The OET Writing sub – test lasts for 40 minutes, and you write one letter of approximately 200 words. The letter you write is usually a discharge letter or a transfer letter (to a care home for example).
You have a detailed set of case notes to refer to when you write the letter. At the beginning of the test, you have 5 minutes to read the case notes before you begin writing the letter. You can’t write anything during this time. The notes are very detailed and contain a lot of information. Spend this time reading the information carefully and planning your letter.
Here are some pointers to remember as you write the letter.
- You can’t include all the information in your letter because you can only use 200 words, and you only have 40 minutes. Therefore, you need to carefully choose which information to include. Think about the person you’re writing to – what does that person need to know? Don’t include any new information that isn’t given in the case notes.
- When you write your letter, make sure that your language is clear and that it is suitable for the purpose of the letter, as well as for the intended reader. The tone should be polite, formal and factual.
- The information in your letter should be organised logically:
- Your reason for writing
- Why the patient was admitted to hospital
- The patient’s current condition
- Recommendations for future management
- Any other relevant information selected from the case notes
- It’s also important to use a range of language in your letter, including both complex and simple sentences, and different verb forms. You should also organise and link your point clearly, using time references where appropriate.
- Make sure your letter looks professionals and easy to read. Use a standard letter layout and include the date, address and subject line. Organise the information into paragraphs and leave a line space between each one. The letter should being with a brief paragraph that explains why you’re writing. Each paragraph should then deal with a separate point.
- Make sure you spell words correctly. This is especially important when you’re using the information you’ve been given in the case notes, such as the name of medication. It’s worth leaving time to check your letter at the end of the test, so that you can be sure that your spelling and punctuation is correct.
Common Mistake to Avoid
- Don’t write less than 180 words or much more than 200 words in the body of the letter.
- Don’t try to use phrases you have memorised in advance. Everything you write needs to be relevant to the situation.
- Don’t include any information based on your own medical knowledge, if this isn’t given in the case notes.
- Don’t copy selected parts of the case notes and don’t write in bullet points in the body of the letter. You must expand the notes into complete sentences.
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