4 Common Errors in OET Writing
4 Common Errors in OET Writing and How to Avoid Them
4 Common Errors in OET Writing: To ensure a high score, you must keep in mind several considerations when writing your OET letters, including grammatical accuracy, appropriate organization, correct spelling, formality, and other related factors.
We have spent a lot of time correcting responses to OET writing and there are a number of errors that we have seen repeated time and again, which, with a little bit more awareness and attention, could be easily avoided.
Therefore, in this blog, we will focus on some of these errors and provide some guidance which will very likely help to improve your writing. Here are the 4 common errors in OET writing and how to avoid them:
1. Punctuating your first paragraph:
Many of you are likely aware that the first paragraph should directly and immediately address the reason for writing the letter. For instance, if you are writing to a surgeon about a worsening case of arthritis. I frequently notice a punctuation errors in this section. Consider the following response: “What is the punctuation error?”
What is the punctuation error?
I am writing to refer the above-mentioned patient who has worsening osteoarthritis for a possible knee-joint replacement.
Did you get it? In order to answer the question, you need to first recognize that this sentence includes a lot of information. We require punctuation to establish which part of it is the main focus of the sentence and which part is additional but essential information. We can use commas to accomplish this, such as:
I am writing to refer the above-mentioned patient, who has worsening osteoarthritis, for a possible knee-joint replacement.
You can now see that the information highlighted in commas is the additional part of the sentence. We can remove it, and the sentence would still make sense and contain its main idea. However, it would lack the extra information that the use of commas allows us to provide. Alternatively, we could write the sentence as follows:
I am writing to refer the above-mentioned patient for a possible knee-joint replacement. She has a worsening case of osteoarthritis.
Using two sentences to convey the same information has a disadvantage, even though both sentences would be grammatically correct. We can avoid this disadvantage by linking ideas using commas correctly, which allows us to maintain clarity while expressing the same idea in just one sentence.
2. Errors using small numbers:
Another common error in OET writing tips comes with the use of small numbers. Let’s take another example, and see if, this time, you can spot two errors:
The patient presented with a 2 weeks history of migraines.
How did we do? Well, the first and most obvious error here is with the use of the number “2” rather than the word “two”. In formal writing, we ought to use words rather than numbers when the numbers are small, so, basically, any number from one to ninety-nine ought to be written as a word. Numbers from 100 and above can be written as a number.
You should follow this convention while providing tips for writing OET letters. The second mistake involves the use of the word “weeks” instead of the correct form, which is “week”. The reason behind this is that “two-week” should be linked as an adjectival phrase instead of being considered as two separate words.
When used as an adjectival phrase, “two-week” functions to qualify the noun “history”. When a number is used as an adjective, it should be directly linked to the following adjective. Therefore, since “week” is also an adjective in this sentence, it should not be pluralized. The correct form of the sentence would be:
The patient presented with a two-week history of migraines.
The small number has now been correctly written as a word and it has been linked to the following adjective.
3. Including medical history too early:
I often observe this common error while reviewing OET writing guidelines. The guidelines suggest structuring your letters in a way that presents the most relevant information at the beginning. Let’s take a case and evaluate the issues it may cause for the reader.
I am writing to refer the above-named patient, with the preliminary diagnosis of type two diabetes mellitus, into your care for further evaluation and treatment.
Mr. Collister is married and works as a factory foreman. On his visit, three months back, he was advised about lifestyle modification due to his raised BMI of 30 and his susceptibility to osteoarthritis.
The problem in this case is related to cohesion. Consider this: The first paragraph concentrates on the main issue, namely type two diabetes, while the second paragraph shifts the focus to osteoarthritis.
This is confusing for the reader as no logical link is provided between the first and second paragraphs. If the medical history is directly relevant to the referring case then, yes, include it early in the letter but if it is essentially operating as background to the main issue, include it later in the letter to avoid confusing the reader.
4. Ending your letter with the second conditional:
To wrap up, here’s another aspect of medical English grammar. It is common for students to conclude their OET letters using a second conditional structure, which is a good approach. However, the problem arises when they make mistakes in using the second conditional. Let’s consider one final example:
I would be grateful if you advise her on her diet and help her with her activities of daily living.
So, what’s the problem here? Well, let’s look at the structure. So we have a “would” clause at the beginning of the sentence and we have an “if” clause following it. “Would” + “if” = a second conditional sentence and, in a second conditional sentence, we should be using the past tense forms of the verbs. So, it should look like this:
So, let’s examine the sentence structure and identify the issue. The sentence starts with a “would” clause, followed by an “if” clause. Combining “would” and “if” creates a second conditional sentence. In a second conditional sentence, we should use the past tense forms of the verbs. Therefore, the correct form of the sentence would be:
I would be grateful if you advised her on her diet and helped her with her activities of daily living.
Now, you don’t have to be a grammar expert, necessarily, to get this right. Just remember that “would” + “if” = past tense verb forms, and you will be fine. The second conditional is a very common way of making a polite request, so it is worth getting it right.
In conclusion, writing errors can have a negative impact on your OET score. To avoid common mistakes, review your writing for poor sentence structure, inappropriate use of tenses, incorrect spelling and grammar, and poor organization. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to achieve a high score in the OET writing subtest.
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