How to Pass OET Writing: Best Tips and Solutions!

This blog provides advice on how to pass the OET writing examination, including the examiner's scoring guidelines, a description of each paragraph, and more.

How to Pass the OET Writing Test in 2023-2024?


In this lesson, we will break down the key criteria for passing the OET Writing exam and how to pass it. Understanding what examiners look for in your writing is essential for success. There are six criteria your writing is assessed against, and we’ll delve into each one to provide a comprehensive understanding of what’s expected on the OET Writing test.


Purpose: Ensuring Clarity and Relevance


  • The purpose of your letter is immediately apparent: Your introduction should provide a clear and concise purpose for the letter. For instance, if you’re writing about a patient’s discharge, the introduction should immediately convey this purpose. An example: “Mr. Lionel Rama Murthy was admitted on the 4th of February 2019 having contracted pneumonia. He is now ready for discharge back into your care tomorrow.”
  • The purpose of your letter is sufficiently expanded: After introducing the purpose, you need to elaborate on it. Provide additional relevant details and context that the recipient needs to understand the situation. Avoid relying on templates and tailor the content to the specific case. For example, you could describe the patient’s symptoms and condition in more detail, as shown in the example.


Content: Tailoring Information for Your Reader


  • The content of your letter is appropriate to your intended reader: Consider who your letter is addressed to (e.g., a specialist, nurse, or GP) and ensure that all information included is relevant and suitable for that reader. Adapt your writing style and content accordingly.
  • The content of your letter accurately represents the case notes: Your interpretation of the case notes should be precise and faithful to the information provided. Avoid adding your own opinions or judgments about the patient’s condition. Stick to the facts presented in the case notes.


Conciseness and Clarity: Crafting a Well-Structured Letter


  • The length of your letter is appropriate to the case and reader: Aim for a letter length of approximately 180 to 200 words in the body of your letter. This range ensures that you neither omit essential information nor include irrelevant details.
  • You summarized information effectively: Summarize the case notes efficiently and accurately. Condense the information provided in the case notes into clear and concise sentences, as demonstrated in the example.
  • You clearly presented information: Ensure that the information in your letter flows logically and is presented in a clear and organized manner. Each paragraph should contribute to the overall coherence of the letter.


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Genre and Style: Maintaining a Clinical and Appropriate Tone


  • Your writing is clinical and factual: Maintain a clinical tone throughout your letter. Avoid injecting personal opinions or judgments into your writing. Stick to the medical facts presented in the case notes.
  • Your writing is appropriate to the reader’s discipline and knowledge: Tailor your language and content to the reader’s level of expertise. Be cautious when giving instructions or recommendations, especially when writing to specialists. Frame your suggestions as requests or suggestions rather than direct instructions.
  • You use technical terms, abbreviations, and polite language appropriately: When using technical terms and abbreviations, ensure that they are universally understood or mentioned in the case notes. Use polite language and avoid contractions and overly informal language.


Organization and Layout: Creating a Logical and Well-Structured Letter


  • Your organization is appropriate, logical, and clear: Organize your letter logically, with each paragraph serving a distinct purpose. Your letter should read like a narrative, leading the reader from the introduction to the conclusion.
  • Key information needs to be highlighted: Prioritize and place important information near the beginning of your letter. Structure your paragraphs from most important to least important, helping readers quickly grasp essential details.
  • Your sub-sections are well-organized: If your letter includes sub-sections, ensure they are clearly separated and structured logically. This makes it easier for the reader to navigate and understand your letter.
  • Your letter is well laid out: Pay attention to formatting details, such as the recipient’s name and address, date, and closing. While these elements may vary slightly, ensure your letter’s body adheres to proper paragraphing and layout.


Language: Prioritizing Clarity Over Complexity


  • Your overall language use makes meaning clear: Emphasize clarity over complexity. While vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation are important, prioritize making your message immediately understandable. Focus on delivering information clearly rather than showcasing a wide vocabulary range.

In summary, passing the OET Writing test requires a comprehensive understanding of the six assessment criteria. Tailoring your writing to the purpose, content, conciseness, genre, organization, and language demands of the test is essential. Practice and careful preparation will help you achieve success in this challenging exam.


Now, let’s look at the OET Writing Marking Criteria in detail and understand how to pass the exam!


1. Purpose (Scored from 0 to 3):

1A. The purpose of your letter is immediately apparent.

This means that your introductory paragraph should clearly state the reason for writing the letter. It should be straightforward and instantly convey the main intention. Here’s an example:

Example: “Dear Dr. Smith, I am writing to provide an update on the progress of our patient, Mr. John Doe, who was admitted to our hospital with a severe respiratory infection on May 10th, 2023.”

1B. The purpose of your letter is sufficiently expanded.

After stating the primary purpose, you should elaborate on it by providing relevant details. This helps the reader understand the context and importance of the letter. Continuing from the previous example:

Example: “Mr. Doe’s condition has improved significantly since his admission. However, there are some lingering concerns we need to address regarding his treatment and follow-up care.”

2. Content (Scored from 0 to 7):

2A. The content of your letter is appropriate to your intended reader.

Your letter’s content should be tailored to the specific healthcare professional you’re addressing. If you’re writing to a nurse, include details that concern nursing care. If it’s a specialist, focus on relevant medical information. Here’s an example:

Example: “As a surgeon, you’ll be interested to know that Mr. Doe underwent a successful appendectomy last week, and I believe his recovery is progressing as expected.”

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2B. The content of your letter is appropriate to continue care.

Ensure that your letter contains essential information necessary for the recipient to continue providing care effectively. Avoid omitting crucial case details.

Example: “For Mr. Doe’s ongoing care, it’s essential to monitor his vital signs, administer prescribed medications, and ensure he adheres to a strict post-operative diet plan.”

2C. The content of your letter accurately represents the case notes.

Interpret the case notes accurately, even if they are in a shorthand or abbreviated form. Stick to the facts presented in the notes and avoid making assumptions.

Example: “According to the case notes, Mr. Doe experienced acute abdominal pain and fever prior to his surgery. These symptoms led to the decision for an emergency appendectomy.”

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3. Conciseness and Clarity (Scored from 0 to 3):

3A. The length of your letter is appropriate to the case and reader.

Your letter should be neither too short, leaving out crucial information, nor excessively long, including irrelevant details. Maintain an appropriate word count.

Example: A well-structured letter with approximately 200 words that concisely conveys all necessary information.

3B. You summarized information effectively.

Summarize complex information from the case notes in a clear and concise manner, avoiding unnecessary repetition.

Example: “In summary, Mr. Doe’s symptoms on admission included fever, chest and abdominal pain, wheezing, and sleeplessness.”

3C. You clearly presented information.

Ensure that your sentences flow logically and coherently. Use clear language to convey your message. Avoid convoluted or confusing sentences.

Example: “After a week in the hospital, Mr. Doe’s breathing problems have improved, but he still experiences chest and abdominal pain along with a dry cough.”

4. Genre and Style (Scored from 0 to 7):

4A. Your writing is clinical and factual.

Maintain a clinical tone, focusing on the facts without injecting personal opinions, judgments, or emotions into your letter.

Example: “Mr. Doe’s vital signs have stabilized, and his medication regimen is being closely monitored for effectiveness.”

4B. Your writing is appropriate to the reader’s discipline and knowledge.

Adapt your writing style and level of technicality to suit the recipient’s background. Avoid overly technical language when writing to non-specialists.

Example: “As a specialist in cardiology, you will appreciate the importance of monitoring Mr. Doe’s cardiac function due to his history of heart disease.”

4C. You use technical terms, abbreviations, and polite language appropriately.

Use technical terms and abbreviations when they are standard and universally understood. Employ polite language and avoid overly casual expressions.

Example: “Please consider administering a 12-lead ECG to assess Mr. Doe’s cardiac status. We kindly request your expertise in this matter.”

5. Organization and Layout (Scored from 0 to 7):

5A. Your organization is appropriate, logical, and clear.

Organize your letter logically, following a clear structure that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each paragraph should have a distinct purpose.

Example: Introduction > Patient Progress > Medication Update > Follow-up Instructions > Conclusion.

5B. Key information is highlighted.

Prioritize important information by placing it at the beginning of the letter or in separate sections, ensuring it stands out for the reader.

Example: “I would like to highlight Mr. Doe’s recent surgery, changes in medication, and the need for post-operative monitoring.”

5C. Subsections are well-organized.

If your letter includes subsections or paragraphs, structure them logically, with clear headings or transitions.

Example: “Medication Update” followed by “Follow-up Instructions,” each containing relevant details.

5D. Your letter is well laid out.

Pay attention to formatting, including proper headings, date, salutation, and closing. Keep the letter’s body organized with consistent paragraph spacing.

Example: “Dear Dr. Smith, [Body of the letter] Sincerely, [Your Name]”

6. Language (Scored from 0 to 6):

6A. Your overall language use makes meaning clear.

Prioritize clarity over complexity. Ensure that your sentences are easy to understand and convey the intended message clearly.

Example: “Mr. Doe’s condition improved after treatment” (Clear) rather than “Mr. Doe’s condition ameliorated post-treatment” (Complex).

In summary, the OET Writing exam assesses your ability to communicate effectively in a healthcare context. Adhering to these criteria and practicing with real-case scenarios will improve your chances of passing the exam successfully.

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