OET Writing Section: Core Preparation Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

The OET Writing Section should be seen as a great opportunity to show your ability to communicate in formal written English. You have ample time in the exam to read the case notes and write the required c.200 words. Your preparation should therefore be focused on generating numerous sample letters. This preparation is likely to be much more specific than your preparation for the other areas of the OET.

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Our OET Pharmacy Question bank features questions from UK doctors and pharmacists, with tutorials and tips.

General Writing Preparation

Whilst some general written preparation will be a good idea, the reality is that the Writing component is very focused, and is highly unlikely to surprise you. Your ‘general’ preparation should therefore extend to practising writing letters, but anything more generalised than this is not likely to be an efficient or effective use of your time.

However, you might wish to consider the format of the OET’s Writing section. It is, essentially, a test of both your ability to write and your ability to comprehend, analyse, and relay information. You must choose the correct parts of the notes – those which are relevant, which avoid repetition, and which fit the format of the task.

To practise this, you could set yourself the task of writing brief letters on a range of different topics. You might choose to read articles and then summarise the key findings of them in a letter format. That said, we would advise that this is used as an adjunct to your main preparation – perhaps something to do as a break from your typical preparation.

You must practice the general rules of letter-writing. This will involve understanding how to begin and end letters and how to address others formally.

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OET Specific Preparation

The simplest way to prepare for this component is repeatedly writing referral, discharge, transfer or information & advice letters. Note that for doctors and nurses the most common letter type is a referral, although you might encounter referrals, discharges, or transfers. Advice & information is typically encountered by pharmacists and vets.

You should ensure that you are confident in the exact format of the Writing examination – there is a range of information available on this from both BlackStone Tutors and the OET site itself. One piece of information to note during your preparation is that the word count of 200 in the exam is ‘advisory’ – you will not be penalised for exceeding it. Do not therefore waste time counting the words in the letters that you write whilst revising – instead, develop an overall feeling of how a 200 word letter looks at the outset, and then stick to a length that appears to be similar to this.

You should begin preparation by ensuring that you are confident on the structure that the OET expects. You should look at the OET official sample examples and from this develop an understanding of what is required. You might then begin to practise in two ways: converting cases that you find online into letters, and using dedicated OET revision materials.

To learn most effectively, you should prepare with both of these methods simultaneously. The process of converting cases that you find online into brief letters will give you a wide range of vocabulary, and help you to become used to creating a precis from a given sample of text.

However, this alone is not enough, as you will not be able to gain an accurate idea of how you are doing. In order to understand how your letter is likely to be marked, you will need something to compare it to. You should therefore make use of a Writing practice bank which has cases and model answers. BlackStone Tutors has 15 writing tasks suitable for doctors, nurses and pharmacists, each with a model answer. Working through these gradually, and allying this preparation to time spent practising summarising cases that you find online or indeed through your work, should lead to a confident performance in the exam.

Lastly, taking the time to re-write your own referral or discharge letters in English (whilst ensuring that you follow rules regarding patient confidentiality) will allow you to quickly gain confidence and provide you with a range of real-world scenarios.e

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