Use of Two Word Expressions In OET Writing Sub Test

The use of two-word expressions in medical communications is very common. Healthcare professionals often use these two-word expressions at the workplace, in general communications, etc. 

What exactly are two-word expressions in medical English?

There are certain words that are used as pairs (As per medical conventions, we use these pairs). And of course, you can’t replace one word with the other in the pair. 

For example, we say Heart Attack or Heart Problem. But, something like Heart Trouble is unheard of. We do not say like that. However, if you use it, you will receive no appreciation for this innovation. 

Traditionally, we say bedside manner but we do not say bedside rules. It is common to say plastic surgery but plastic operation or plastic operation is something very awkward. We say medical laboratory or medical lab but we do not say healthcare lab or healthcare laboratory. It is the brain stem but not the brain branch, brain trunk or brain tendril. 

However, there are some candidates who mistakenly make use of these untraditional or improper word combinations (just to sound a bit different). In OET writing, it is strictly not allowed. You are expected to write as per the medical conventions. 

Some of the common two-word expressions are as follows

Allergic reaction     
General anesthetic   
Bone marrow 
Surgical intervention     
Plastic surgery     
Brain death     
Primary tooth     
General practitioner    
Cancellous bone 
Permanent teeth 
Brain stem 
Catch a cold
Analyze a sample
Administer drug 
Biological clock 
Balanced diet
Clinical trial     
Malignant tumor 
Digestive system  
Lose consciousness 
Skin rash 

Check out some of these sentences

The nurse will administer a drug to the patient. 
The patient reported severe side-effects. The nurse arranged an appointment. 
She had an injection to ease the pain in her right arm. 
She said that she would like to disconnect the treatment with the dentist for 10.00am today. 
The doctor prescribed medicine as per the patient’s condition. 

In the sentences given above word combinations are as follows:

Administer a drug, severe side-effects, ease the pain, disconnect the treatment and prescribed medicine. 

When you take the OET writing sub-test, it is important that you make use of the right pairs of the words or word-groups. 

Apply for the OET preparation online. Enroll for the OET training online at 

Share this article on