When it comes to letter writing, you need to make sure that your concepts are clear.
In this article, you will go through some responses for O Level formal letter writing.
The formal letter (related to the business letter) requires you to write for a directed (formal) purpose and address external parties such as clients, customers, organisations and others.
Enough introduction, let’s first discuss the question of the directed writing (formal letter sample) for which we will discuss the candidate responses.
Paper 1 – Directed Writing:
First of all, let’s discuss the format.
- Address the (concerned) person
This is going to be the first thing that you will do – Address the concerned person properly. For example: “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam”.
Note: If you are asked to start in a specific way, then you will follow the guidelines. For example, if you are asked to start your letter with “Dear officer”, then you should start in that way.
This takes us straight o the next point, writing the subject.
- Write the subject:
After greeting, you are going to write the subject. But, what does this mean? Let me explain.
In simple words, a subject is a brief one-line summary (10-20 characters) that defines the purpose of the letter. Here are a couple of examples for you.
Example 1: “Letter to the editor about mistakes in the magazine”.
Example 2: “Letter to the transport supervisor complaining about the bus conductor”.
After writing the subject, you are going to write the introduction.
This is going to be the first paragraph of your letter.
Here, you are going to introduce the purpose (reason for writing). In other words, you are going to tell what the letter is about.
You may also give some background information (if necessary).
- Body Paragraphs:
After the introduction, you are going to make three body paragraphs. But why?
Take a look at a question. You will notice that the examiner gives you three content points. You are going to make one paragraph for each point.
In these paragraphs, you are simply going to provide (relevant) details about the topic.
This is going to be the last paragraph of your formal letter. In this paragraph, you are simply going to summarise your points.
Note that you should not introduce new points (ideas) in the conclusion.
After the concluding paragraph, you are simply going to end with:
Note: You may also use: Yours faithfully, Yours truly and Best Regards
O Level Formal Letter Sample:
You are advised to write between 200 and 300 words. Total marks for this part: 30.
You return to your house one day to find it has been broken into and many of your possessions have been stolen. You decide to write a letter to the police to report the robbery.
Write your letter. You must include the following:
- at what time and for how long you were away from the house when the robbery took place
- detailed information about the most valuable items taken
- any clues you have noticed and how you think the police might be able to catch the thieves
Cover all three points in detail. Make sure that your letter is informative and helpful for the police. Start your letter with “Dear Sirs” and make sure to provide a suitable ending.
Now, let’s view a grade A response and a grade C response and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
The Grade A Response:
My name is XYZ. I am writing to report a robbery that took place on 20th September. On the day in question, I was shopping in the market between 09:00 am and 11:00 am. When I returned to my house, I found out that the door was broken and the furniture inside was mostly missing and the remaining untidy.
I immediately checked the entire house and unfortunately, I found out that some valuable items were long gone. I pondered over for some time and I found out that the items that were stolen included a diamond bracelet and a silver watch. The silver watch is made up of pure 925 silver and the diameter of the watch is 2 cm (with Roman numerals making the numbers). The bracelet is a simple white gold bangle and it has diamonds engraved at its perimeters.
Furthermore, I noticed some fingerprints on my bedroom mirror. A piece of red cloth (fairly untidy) caught in the door handle was also found indicating that the thieves were in a hurry. Moreover, there were footprints in my garden as well.
I believe that you might be able to trace the robbers by viewing the cameras in the town. You may also visit the nearby jewellery shops to find out whether the bracelet is sold or not.
To conclude, I hope that you can quickly solve the robbery and locate my belongings. I will help you in any way I can. You can contact me on my number and even can pay a visit to the address that is mentioned at the back of the envelope this letter came with.
Language marks = 14 out of 15
Task fulfilment marks = 15 out of 15
Total marks awarded = 29 out of 30
The Examiner Response:
This letter is a perfect sample to discuss how to attempt o level formal letter. The writer does not make the mistake of making the letter narrative.
The task fulfilment is appreciable as the purpose, audience and situation are well known to the writer.
The purpose is indicated in the opening of the last paragraph which is good. When it comes to the format, it is acceptable but it is not perfect – “Cordially” is quite formal enough keeping in mind the situation of the letter, whereas ‘Yours faithfully’ is what the examiner expects.
The tone and the register are excellent, and the candidate attempts to be polite and informative which is good.
The provision of the contact number and the address is sensible and this indicates the cooperative approach of the writer (but it was not mandatory).
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Comments from the author:
Remember that the examiner does not know you. He has no idea about what you look like, your performance in your school and other things about you.
You have to introduce yourself and the best way is to provide the examiner what he wants.
The mentioned three bullet points is what you need to focus on. The introductory paragraph and the concluding paragraph only ask to re-emphasize the purpose.
In the examiner response, it is mentioned that the format of the letter is acceptable but it is not perfect, so keep that in mind.
With that being said, let’s discuss a weaker response:
Candidate Response – Grade C:
To the Police
09 October 2012
Robbery and Vandalism at my place
I am writing this letter to you to express my situation after the robbery and vandalism that occurred at my place yesterday.
Time and Circumstances:
It all took place last night while I was at my friend’s villa for his. birthday. At about 11:00 pm, my neighbours ringed me and said that he has heard some disturbing sounds coming from my house. During that time, being drunk, I did not pay much attention to what he was saying. All that came to my mind was my dog scratching things around the house looking for food.
When I returned back home, I noticed that all the windows were shattered apart from the main entrance window. I rushed into the house to check my inventory. I found out that all the money I kept for my vacations were missing including my laptop and a “personal digital assistant”. Moreover, my racing bike worth a hefty was also no longer in my garage.
Clues that might be helpful:
After having a closer look at my house, I noticed some clues that might be helpful: there was some blood residue on my dog’s chin. There were some footprints in my muddy garden and some marks of my bike on the ground. By tracking their digital prints and with the help of clues your professional team will find from the house, I believe that you will catch the robbers with ease.
I will be grateful to you if my situation will be taken into consideration.
Language marks: 12 / 15
Task fulfilment marks: 11 / 15
Total Marks: 23 / 30
Response from the author:
This letter is a very good sample to discuss when it comes to o level formal letter writing. After reading the letter, one can deduce that the candidate was very capable and could have written a much better response.
The candidate uses decent vocabulary but that is not enough. Headings are provided which are not required because you have to make paragraphs. The candidate lacks proper preparation of the format.
The candidate has some sort of understanding of the situation but expressions such as “express my situation” are a little vague. Unfortunately, the letter lapses into a narrative which is a matter of concern.
“Some blood residue” and similar tenses make the letter very good but things such as “last night” are vague and they require some sort of elaboration.
The language is clean and the paragraphs have been well-connected with each other. What other strengths and weaknesses do you find in this response, tell me in the comments.
The o Level formal letter is discussed in this article. I hope that your concerns are clear. Feel free to ask any questions.
Two samples are discussed above. The reason being the multiple dimensions we came across while attempting the formal letter.
Remember to follow the instructions your examiner has provided. Instead of using fancy difficult words, try to attempt your directed writing naturally. Only then you can secure your marks.
Directed writing comprises 30 marks (15 for language and 15 for task fulfilment). It is all about understanding the purpose of your writing (in this case, the formal letter sample).
Thank you very much for reading and staying with me till the end and stay tuned for more.