WASSCE/SSCE FORMAL LETTERS: THE SAFE APPROACHES
by Hassan Abdulbaqi
As vividly explained in SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT IN YOUR ENGLISH SSCE , you’ll be required to write an essay in the first part of your theory. You’ll also be asked to choose one from the five or six questions to write an essay on and MOST the time, formal and informal letters are always part of the questions you’ll be asked to choose from. This is why you should know what goes in your essays especially in the case of formal and informal letters since they’ll always be set in your examination.
Before you proceed, kindly read my post on letter writing. Formal letters are written to those in a position of authority and this makes them official. Due protocols must be observed. The position you are writing to matters the most, not the person occupying the position. If for example, your father is the Principal of your school and you want to write him as a student in the school, to hint him about problems or issues going on that he may not be aware of, you have to write a formal letter because you are writing your principal and not your father.
The reason why I want you to understand beyond the mere definition is that you won’t be asked to define any term in your English paper. If you check the available past questions you have with you, you’ll notice there is no such thing as “define…what is……how many types of….”. There are only practical questions! You’ll be asked to bring what you have learnt theoretically into practice. That is why you need more of understanding the concepts than memorizing them. So, like I said, know that formal letters are official letters that is written to a person in the position of authority.
Now, to the questions on formal letters. Try to understand the questions before choosing them for answers. Know all that the questions requires. For example, if you are asked to write a letter to your Local Government Area Education Secretary complaining about the closure of the school and request its re-opening in view of the problems being faced by both parents and children. The candidate should identify and discuss at least, three problems being faced by both the parents and children for a good mark. The problems caused must be directly caused by the closure of the school. Kind read my post: Four Tips for Scoring High in Your SSCE English to get more clue into this.
The first thing to write is the writer’s address followed by date at the right side of your answer sheet. See a sample:
No. 5 Omonira Street,
21st November, 2018.
After this, you write the title or name of position held by the receivers and his address at the left side of your answer sheet as evident in:
Qasdul-Sabeel Groups of School,
This should then be followed by “(Dear) Sir/Madam,”, note that the use of comma and that “Dear” is optional.
Then, you write your topic which must suit the content of your letter. You can read more about topics from my GIVING A SUITABLE TITLE.
In the body of your letter, the use of language should be official and very formal. You shouldn’t ask the wellbeing of the receiver or about his family relatives. Avoid the use of words that are used in everyday conversations (wetin dey? What’s up?), slangs (dry fish for Indian hemp), abbreviation or contracted form (like can’t for cannot, won’t for will not etc). You must express clarity in formal letters. After the body of your letter has been concluded, end your letter with “Yours faithfully,” then your signature and full name at the right side of your letter.
Note that the “Y” in “Yours” begins with capital letter but “f” in “faithfully” begins with small letters and you should not forget to add the comma. Then you follow it with your signature. Each name begins with a capital letter and you end with a full stop….and there you go!
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