Do you know these 10 Facts about OET Writing?

Do you know these 10 Facts about OET Writing?
10 Facts about OET Writing

Important facts (tips & strategies) that every health care professionals should know about English for the healthcare sector and the following ten facts are especially for the nurses and medical professionals appearing for the OET writing section of Occupation English Test for health care or OET 2.0 exams

OET can be likened to the IELTS English language proficiency test, but more specifically for the healthcare sector

Do you know these ten Facts about OET Writing?

  1. It is not about summarizing but all about prioritizing. The writing task does not involve summarizing the given information. Rather the task achievement is easily met by selecting or prioritizing the information that is required for the reader to know and read and then write accordingly.

Understanding the task (who and why) is the most important part of the case notes to help you select case notes that are relevant.It is important to understand the task and the stimulus and then plan a response. The five minutes of reading time at the start of the Writing sub-test are given solely for this purpose. The “stimulus material” (case notes and/or other related documentation) provided include information as a reference to construct the letter must be used in one‟s response. The OET examiners purposefully put in irrelevant, unrelated case notes to distract you from the Task. If you have understood the task, your chances of completing the task successfully will increase dramatically.

Whether it is the test module for nurses, doctors, dentists or any other profession, Selection, Organisation and Transformation of the case notes are the crucial steps:

Selecting case notes

The UNIMPORTANT case notes put to distract you should not be included. For example, if you are writing to a doctor about a patient‟s diabetes, its irrelevant to include that they broke their wrist twelve years ago.

Organising case notes

Organisation of the case notes into neat paragraphs to have a CLEAR STRUCTURE is again very crucial. A mixture of all the case notes into what appears to be a paragraph with a space is the most common mistake made by OET candidates. The structure should be: Introductory sentence; The main issue; the secondary issue; any other relevant details; and most important, the request.

Transforming case notes

You must TRANSFORM the case notes; MUST NOT COPY them directly into your letter except in some cases where some case notes simply cannot be changed but most of the case notes are short and ungrammatical, and you must re-work them so that they make sense and fulfil the task



Using the information in the ‘stimulus’ notes, write a letter to Sr. Kajal Shah, Senior Nurse at Zydus nursing home, N-27 , S. G. Highway, who will be responsible for Mr Pillai’s continued care at the Nursing Home.

In your answer:1. expand the relevant notes into complete sentences. 2. do not use note form 3. use letter format. The body of the letter should be approximately 180-200 words.

Usually, the TASK will provide you with:

  • The recipient‟s name
  • The recipient‟s position/profession
  • The recipient‟s place of work and address
  • A reference to what type of letter you must write: referral, discharge, transfer or information.

You can also see or infer from the TASK whether the recipient knows the patient or whether you are introducing the patient to the recipient for the first time. Knowing this information is critical for case note selection.

For example,

In the TASK above, we can infer that Sr. Kajal knows Mr Pillai already.

Having read the TASK, you now know WHO you are writing to and WHY, so you should now take the next step and read the „stimulus‟ notes, paying special attention to the case notes that are pertinent to the TASK at hand.


Mr Pillai is a 79-year-old patient on the ward of a hospital in which you are Charge Nurse.

Patient Details:
Marital Status: Widower (8 years)
Admission Date: 3 September 2010 (City Hospital)
Discharge Date: 7 September 2010
Diagnosis: Left Total Hip Replacement (THR)
Ongoing high blood pressure

Social Background:

Lives at Zydus Nursing Home (ZNH) (4 years); No children; Employed as a radio engineer until retirement aged 65; Now aged-pensioner Hobbies:

chess, ham radio operator Sister, Dawn Mason (66), visits regularly; v supportive – plays chess with Mr Baker on her visits No signs of dementia observed

Medical Background:

2008 – Osteoarthritis requiring total hip replacement surgery

1989 – Hypertension (ongoing management)

1985 – Colles fracture, ORIF



Aspirin 100mg mane (recommenced post-operatively)

Ramipril 5mg mane

Panadeine Forte (co-codamol) 2 qid prn

Nursing Management and Progress:

daily dressings surgery incision site Range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises

Occupational therapy

Staples to be removed in two wks (21/9)

Also, follow-up FBE and UEC tests at City Hospital Clinic


Good mobility post-operation

Weight-bearing with use of wheelie-walker; walks length of ward without difficulty Post-operative disorientation re time and place during recovery, possibly relating to anaesthetic – continued observation recommended

Dropped Hb post-operatively (to 72) requiring transfusion of 3 units packed red blood cells; Hb stable (112) on discharge – ongoing monitoring required for anaemia

Discharge Plan:

Monitor medications (Panadeine Forte)

Preserve skin integrity

Continue exercise program

Equipment required: wheelie-walker, wedge pillow, toilet raiser. Hospital to provide walker and pillow.

Hospital social worker organised 2-wk hire of raiser from local medical supplier.           Sometimes the case notes will be written in short ungrammatical phrases, NURSING MANAGEMENT AND PROGRESS: daily dressings surgery incision site
A case note may also use an abbreviation, such as:

DISCHARGE PLAN Male Nurse hired: 2-wk hire of walker and airbed

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

PAST MEDICAL HISTORY: 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‟(irrelevant in the current task at hand) and a hernia mentioned in „admission diagnosis‟. Interpret case notes correctly



Remember, the case notes are rarely written in perfect sentences and are challenging to comprehend. So, „interpretation‟ then becomes a key factor. It is critical that you interpret the case notes correctly because misinterpretations will result in incorrect information being placed in your letter.



Ms Kajal Shah
 Senior Nurse
 Zydus Nursing Home
 27 S G highway Zydus
(Today’s date)
 Re: Mr Pillai, aged 79


Dear Sr. Kajal

Mr Pillair is being discharged from City Hospital back into your care today. He underwent a left total hip replacement. He has good mobility and can walk along the ward using a wheelie-walker without difficulty.

Mr Pillai was recommenced on 100mg Aspirin daily post-operatively. In addition to his usual treatment for hypertension, he requires pain relief (Panadeine Forte, max 8 tablets/day) and daily dressing changes. He is to undergo a series of range-of-motion, stretching and strengthening exercises, and occupational therapy, to ensure a full recovery.

We are sending a walker and wedge pillow with the patient. Our social worker has organised hire of a toilet raiser for two weeks.

During post-operative recovery Mr Pillai appeared disoriented. As there is no record of dementia, this may relate to the anaesthetic; continued observation is nevertheless recommended. His sister may be able to comment. Mr Pillai’s haemoglobin dropped post-operatively. He was transfused three units of packed red blood cells, without complication, and his Hb on discharge is stable (112). Please monitor for signs of anaemia.

 Mr Pillai will have his staples removed at City Hospital Clinic on 21 September. Follow-up blood tests recommended: (UEC, FBE) will also be conducted.

 Please contact me with any queries.

 Yours sincerely
Charge Nurse

From the sample answer, it is clear that this task is not about summarizing but all about prioritizing. Select or prioritize the information and ignore the irrelevant information providing only the relevant information that is required for the reader to know and read and then write accordingly


  1. It is not about complicated grammar or the number of grammatical mistakes you make, but rather, more about the range of grammar one can employ in one‟s writing and the accuracy with which it is employed. For grammar, range of grammar and accuracy in it is thus the main criteria for scoring and not the number of mistakes.

Grammatical accuracy accounts for only 20% but incomprehensible grammar can affect the overall score. After finishing the letter, one must check for mistakes with: Singular and plural nouns; Countable and uncountable nouns; Subject Verb agreement; Articles; Verbs; and Prepositions.

Differences in meaning when different verb tenses are used can also affect the scores.


  • Mr Pillai experiences memory losses. (regularly)
  • Mr Pillai experienced a memory loss. (in the past)
  • Mr Pillai is experiencing memory losses. (currently)

The matter needs to be grammatically accurate with sentences that give a clear meaning to the reader and also reflect the intended meaning of the stimulus.

Most importantly, one should make sure that a range of different sentence structures are included: Try to incorporate the different sentence structures, short simple, compound, complex, and mixed as well as some in active voice , some in passive voice and even use a few modal verbs. When doing this, make sure not to lose focus on the fact that the aim is to not to include these various sentence types but to communicate information as clearly as you possibly can, using these varied sentence types and grammar.



  1. It is not about how many words less or more you wrote, but it is all about how relevant or appropriate they are.

Selecting case notes is a challenging task by itself since notes do not always appear as clearly relevant or clearly irrelevant. This is very clear from the sample notes provided in the example and the sample response letter shown subsequently. Crucial decisions about which case notes to include and which to ignore can come only with practice. By practicing, you will also develop an understanding of how much you should include to write an appropriate length.

The word count is just to ensure that the task is appropriate…more words doesn‟t necessarily mean a penalty (There is no automatic penalty for writing over or under the word range for the task (180 – 200 words) unlike in the other proficiency exams like IELTS, PTE, etc.) or even extra marks. However, each task has been tailor made to be achieved within a particular word range. If there is significantly more matter, it is likely that irrelevant material has been included or the letter is not well organised and irrelevant details can definitely reduce the score.

If the words are less, on the other hand, the task may have been misunderstood or some vital information of the task and/or the case notes may have been missed. In either case, the scores for the assessment criteria for writing will reflect these weaknesses and hence affect the overall score.

  1. It is not about the number of paragraphs written; that is not fixed;-and totally dependent on the task at hand and on the case-notes given. You can decide the number and topic of paragraphs…here, the knowledge of the basics of paragraphing will be more useful than the number of paragraphs.

There should be a flow from beginning to end in a coherent and logical way. Although there‟s no „set structure‟ for OET writing, there are some guidelines that you should keep in mind when organising your letter:

  1. There should be an introductory paragraph containing the reason of writing the letter (i.e. refer, discharge, transfer) and the main medical issue. The important information should be clearly highlighted in the letter.
  2. Paragraphs must have a central topic and not have mixed information about 2 or more different points; it should be clear what the paragraph is about, not confusing.
  3. The internal structure of the paragraphs should be structured coherently with proper introduction, detailing and conclusion.

Always sketch out a rough draft of the points you want to elaborate and the simple paragraph structure before you start writing because once you start writing it‟s very difficult to restructure.

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.

It’s easy to prepare for the test with Acumen;- our OET Preparation Portal is worth checking out!

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.

Follow our blog at Acumen…….WATCH THIS SPOT FOR OET 2018 Test Updates………….

It’s easy to prepare for the test with Acumen;- our OET Preparation Portal is worth checking out!

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.

Follow our blog at Acumen…….WATCH THIS SPOT FOR OET 2018 Test Updates…………


English for health care professionals
English for medical professionals
Occupational English Test for health care
English for nurses and medical professionals


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