Flo-Joe for Cambridge English Exams

Cambridge English: Proficiency

Check out students' answers to Flo-Joe's CPE Writing tasks with a teacher's feedback

Writing Class: Letter to a Magazine

Task Type: Letter to a Magazine

A health magazine that you subscribe to has recently published a number of different views from its readers on the topic of complementary (or 'alternative') medicine. Some of these viewpoints are summarised below. You decide to write to the magazine editor giving your own opinion:

"The current trend for alternative medicine is the worst kind of intellectual folly. Most evidence of its so-called results is based on anecdotes. Even worse, alternative practitioners are not even regulated in the way that the medical profession is".

"Complementary therapies like acupuncture or homeopathy can be a great way to treat conditions that conventional drugs do not always heal - like anxiety problems."

"People should choose whatever form of treatment - conventional or complementary - which makes them feel better. So what if we don't always have a scientific explanation about how alternative therapies work?""

Write your letter for the magazine editor, but do not use postal addresses. (around 280 - 320 words)

Makeover: Koichi

Read Koichi's answer to this question. Try correcting the piece of writing yourself first: use the marking codes to think about what might be wrong (or what's good) about the piece of work. Then when you're ready, click the green buttons in the text for our feedback.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

It was with great interest that I read different ideas from your readers about the subject of complementary medicine, which appeared in last month's magazine. I found those views thought-provoking. I was very glad to be given the opportunity to express my candid opinion.

I partially agree with the writer of your first piece. It is true that myriads of alternative medical treatments lack hard evidence. Many experts are concerned that several alternative practitioners may overemphasise the effectiveness of their new therapeutic methods without providing valid evidence. In fact, quite a few innocent people were WT deceived by wicked practitioners and lost WT a fortune while their health problems were never solved or got even worse. Like the first writer, I feel that practitioners of complementary medicine should be strictly regulated by setting and enforcing more stringent medical laws.

However, I do not necessarily deny T, /\ all alternative medical treatments. In fact, some therapies seem to be helpful. In my case, I suffered from chronic back pain for about ten years. I went to countless hospitals and received traditional medical treatments. Unfortunately, none worked for my severe pain. Nevertheless, one of my acquaintances introduced to me WO a skillful practitioner, who offered me Chinese medicine and acupuncture treatment. Gradually, my pain was reduced and finally, I was able to treat the excruciating pain completely WW I have found many similar examples so far. Therefore, I believe that several complementary treatments could be quite useful.

Finally, I cannot WT agree with the writer of your third point more. It totally depends upon you as to which form of medical treatment you will eventually choose, despite its level of validity. The most important thing is how much satisfied PE with the therapy you would feel, whether it be conventional or alternative.

Hopefully, all people WW will be able to undergo proper treatments WF to lead healthy lives.

Yours faithfully,


You have provided a full and very thoughtful response to the task, dealing with your views of the pros and cons of complimentary medicine. The reader would be fully informed of your opinions.

Communicative Achievement
You have written the letter in a consistently neutral, serious register which is entirely in keeping with the target audience and the subject matter. The reader would be fully engaged throughout and the letter would stand a very good chance of being published.

The letter is clearly organised with a logical use of paragraphs. Good use of linking words such as 'in fact', 'nevertheless', unfortunately', 'therefore' and 'finally'. You have also used more advanced cohesive devices well, particulalry the use of relative pronouns to refer back to previously mentioned points.

There is ample evidence of your ability to use advanced English to express quite complex ideas. Some well-constructed sentences and good choices of vocabulary. Note the following:

  • You used the word ‘treatment’ quite a lot. I think to avoid repetition, you could substitute it sometimes with therapy/therapies. Also, we tend to use ‘treatment' in the singular when talking about it in general terms as in the final paragraph.
  • I thought the present perfect would be better in the second paragraph. It creates more impact than using the past. I didn’t correct all the verbs here as I thought ‘solved’ and ‘got’, could be situated in the past.

Well done!

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Marking Code

/\ Word(s) missing

- Omit word

C Capitalization

Gd Good

O Organisation

P Punctuation

PE Poorly expressed

R Register/Formality

SS Sentence Structure

S Spelling

T Tip

WF Wrong form

WO Word order

WT Wrong tense

WW Wrong word