Assessment criteria for OET Writing Test

Candidates are given marks on the basis of six criteria that will evaluate different aspects of writing skills in a medical environment. It is very crucial to understand what is expected for each criterion, to improve your score. 

Marks for The Purpose criterion are given on a scale of 0 to 3 marks, while the remaining five criteria are marked on a scale of 0 to 7. 

Let us discuss these six criteria to understand how your OET writing task can best match up to the expectations of the Assessors.

First Criterion - The Purpose

Read the case notes thoroughly to get a sense of why you need to refer or transfer the patient to the recipient. 

  • Mention the purpose of the letter at the beginning so that the reader need not have to spend time searching for this detail.
  • Use relevant information from case notes to explain and support the purpose of the letter. 

Second Criterion – The Content

To get a higher score in this criterion, you need to: 

  • Have a thorough awareness of the recipient of the letter. If the recipient of your letter is aware of the patient's case, then you should mention only the essential information for the continued care of the patient. 
  • Provide essential details for the recovery and continued care of the patient. 
  • Never try to change the information presented in the case notes. However, you can paraphrase or summarize such information as long as it does change the accuracy of meaning conveyed in the case notes. 
  • Never give your own interpretations or giving a diagnosis that is not mentioned in the case notes. 
  • Do not include anything extra to the letter, even if your medical knowledge suggests you otherwise.

Third Criterion - Conciseness and clarity

To get a good score in this criterion, you need to: 

  • Avoid writing irrelevant information, which will distract the recipient of the letter from the main purpose of the letter. 
  • Convey the information that is required by the recipient in the most effective way. 
  • Summarise information from the case notes only when it is needed. 
  • Do not explain the key information in a complicated way. 

Fourth Criterion - Genre and style

To achieve a higher score in this criterion, you need to: 

  • Maintain a polite, formal, and simple language. 
  • Never mention your own conclusions, views, judgments and feelings about the case / patient. 
  • Always use medical terms properly. Consider how familiar the recipient would be with a specific medical term. Never just assume that all healthcare professionals will be familiar with every kind of medical terms and abbreviations.
  • In case the recipient is from similar discipline then it would be appropriate to write specialized medical terms or abbreviations, however, in case the recipient is from another discipline, then you have to explain certain medical terms and avoid specialized abbreviations. 
  • Never misuse or overuse the technical or medical terms and abbreviations.
  • Write simple explanations if the recipient is a layperson such as a social worker, caregiver, or parent. 
  • Get a thorough understanding of the recipient and the purpose of your letter, to simplify your choice of vocabulary, language and tone.

Fifth Criterion - Organisation and layout

To get a higher score in this criterion, you need to: 

  • Logically divide the chosen details information into paragraphs. 
  • Never rely on a specific template or pre-decided format. 
  • Remember that during official OET writing test, you need to decide about the layout and the best organization of the letter based on the case notes and the task given to you. 
  • Arrange the chronology of the information chosen from the case notes in such a way that is most suitable and appropriate for the recipient. Your letter may not necessarily be in the similar order or chronology in which the information is given in the case notes. 
  • Before you start writing the letter, highlight the information in the case notes which you consider relevant or important for the recipient to know. 
  • Present the letter in an appropriate layout. There is a wide range of accepted letter formats used by medical professionals in various local circumstances.
  • Instead of relying on a specific format, try to ensure that the letter is laid out well and fulfils the needs of the given task. 

Sixth Criterion - Language

To get a higher score in this criterion, you need to: 

  • Practice using appropriate vocabularies suitable to the situation of the task. 
  • Make sure that the language you use properly conveys the message of the given task. 
  • Never use complicated sentences, grammar or linking words just to show that you are proficient in using them. 
  • Even if you have written the letter using the accurate language, the unnecessarily complicated phrases or sentences will result in a reduction in your score. 
  • Write the letter in a simple and easy form so that the recipient can find the required / relevant information quickly. 
  • Avoid common spelling and grammar mistakes. 
  • Maintain any one specific spelling convention (either the US or British English) throughout the letter. 
  • Punctuate sentences appropriately. 
  • Use the last five minutes to review / check the completed task and to make any corrections.


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