OET 2021 Can You Use Abbreviations in Reading and Writing Sub Tests

As a medical professional it is common for you to make use of abbreviations. Doctors or nurses often tend to convey information by making use of abbreviations. In general practice it is accepted but when it comes to OET, you will have to be very careful. 

In your OET reading sub-test, you can’t make use of abbreviations. You are not allowed to.  However if you find any abbreviation in the text that is more important to form an answer then you can use that. 

For example if you find “Ac” that stands for Before Meals in the reading text and if it is necessary to form an answer then you can use it for your answer. But, along with it if you use some other abbreviations that are not there in the reading text then you may lose marks. 


Ac Twice Daily (will be correct) But, Ac, Bid (Twice a day) will be wrong. 

In your OET reading, it is always recommended that you do not make use of abbreviations and provide only full answers. But, in your OET writing sub-test you have the freedom to make use of them. The case notes provided to you will have some of the information conveyed in the form of abbreviations. There can be so many of them too. But, the main thing that you will have to focus on is this: you are entitled to use only the most common ones and not the complex ones. 

For instance, Bm stands for bowel movement. It is very common. When you write Bm anyone in the medical field may understand it.  You can write TPR as well which stands for temperature, pulse, and respiration. Both are common and their usage is accepted in the test. 

But if you write, EBL which is an abbreviation of estimated blood loss then it may confuse the readers a little since it is not one of the common ones that are generally used in the medical field. Similarly, you should not use Gtt to describe drop-liquid measurement, BRP for bathroom privileges, MVA for motor vehicle accidents.

It may be that in certain regions or workplaces, the use of such abbreviations is common but still you will have to comply with the policy of global usage.  

Listed down are some of the common abbreviations that you can use in your OET writing sub-test. 

ER: emergency room
F: Fahrenheit
Mg: milligram
Ml: milliliter
CC: chief complaint
cc: cubic centimeter
c/o: complains of
ad lib: at will, as desired
Cap: capsule
sc/sq: subcutaneous
s: without 
s/s: signs and symptoms
C02: carbon dioxide
CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Fb: foreign body
fx: fracture
vs: vital signs 
IV: intravenous
po: by mouth
pt: patient
OS: left eye
OU: both eyes
qd: every day
qh: every hour
qid: four times a day
qod: every other day
Rx: prescription, treatment
hr: hour
NPO: nothing by mouth
I & O: intake and output
O2: oxygen
OD: right eye 
post-op: postoperative (after surgery)
pre-op: preoperative (before surgery)
NTG: nitroglycerin
tab: tablet
ASAP: as soon as possible
CXR: chest x-ray
adm: admission, admitted
ECG or EKG: electrocardiogram
sx: symptoms
d/c: discontinue or discharge
hs: hour of sleep (bedtime)
stat: immediately
SOB: short of breath 
HR: heart rate
H20: water
H & P: history and physical
BP: blood pressure
C: Centigrade, Celsius
IDDM: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
IM: intramuscular


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