FCE formal letter plan

Example Cambridge First formal email answer

Purpose of letter

Dear Mr Wilson,

I am writing in reply to your advertisement on jobs.com for summer camp helpers and I would like to apply for one of these positions.

Personal Details & Experience

I am 19 years old and a university student.  In the evenings and some weekends, I work as a team leader in my local youth club , where I have helped for the last three years.  The activities there include sports and a social club.

Relevant skills 

Music is a passion of mine so I play guitar in my free time. I have given guitar lessons to young children during school holidays. I am keen on sports, especially outdoor sports. As well as being a good swimmer I also play tennis.

Personal qualities

I feel I am a very positive, motivated person who always wants to learn new things. I also believe that I work well with rest of the youth leaders and although we share responsibility in organizing the activities it is skill I have myself.

Suitable ending

I am available for interview at any time and I have attached my CV for your attention. Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

 

Some Final Thoughts

  • The application letter has a very specific organisation to it and much of it can be learnt or planned.
  • As the application letter is only one of three possible types of letters or emails, you should consider other options for Part 2 as there may not be a formal letter in your exam.
 

Learn more about each of the Cambridge First writing exercises

Learn more about each of the Cambridge First writing exercises

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