B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)
Writing Part Two
You have to read a letter your company has received and reply to it. This means that you are writing to someone outside your company. The exam gives you four things you need to say in your letter/email.
You have to write 60- 80 words.
You can download a sample paper of Writing Part Two here.
Common Mistakes (use the guide and you won’t make these mistakes).
Students sometimes use the wrong register/style in this part too. Or they do not use the same style in all of the letter/email. The advantage of this part is that you automatically have to use a formal/neutral style because you do not know this person. However, because you have to write a longer letter sometimes it is difficult to stay formal/neutral.
Students do not include all of the points. This “rule” is the same as in part one. It is essential to write about all of the points. If you do not, your letter/email cannot be completely correct. Your writing may be fantastic, with perfect grammar, amazing vocabulary and excellent style but it does not do everything required.
Students do not respect the word limit. If your letter is too long or too short, it is not correct. If the letter is too long then the examiner will not read all of the extra words. If it is too short then this is probably because the student has not included all the points.
Students do not write in paragraphs. This is extremely common. Too often when I am given written answers, I can see immediately that there is a problem because I can see one block of text.
Procedure - Read, Draft, Write.
Read the text, you only need to understand the general idea of this text.
Read the exam task and highlight the keywords of each of the four points. The tasks are usually things like thanking someone, accepting an invitation, telling someone something asking for something.
Write some draft notes. These notes will be the paragraph structure of your email/letter. Write a note of each of the four points mentioned.
Decide which of the four points could be connected in one long impressive sentence or at least one longer paragraph. Usually points two and three can go together.
- Write a polite opening to the letter, if you have a name then use it, e.g. Dear Mrs Jones, if there is no name write Dear Sir/Madam (not Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Sir or Dear Madam).
- Start with the first point, and write one sentence.
- Start a new paragraph and write about points two and three. If possible combine them in one sentence.
- Start a new paragraph and write about point four.
- Count the words and if you need more, then add a sentence like I look forward to hearing from you. Be careful with this sentence, please write it exactly as above, it is correct. The grammar looks strange but it is correct. Also, be sure that it is appropriate for your email. It means, “I want you to reply”. In some exam tasks it is not necessary.
- Finish the email with a polite closing, use yours sincerely if you used a name, and yours faithfully if you did not. You could also use best regards here if it is easier to remember.