OET Writing – A Complete Guide

I have heard several OET aspirants complaining that OET writing is the most confusing module in OET. It is mainly because of their unawareness regarding selecting relevant data from the case note and its systematic organization. I have written this article to help those medical professionals who find it hard to draft a well-organized letter in OET writing.

OET writing consists of only one task, which lasts for 45 minutes with a maximum score of 500 ( A grade). In OET writing, the candidate must compose a letter in a medical context in 3 to 5 paragraphs with a word limit of 180 to 200.


OET writing is not only the most challenging subtest in OET, but also it is one of the most creative areas in the exam, where the test takers can exhibit their command of language and optimal potential by including all the essential information needed in the given scenario for the readers to understand. It is not about how proficient you are in the language. Still, the assessors measure how well you have made use of your writing skills in presenting the purpose or intention of the letter in the professional context with the aid of suitable lexis and sentence structure.


Unlike the other three modules, you will receive a single task in OET writing. You will have first to understand the essence of the case note and decide on the kind of letter you need to write for which you can use the first five minutes of the test. 

To be precise, out of 45 minutes, you can utilize the first 5 minutes for the proper preparation- including sorting out the relevant data and plotting the whole structure. Then, you will get exactly 40 minutes to put down the answer in the sheet.

The only method to ensure that you have produced an accurate answer or letter you must regularly practise writing letters on various situations in the workplace. You may have to use common terms and expressions related to your profession repeatedly.

From this single task, the test developers or assessors aim to evaluate your understanding of language related to your professional scenario. Only through proper practice will you be able to complete the task in the given time, which is very much essential for getting the desired score.

What is the passing score of OET writing?

The passing score of OET writing is similar to that of the other three modules, though the mode of assessment is different. In some countries like New Zealand and Australia, the candidate should get a B grade, that is 350 marks out of 500, to clear the test. Whereas, in some other countries like the UK, if you can score C+ (300 marks), you can pass the test, provided you have scored the required score in the other three modules.

The desired score for the OET writing sub-test varies depending on the medical council in different countries that you opt for.  Getting a B grade on the writing test is easy for those who have taken consistent practice.

Before starting the preparation for the test, the candidate should be aware of the score required to get a job in each country so that he or she can intensify the level of practice by the marks needed to crack the test. 

To calculate your oet score, use our OET calculator; click here


The first and foremost technique to improve the writing skills of the OET aspirant is “practice”. Only through consistent practice one can easily find out:

Who the intended reader is, what does the writer want the reader to do, and what all information does the reader need to infer.

The main points one needs to bear in mind for enhancing the writing skills as follows:

  1. Understand the assessment criteria of the task and plan the letter accordingly
  2. Refer to sample OET letters and get an idea about the letter’s structure.
  3. Learn to finish off the task in 40 minutes. Within 40 minutes, you need to complete the task and check for grammatical and spelling errors.
  4. Learn to complete the preparation of the letter in 5 minutes before writing. Number the ideas you have selected from the case note for structuring your letter. 
  5. Consider the feedback of your answer from experts and make changes accordingly.
  6. Get a better understanding of basic English grammar required in OET writing.
  7. Update the vocabulary skills, especially those related to your profession.
  8. Learn to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant data.
  9. Practice daily.

Those candidates who are less confident about gaining a B grade in OET writing must take classes from an expert OET trainer so that he or she will get the corrections of the letters and the feedback, which enables the student to find out their weaker areas and work on them. Another effective method is watching youtube and referring to the samples given on various OET websites. 

Gathering information from different sources is necessary but do not get confused by following various methodologies adopted by each trainer. Always relying on the pattern mentioned in the official websiteOpens in a new tab. will be more helpful to avoid dilemmas.

Why do people fail in OET writing?

It is a fact that many people have failed the OET exam since they were unable to get a pass mark for the OET writing module. . Some of them have faced the situation several times. There are a couple of reasons which always stand as hindrances before them each time when they appear for the test. Let’s see what they are:

  • Lack of consistent practice: The primary reason behind the failure of most of the candidates is that they have not practiced well in advance. Even if you are good at using the English language, it is important you must know what to write and what not to. For developing OET writing skills, it is always better to practice.
  • Lack of vocabulary: Another major reason is the candidate’s ignorance in placing proper connectors and expressions in the letter. They repeatedly use the same terms, which can be a reason for losing marks.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors: This is completely related to the test taker’s proficiency in the language. Even though the candidate can write a letter with proper structure and content, if he or she makes lots of grammatical and spelling mistakes, the person has less scope for clearing the test.
  • Depending on too many sources: The candidate must understand the reality that consuming information from too many sources will lead to confusion, and you may not be able to identify which one is correct. Eventually, you may follow the incorrect method, affecting your performance during the test.

Do you have to use a template for your OET writing letter?

There are a plethora of formats or templates that are available for the candidate to follow while writing an OET letter. Regarding the change in the context and theme, the writer is free to choose the template that he or she finds appropriate.

The candidate can surely expect high marks if the letter has a proper layout and organization. Things to notice while choosing a template for oet letter:

  1. The introduction paragraph must bear the full name of the patient and the intention of the letter. In addition, there should be a short summary of the patient’s condition as well.
  2. While preparing the main body paragraphs, the candidate may rely on any of the three given structures based on the identity of the reader and the medical condition of the patient:
  • Thematic structure: This structure is used when there is a lot of information about the patient that should be revealed in the letter. In this case, the information with utmost importance will be mentioned first. Placing information based on its importance is termed a thematic structure.
  • Chronological structure: as the name indicates, this method is used to arrange information chronologically, which means the pieces of information will be disclosed in the order in which it happened. The present condition or the latest happening will be mentioned in the final paragraphs. If the reader wants to know about only the current situation, then he or she can directly go to the last part of the letter.
  • Urgent case structure: The emergency details will be emphasised while arranging paragraphs.
  1. In the final request paragraph, make sure to include the discharge details of the patient and also to add the details about the further actions to be taken and treatments if any. This paragraph,as the title suggests, demands a tone of politeness. 

Which are the three types of letters in OET?

Generally, the OET letters are classified into three in terms of the purpose of writing. The three types of letters in OET writing are:

  1. Referral letter
  2. Discharge letter
  3. Transfer letter

Referral Letter

A referral is mainly written by a health professional to her colleague, explaining the medical history and present medical condition and the patient. Depending on the position in the medical profession of the writer, the nature of the letter may change. The letter mainly presents the details related to the diagnosis or treatment to be further conducted for the patient.

Discharge letter

In a discharge letter, the health professional includes the overall details about the patient’s discharge using medical terminologies and the medical history and current medical condition of the patient. 

Transfer letter

The transfer letter is mainly written by a health professional to explain the health condition of a patient who has been recently transferred from residential care to another or from one department to another department within a clinic or hospital.

How to end an OET letter?

Knowing how to end an OET letter is also essential in getting a better score on the test. Here go the different expressions to be used for ending an OET letter:

  • If you have an idea about the person’s name to whom you are writing the letter, then end your letter using “ Yours sincerely”.
  • If you are addressing the person with their job title, then also you can use “ Yours faithfully
Dear Ms Hitons,Yours sincerely,
Dear Doctor,Yours faithfully,


It is advisable to arrange ideas in an OET letter in three to five paragraphs. One needs to have a really good idea about where to include information in a letter.

  • Introduction paragraph: for briefing the purpose of the letter and the medical condition of the patient.
  • Body paragraphs: depending on the structure that you choose, arrange information, including the social and medical history of the patient. A maximum of three paragraphs can be included.
  • Final request paragraph: As mentioned earlier, the writer will have to place the request about the further care the patient is supposed to receive.


OET writing is all about the candidate’s intelligence in putting together all the relevant information using a suitable format and vocabulary. A candidate who knows these requirements and the criteria or parameters of assessment very well can crack the test in the maiden attempt itself.

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