Do you know that it's a mistake to use contractions, such as 'I'm' or 'they've'?
Do you know why?
Let's say that you want to write a formal letter or e-mail in accordance with the requirements of the STANAG 6001 English exam at level 3. There are certain requirements you have to meet to be successful. 
One of them is formal language.



So, what are the characteristics of formal language?
Look at the following comparison to see the difference between the formal and informal style.
  • use of passive voice
  • lack of contractions
  • use of impersonal structures
  • points and listing
  • avoiding first (I, we) or second person (you) point of view
  • full sentences
  • full words
  • impersonal
  • objective
  • complex
  • long sentences
  • linking words
  • simple
  • direct
  • friendly
  • short sentences
  • personal
  • contractions
  • broken syntax (unfinished
  • sentences, lack of subject)
  • abbreviations
Do you know now why it's a mistake to use contractions? Yes, they are characteristic of the informal style.
With one of the exam requirements being that your writing needs to be consistently formal, you must eliminate contractions from your style, just as, for example, the use of 'I' and 'we' as they introduce personal opinions and point of view, which is characteristic of the informal style. 
Analyse the above list to be sure what to avoid in formal writing.


Another thing which is characteristic of formal writing is the structure/layout of the text.
It is clearly divided into paragraphs which serve differnt functions and are logically connected.
Look at the following letter/e-mail layout to see what the essential elements of this form of writing are. It comes from my book "Speaking and Writing Expert. How to Pass STANAG 6001 English Exam. Level 3."
At the level 3 STANAG exam, the instruction usually requires you to write three paragraphs (three different points to cover).


To fulfil all the formal requirements, it's also necessary to start and end a letter with an appropriate greeting. They differ depending on who you're writing to and if it's a letter or an e-mail.
Here is a comparison also coming from the "Speaking and Writing Expert. How to Pass STANAG 6001 English Exam. Level 3."




There are also some specifics of the exam that are worth knowing. So, while at the exam remember:
  • not to sign the letter/e-mail with a real or invented name, always write XYZ
  • to follow the instruction closely
  • that each point of the instruction should correspond to a separate paragraph
  • to start each paragraph with a topic sentence (see paragraph development)
  • to check if you have covered all the points of the instruction (if you do not, you will not receive more than 6 points for this task - see exam requirements)


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