Cambridge Advanced Letter Writing

In the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam, writing letters or emails is one of the tasks you may be asked to do in Part 2. Here we will look at what you need to know.

What you find in the Cambridge Advanced Exam

Letters or emails have been a standard option in the Cambridge exams for a very long time. The following are two examples of what you might expect as a letter writing exercise. We should point out that while both are listed as possible writing tasks on the Advanced exam, the informal letter is not very common.

Advanced Informal email example

CAE informal email example


Formal example

CAE formal email

Advanced C1 Informal Email

Firstly you need to show that you have an understanding of the type of register and structure needed for such emails. By this we mean you need to be very clear who your audience is and how formal your writing should be.  What both have in common is that the content you need to include is specifically provided in the question.

 Example Email

In our informal example offering suggestions on things to do but more importantly supporting them with reasons and explanations is key. Although the answer may be informal you are still expected to demonstrate the ability to use a wide range of language. Take a look at this sample paragraph in answer to the informal email question above. 

Informal email – sample paragraph

Local places of interest

As for places to visit, well, we’re in a pretty scenic part of the country and there’s been quite a push from the local tourist office to develop trails and paths around the town. In the main, they are not too physically challenging and generally short enough, although there are a couple of steeper, tougher routes. If that’s not your thing there are some historical locations we could take a look at, ranging from old period houses and monasteries to a vineyard. 

This is a good response to the original question. It offers a number of suggestions on places of interest and there is a good range of language with some nice vocabulary like scenic and trails and idioms like not your thing, which are all appropriately used. It also has accurate grammar and uses different linking devices : as for, well, in the main, although to produce a very coherent and informative paragraph. 

Advanced Formal Letter or Email

In an Advanced or CAE formal letter example you need to present very specific details in a way that informs the reader about this project. It is also critical that you recognise in writing your letter the formal nature of this communication.

Formal email – sample paragraph

How the money will be used

While we have done our own fundraising to support the main organisation of this event, our aim in seeking alternate funding is to produce information leaflets for attendees. As much of what we do may not be familiar to our audience we want them to have something to take away from the day.  We believe 500 leaflets will be sufficient on the day. We are happy to make promotional space available on them for any sponsors.   

As an example this would achieve a good score on a Cambridge C1 Advanced exam. It gives a clear explanation of the point mentioned in the question and everything in the paragraph is absolutely relevant. The style is very formal and appropriate for the task, in particular how it communicates the ideas in a more non-personal way. Vocabulary is wide-ranging with examples like attendees, leaflets, promotional space and grammar is very accurate.

Some Email Writing Tips

  • Make a plan
    As obvious as it may be, exam pressures can leave candidates in a rush to complete the tasks. Laying out what to include in each paragraph is normally adequate enough. Some candidates also like to make a note of suitable linking language they want to use.
  • Write More
    Equally unsurprising is that if you write more often you should improve your own writing. At the very least you’ll find it easier to write. Activities like writing a diary in English can help as can rewriting other completed writing tasks. Try writing and sending emails to people you talk to in English rather than sending texts.
  • Read Other Letters
    Any English language newspaper will have a section for Letters to The Editor. Reading other letters will help give you a better idea of how people structure such communication and you may also find some useful language.
  • Use More Linking Devices
    At an Advanced level candidates must have a very good range of text linking expressions and it is essential to expand your knowledge of them and to experiment with using different types.

Find out more about other Cambridge Advanced writing tasks