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If I recall for good, one of the two writing task in the CELPIP exam is about sending a word to someone with higher hierarchy. Therefore, you must write a formal letter.

The Letter Format

This is one of the most important things when writing a letter. Here it is an example:

January, 27th 1979

uOttawa Board
Prime Minister 24 Sussex Dr
Ottawa, ON K1M 1M4

RE: Economic Support

Dear Directive Board,

I am writing to you regarding my last economic support application. I am currently attending the last semester of the Master's in Teclecomunication Management with a general GPA of A.

Since last year, my family and myself have been having some economical problems; most part of them by an unscheduled payment to support a non-dependant familly member which it has driven me to a possition of considering to stop my studies.

I would be more than happy and grateful if you can support me in this difficult time and I look forward to reading your answer.


Some outstanding points about the format:

  • You write the date in the month, day year format. Note that the day in English is written as an ordinal number.
  • You always write you are writing to and the known address
  • You always write the subject in the format: Re: Subject
  • You always start with a salute
  • You end your letter with a salute and complete name (I just wrote my initials in this example)

The Vocabulary

Writing a formal letter is very crucial, some tips are:

  • Use non-gender words as much as possible unless you are referring to a specific someone. Instead of writing, I was working as a waitress (female), you may write I was working as a server. Which it is the same but neutral.
  • Avoid repeating the same word many times, instead of writing I was writing in my notebook, and then I took my notebooks downstairs and I borrowed one notebook to my best friend. You could write I was writing in my notebook, then I took them downstairs and a friend of mine asked for one.
  • Use formal expressions, thus instead of therefore, which instead of where, hereby instead of I let you know.
  • Use the passive voice, as sometimes it is more important the object where the action relies on than who is executing, for example, My car was hit by my neighbour instead of My neighbour hit my car.

Spelling and False Friends

Fortunately for everybody, the CELPIP exam is done on the computer and a basic spelling corrector is enable by default. However, you must know when to write the correct word because if by mistake you write anp, the software will suggest and and ant.

You must also beware of false friends. A false friend is a word that is written the same (or very similar, with the same root) in two languages but the real meaning is very different. I can think of the word terrific and terrible (in Spanish). Terrific in English means that something is awesome, Terrible in Spanish is that something is very bad. You can give a read to this false friends list.

Good luck!

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