Help with formal letter writing to a university

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Hello

I'm writing to complain on a drudgery of translating the logistics of the Polish Nowa Matura (high school end-exam) into English so that ***'s admission staff could understand what I'll be going through. I'm not very content with the length of the letter, so I have written down some suggestions at the end but I would like to ask you if you could review and edit my letter if necessary;].

------------------------------------------
Dear Sir or Madam.

I am writing inasmuch I would like to receive information on the acceptability of Polish qualifications. By dint of having studied carefully your website on requirements for prospective students from the EU I now have a general thought of ***’s admission standards but I am hoping for some further information referring my cause.
I will graduate from high school in June 2005 previously having taken the "Nowa Matura" ("The New Matura") exam.
Unlike in the old Matura exam, which was an internal exam followed by acquiring "Swiadectwo dojrzalosci" with each marks (from 1 - lowest to 6 - highest), the "Nowa Matura" is an external exam. It is not only more impartial but also Matura scores will be used for university admission purposes because the tests predict college success. Subject tests measure knowledge or skills in a particular subject and student’s ability to apply that knowledge. All official documents refer to the old Matura as to "Egzamin Dojrzalosci" and to "Nowa Matura" as to "Matura". It consists of two parts: oral and written, each consisting of compulsory and additional subject tests. Every subject test, excluding polish language test in oral part, can be passed on elementary or advanced level. Students who are to receive "Swiadectwo Maturalne" are expected to have taken following compulsory tests:

ORAL MATURA EXAM:
1. Polish Language Test (One-level test)
2. Modern Foreign Language Test (Elementary/advanced level. A student can choose from: English, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish and Slovak)
3. Minority Language Test (One-level exam. Refers to minority members)

WRITTEN MATURA EXAM:
[Student chooses level at which he wishes to take on]
1. Polish Language Test
2. Modern Foreign Language Test (It has to be the same language as chosen by a student in oral part of the exam)
3. A test from a subject of student’s individual choice from the following list: biology, chemistry, physics with astronomy, geography, history, history of music, history of art, mathematics, "wiedza o spoleczenstwie" and dance theory.
4. Minority Language Test (Refers to minority members)

In order to pass the Matura exam and acquire "Swiadectwo Maturalne" a student has to get at least 30 percent of maximum number of points available at the elementary level. In case of language exams a student has to get 30 percent of points both on oral and written parts.
In addition to compulsory subject tests student can choose up to three additional subject tests (from given list) which he has to take on advanced level.
In oral part of the exam a student can choose another modern foreign language test (different from the compulsory) and/or ethnical group language test.
In written part a student can choose up to three subject tests from the following: biology, geography, chemistry, physics with astronomy, history, history of music, history of art, computer science, Greek with antique culture, Latin with antique culture, modern foreign language (from the same group as in oral compulsory part), ethnical group language, mathematics, "wiedza o spoleczenstwie", dance theory.

"Wiedza o spoleczenstwie" stands for "society science" - it is a new subject which combines modern history, social science, pre-law studies, economy, journalism and politics. In Poland all major universities require prospective law students to have taken the "wiedza o spoleczenstiwe" Matura test on advanced level.
By 30 September we were to declare subjects taken on the Matura and their level. I have declared exams in advanced English, advanced history and advanced "wiedza o spoleczenstwie". I will be also taking on Polish language test (compulsory). In order to fulfil ***'s English language requirements I will be taking the IELTS.
I am interested in applying for admission to the LLB degree programme in Law and I would like to know how would my Matura scores be recognized by the *** ***? From the lecture of ***'s webpage for prospective students I have learned that I should consult Laws Faculty Office on the recognition of Access Courses. Does *** organizes such courses for prospective law students and should I pursue admission at one?
I look forward to receiving your reply. Please feel free to contact me for further information.

Yours Faithfully
Grzegorz G
------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. I wonder if I should parenthesis the informations regarding "Nowa Matura" from the words "Unlike in the old Matura exam..." to the words "In Poland all major universities require prospective law students to have taken the "wiedza o spoleczenstiwe" Matura test on advanced level." ??
2. Or should I cut the above part out and enclose it at the bottom of the letter. I would consider placing asterisk somewhere: maybe "By 30 September we were to declare subjects taken on the *** and their ***." ?
Don't be hard on me - it's my first serious formal letter:].

Looking forward to your suggestions.
New Member19
Grzesio,

Rather than plowing through your letter and trying to correct mistakes, let's try another approach.

1) Which university are you applying to?

2) What faculty are you applying to?

3) What is the web link that provides us with the entrance requirements?

<< I am interested in applying for admission to the LLB degree programme>>

If you are applying to a North American university, a law degree is usually considered a graduate degree, even though you are getting a bachelor's degree in law. So you will have to take some undergraduate courses first, and then apply to the law school. I am unsure how law degrees are treated/obtained in Europe.

MountainHiker
Senior Member2,528
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Hi!

I'm applying to University College (one of the colleges of the University of London), to the faculty of laws.

Here are some useful links:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate-degrees/indexes/index.shtml - faculty of laws
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate-degrees/laws/law/index.shtml - from here you're just one click away to their entry requirements for students from other EU countries (Poland is not listed;) ).

By the way: in England there are undergraduate law courses after which you get a LLB and also postgraduate courses - taking usually up to two years - offering a master's degree in law.

I've compared the UCL's entry requirements with these from the London School of Economics but LSE operates on out-of-date data (this is the point of explaining the ropes of "Nowa Matura" - I don't believe that anyone outside Poland knows about our new examination standards).
Greg,

From my brief read through the web site, all you need is C in the major courses. So to me, I think as long as you have reasonable grades plus proof of your English fluency, you shouldn't have too many difficulties.

With regard to your original letter, it contains too much information. Let's see if we can reduce the size of your letter.

Also, can you point them to information on Poland's marking system that is written in English? Can you simply enclose a brochure or letter that outlines how the Polish school grade or mark their students? My fear with including all your information is that the reader will become overwhelmed. It seems very complicated, unnecessarily so. I would try to find a link so that you can send this letter via e-mail.

When I spell checked your document, I changed "programme" to "program." "Program" is how it is spelled in North America, but it might be different in Britian. Please check and ensure you use the correct spelling.

I look forward to your reply Greg.

MountainHiker



Greg Poland
Your Address
City, Province/State
Poland
Email Removed

October 10, 2004

Admission Office
The International Office
University College London
Gower Street London
WC1E 6BT
Email Removed

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you to ascertain what are your requirements for entrance to your undergraduate law degree program for Polish students.

I will graduate in June 2005. I am presently taking the following courses:

1) Polish Language
2) Modern Foreign Language (English)
3) Minority Language (x?)
4) List your other courses

[Can you point them to information on Poland's marking system that is written in English? Can you simply enclose a brochure or letter that outlines how the Polish school grade or mark their students? My fear with including all your information is that the reader will become overwhelmed. It seems very complicated, unnecessarily so. I would try to find a link so that you can send this letter via e-mail.]

I am interested in applying for admission to the LLB degree program in Law. The information listed on your web site for EU students does not yet include information for Polish students. Thus, I am writing to you to seek further information.

I look forward to receiving your reply. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by e-mail, phone, or letter. [Be sure that you provide all the relevant details so that they can contact you. I would be inclined to shorten this to, "Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Email Removed." E-mail is fast and efficient. You don't want them sending you a letter for a simple question.]

Sincerely yours,
Grzegorz G
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MountainHiker,

Well that's a really optimistic appraisal - I hope you're right;].

Unfortunately there isn't any brochure explaining Poland's marking system and high school finishing exam (the Nowa Matura) written in English. In fact our government had provided us with a 50-pages textbook (slightly overwhelming ;]) which one daily compiled into more get-at-able form but in Polish. However I'll ask British Council whether they have something of this kind.

About the letter, now the form is more approachable - you've condensed my logorrhoea into a point statement;]. I have a few questions though.
I was to send this letter by e-mail all along (I guess I should rephrase the subject - "help with formal e-mail [...]" ;]) - shall I begin with

<Your Address
City, Province/State
Poland
Email Removed

October 10, 2004

Admission Office
The International Office
University College London
Gower Street London
WC1E 6BT
Email Removed>>

or e-mail is generally less formal?

<
1) Polish Language
2) Modern Foreign Language (English)
3) Minority Language (x?)
4) List your other courses>>

I'll try to outline some key facts regarding Matura and my courses in simple words:
I'm currently studying following subjects: biology, geography, chemistry, physics with astronomy, history, history of music, history of art, computer science, Latin with antique culture, English, French, mathematics, "wiedza o spoleczenstwie" ("social sciences").
In April I'll be taking my Matura Exam from the following subjects:
1) Polish Language
2) English Language
3) History
4) Social Sciences
all on advanced level. (It's a Matura scheme for prospective law students at Polish universities). This is the information I need to provide the admission office with - could you help me with expressing it properly?

BTW: programme/program - I found both forms in my dictionary, I'll ask my English teacher:]

Thank's for the great job you're doing, I look forward to your reply.
Hi Greg,

When I am doing something official, I tend to be formal, even if using e-mail. My standard protocol is to write the letter as though I were going to mail it. I use MS Word to write my letter. I then copy the contents on my letter into my e-mail. I also include my letter as an attachment. Some people think the formatting is important. But most people hate having to open an attachment just to read your e-mail.

So I do something like this.

My name and address.

Date

Their name and address.

Dear Sir:

Blah blah blah.
Blah blah blah.
Blah blah blah.
Blah blah blah.

Sincerely yours,
MountainHiker

Enclosure: blah.doc a copy of this letter in the e-mail.

Now if the person wants to open it up and print it out, she can. Most probably never even bother with the attachment.

But I do treat the e-mail as though it were a letter. To me it shows respect for the other person.

Of course, with friends and family, they just get a short e-mail without all the "niceties."

If you use the word "Matura" be sure to define it early in your letter. Those outside of Poland might not immediately understand Matura, though they will figure it out after looking at your letter.

In April, I will be taking Poland's comprehensive final exam for high school students, known as the Matura Exam" that covers the following subjects:

1) Polish Language
2) English Language
3) History
4) Social Sciences

Again, I don't recall if your Matura breaks out the results for individual courses. I think most universities want to know where your strengths and weaknesses are. For example, if you were applying to Engineering School, they would not care about how well you did in history, but would be very keen on your math, physics, and chemistry courses.

I hope this helps.

Regarding "program" versus "programme," I encourage you to ask that question in our Grammar section. You'll find it above our writing section.

Good luck.

MountainHiker
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Hi MountainHiker,

Subject tests on Matura are of student's individual choice but apart from Matura scores each student gets a high school leaving certificate in which final marks from all courses are indicated.

Presently the letter goes as follows, I'm only waiting for reply regarding program / programme issue and I'm going to send it.

If you have any other suggestions I would be happy to hear them.

Thank you very much for your help! I've learned a lot - You're doing a great job here.
___________________________________________________________________________
Grzegorz
27/5 *** Street
43-600 Jaworzno, Silesia
Poland
wafel@***.pl

October 10, 2004

Admission Office
The International Office
University College London
Gower Street London
WC1E 6BT
Email Removed

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you to ascertain what are your requirements for entrance to your undergraduate law degree program for Polish students.

I will graduate in June 2005. In April, I will be taking Poland's comprehensive final exam for high school students, known as the “Matura Exam" that covers the following subjects:

1) Polish Language
2) English Language
3) History
4) Social Sciences

I am interested in applying for admission to the LLB degree program in Law. The information listed on your web site for EU students does not yet include information for Polish students. Thus, I am writing to you to seek further information.

I look forward to receiving your reply. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at wafel@***.pl.

Sincerely yours,
Grzegorz - Just keeping your privacy Emotion: smile

Enclosure: mail1.doc a copy of this letter in the e-mail.
Hi,

Just slight edits.

Changed the first sentece, and inserted a comma on the second sentence after the word "exam". That's it.

Good luck!

MountainHiker



Grzegorz LastName
27/5 *** Street
43-600 Jaworzno, Silesia
Poland
wafel@***.pl

October 10, 2004

Admission Office
The International Office
University College London
Gower Street London
WC1E 6BT
Email Removed

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you to ascertain your entrance requirements to your undergraduate law degree program for students from Poland.

I will graduate in June 2005. In April, I will be taking Poland's comprehensive final exam for high school students, known as the “Matura Exam," that covers the following subjects:

1) Polish Language
2) English Language
3) History
4) Social Sciences

I am interested in applying for admission to the LLB degree program in Law. The information listed on your web site for EU students does not yet include information for Polish students. Thus, I am writing to you to seek further information.

I look forward to receiving your reply. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at wafel@***.pl.

Sincerely yours,
Grzegorz LastName

Enclosure: mail1.doc a copy of this letter in the e-mail.
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I am still not happy with that first sentence.

Come back in a couple hours and have a look. I will ask Mister Micawber or CalifJim to help.

MountainHiker
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