Use these 5 tips to score high in OET Writing test

Use these 5 tips to score high in OET Writing test

Templates can be only 50% helpful in improving your Writing score for the OET Exam. Many Students feel that templates are necessary for the letter-writing task but they fail to realise that the letter will tend to be incomplete unless the students are able to fill in the gaps with their own ideas.

Many other students worry that the memorized transition phrases of the templates will bring down the overall score but it is a myth; in fact, using the template and not being able to tailor it to the task at hand is what can be disastrous….so, simply put, learning to structure the template they are planning on using is the trick to use a template successfully.

Even native English speakers memorize outlines and impressive phrases to structure their writing. So, Templates  have the ability to give you high-scoring linking phrases, including excellent vocabulary, for higher scores in Cohesion/Coherence and Vocabulary but you need to know where to put your ideas/ answers in the template or it is a recipe for disaster.

Example Template:

Recepient’s Name:

Street Address
City, State, Zip code

Current date:
Re: Patient Name and date of birth

Dear Dr./Ms./Mr.

Begin with showing gratitude and a reason and purpose for the referral.

A relevant case history, general to specific order, current vital signs or condition of the patient, current medications as well as the most recent therapy and/or treatment the patient has undergone and the patient’s response to said treatment, all need to be provided in this paragraph.

State or restate the specific reason for referral and request. What action do you want the recipient of the letter to take also needs to be highlighted and elaborated in this paragraph.

Your name,


Comprehension of the stimulus material or case notes:

 The case notes are rarely, if ever written in perfect sentences and can be somewhat challenging to understand. Therefore, the need of the hour will be to ‘interpret’ them accurately. It is extremely crucial that the stimulus is interpreted correctly because misinterpretations will result in incorrect information being placed in your letter and therefore failure of task achievement.

Interpreting case notes correctly:

If one has read the TASK, in detail, then WHO one is writing to and WHY is very clear; the next step follows the reading of the case notes, with special attention to case notes that are relevant to the TASK.

The case notes may or may not be written in perfect or complete sentences and are purposely made a little challenging to understand. Sometimes the case notes will be written in short ungrammatical phrases;-


daily dressings surgery incision site

A case note may also use an abbreviation, which needs to be ‘interpreted’ accurately.


Social worker organised 2-wk hire of walker

In addition, case notes may even include symbols such as arrows.


Eyesight ↓ due to cataracts removed 16 mths ago

It is also critical to pay attention to the sub-heading or category that a

specific case note is under. Compare these two case notes:




There are important differences between a hernia mentioned in ‘past medical history’ and a hernia mentioned in ‘admission diagnosis’.

Thus. it is critical that you interpret the case notes correctly because misinterpretations will result in incorrect information being placed in your letter.

Selecting relevant case notes

After you have read and correctly interpreted the case notes, the next step is to decide about case note relevance. The body of your letter should only be between 180 and 200 words, so, we cannot include all of the case notes. Again, you need to make sure you are writing a relevant letter, and that largely depends on the TASK. Make sure you understand the TASK fully and you know who you are writing to and why.

Write the letter for – and only for – the recipient, keeping his or her needs in mind at all times.

Selecting case notes, however, is challenging because while some case notes will clearly be relevant and irrelevant, others will be semi-relevant. You have to make decisions about which case notes to include and which case notes to ignore. This is why practice is so important: By practicing the OET writing sub-test, you will develop an understanding of how many case notes you should include in order to write an appropriate length. You do not want to write a letter on test day that is well below or well above the word count.

Many of you think Using short forms or brackets can reduce the word is not a formal style..and as discussed earlier..word count is not a criteria.

Formal punctuation
Did you know that some English punctuation symbols have a level of formality? Some symbols are neutral. These have to be used whenever we write such as full stops, question marks and capital letters but even these can get missed off or used incorrectly in certain types of informal writing. Colons and semi-colons definitely belong to the formal types of writing while exclamation marks belong to informal types of writing!!!

Brackets or parentheses are fairly neutral but are most regularly seen in informal writing as a means of adding extra ideas to the main point. They can often be replaced by commas. In the example in the image above, the brackets can be replaced with commas:

Miss Wang is prescribed Amoxicillin, 1g twice daily, and Omeprazole, 20mg twice daily.

Alternatively, as the frequency of the dose is the same, the sentence could be improved further to:

Miss Wang is prescribed Amoxicillin, 1g, and Omeprazole, 20mg, both to be taken twice daily.

The OET Writing task is to write a formal letter. Small things like using brackets can have an impact on your reader’s understanding of the.

Mr Ferguson is prescribed Metformin ( 2mg mornings) and (Lactulose, 50mg of syrup, taken after lunch.

Brackets can be replaced with commas for a more formal writing style. Here is how the example in the image above can use commas instead of brackets:

Mr Ferguson is prescribed Metformin, a 2mg tablet taken in the morning, and Lactulose, 50mg of syrup, taken after lunch.

Some students would put the doses of the 2 medications in brackets but, in general, brackets should be avoided in formal writing. Commas work well here to separate the dose from the name of the medication.

Here’s another example:

Please monitor Mrs Walker’s compliance with her medication. She is prescribed Warfarin, 1 tablet to be taken in the morning, and Ventolin, to be taken as required.

Commas have many uses. to introduce the patient’s family members in your letter.

Dashes are also considered to be a form of informal punctuation. When writing a formal letter or other kind of document, some punctuation symbols are best avoided because of their informality. Dashes are one example, exclamation marks are another. To avoid them, replace with a more formal punctuation alternative.

For example, a comma or even a colon could replace the dash as shown..

Max was accompanied by his mother, Sofia.

A colon is also a better option than dashes when writing a list of items. It’s also  possible to reorder the planned sentence. Or you can do both


 Mr Erikson’s current medication – warfarin and Pulmicort – need review at his next consultation.

At his next consultation, Mr Erikson needs a review of his current medication: warfarin and Pulmicort.

Remember, dashes are different to hyphens. A dash – is longer than a hyphen -. Hyphens are used in compound nouns such as ice-cream or to show the link between multi-word phrases e.g. 21-years-old. Hyphens are appropriate in formal writing.

Practice of writing multiple letters in mock exams online or in private tuition may not improve the score but getting the practice letters evaluated by a language expert like ACUMEN and then improving on those areas is the key

A minimum of 2 trained Assessors independently mark the candidate’s performance on the Writing sub-test and neither knows what scores the other assessor has given, or what scores have been achieved by the candidate on any of the other sub-tests. Each assessor scores your performance against the following criteria and receives a band score for each criterion:

  • Overall Task Fulfilment
  • Appropriateness of Language
  • Comprehension of Stimulus
  • Linguistic Features (grammar and cohesion)
  • Presentation Features (spelling, punctuation, layout)

These five criteria are assessed on a scale of 0 to 6 and are equally weighted. The language expert chosen (Trained to assess like these assessors at OET) will point out the criteria which highlights your shortcomings and guide you to improve on your scores.

Most recognising boards and councils require candidates to score at least 350 in each of the four sub-tests. However, to make sure you are up-to-date with requirements, always check with the relevant boards and councils that regulate your profession. A score of 350 (previously grade B) for Writing requires a high level of performance on all these five criteria.

You should certainly practice writing OET sub-tests before test day and it is a very good idea to use a strategy as described in the general FAQs in the previous blog notes, while you practice. Most importantly, organise your writing logically. •

Please see and note the criteria given in the following table:

(insert table of writing assessment criteria)

It is not about how much of an expert health care professional you are or how much you know about the healthcare topic in question, but it is more about how you present what you know or rather, what is given in the best possible language that is also easy to comprehend.

The task is evaluated by language trainers not medical experts…… its important to keep in mind that it is ultimately the language that  is being evaluated.

Spelling mistakes and punctuation errors are some important aspects included under Presentation Features; so, any spelling mistakes will be taken into account and affect your final score for Presentation Features. Evaluation of your task by your friends or those students who have passed the test before is not enough. You need an expert language trainer to assess your level and guide you.

Follow our blog for stories about people like you and connect with them on a personal level on social media to remove your doubts and get your queries answered first hand.

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Find Out More and put all your fears to rest, Acumen has the best trained faculty that can coach you in the new format and help you get your desired results.

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