OET Writing Grammar

Articles are an important OET grammar component. These always come top of the list when it comes to those tricky bits of English grammar that take a while to click. The terminology can make the use of articles sound confusing, but it is actually quite simple! First thing to remember is that mistakes in ‘articles’ fall under Language in OET Writing Assessment Criteria.

Read this article and have a go at the mini-tasks, and you’ll have solved your article worries in a matter of minutes…

1. Nouns

Articles come before some nouns, so nouns are the best place to start.

A noun can be a person, a place or an object. There are many types of nouns and reading up on them will help you to get your head around articles.

1.1. Indefinite (a/an)

This type of article refers to an unspecified noun or you could say any of the noun type.


Mrs. Brooks has a history of diabetes. 

Mr. Jackson was referred to an orthopedist. 

The indefinite article ‘a’ is used before a word that begins with a consonant or consonant sound when pronounced.

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Common medical words that begin with a

consonantconsonant sound
a fibroida uterine fibroid
a high school studenta university student
a blood testa urine test
a stool samplea urine sample
a businessmana English businessman
a historya one-day history
a cougha European
a dollara euro
a reporta unit
a featurea unique feature
a biopsy
a colostomy
a bruise
a catheter

The indefinite article ‘an’ is used before a word that begins with a vowel or a vowel sound when pronounced.

Common medical words that begin with a

VowelVowel sound
an episodean hour
an eight-year-old boyan honest opinion
an examination/investigationan honorable person
an orthopedist
an American
an ultrasound
an injury
an operation/procedure

1.1.1 Abbreviations

Deciding which indefinite article should be used with abbreviations is tricky. You need to understand if the abbreviation is pronounced as a single word, letter by letter or in expanded form.

Here is a list of common

AbbreviationsFull Form
a URTIan upper respiratory infection
a UTIa urinary tract infection
an RBC counta red blood cell count
an MRI scana magnetic resonance imaging scan
an MNC
an RTAa road traffic accident
an NPO order
an HIV positive patient
an NICU nurse/doctora neonatal ICU nurse/doctor
a US senator
an AIDS patient
an SMS
a SARS vaccine
an STD testa sexually transmitted disease
an Hb/Hct valuea hemoglobin/hematocrit value
an OTC medicine

Do not use indefinite articles with uncountable nouns in OET.
For example, information, tenderness, bleeding, etc.

1.1.2 Medical Conditions & Medication

Do not use indefinite articles with medical conditions or medication names.

Medical ConditionMedication Name
hay feverPanadol
Parkinson’s diseaseLasix
Crohn’s diseaseAnginine
Murphy’s signRisperdal

1.1.3 Treatment Procedures

Do not use indefinite articles with medical/treatment procedures as given below.

angiography, echocardiographyoccupational therapy
acupuncturespeech therapy

However, if a countable noun follows the above, an indefinite article can be used.

a dialysis baga physiotherapy session
a screening procedurea scanning report

1.2 Definite Article (the)


On examination, she had pain in the left lower abdomen.

Further investigation confirmed a bacterial infection in the heart.

She presented with a scar on the left cheek.

Mrs X reported noticing a lump in the left breast.

  • This article is used to indicate something already mentioned.


Suspecting peptic ulcer, a CT scan was ordered. The scan revealed multiple gall stones.

Today, Mrs. Zara reported experiencing severe chest pain for a day. The pain was constant and lasted for 5 minutes.

  • While describing the body parts, ‘the’ can be replaced with appropriate gender pronouns (his/her)


Mrs Martha reported noticing a lump in her left breast.

An X-ray confirmed a fracture in his right foot.

  • However, if there is an adjective preceding the noun indicating the body part, appropriate indefinite article (a/an) is used.


She presented with features of an acute abdomen.

His X-ray revealed an enlarged heart.

On examination, he had a swollen left knee.

2. Job Roles

In your OET writing and speaking test, you will often need to refer to the roles of medical professionals. Job roles will always take an article. You will need to decide whether the role/person you are referring to is general (a/an) or specific (the).  Make up a few phrases with the examples below.

E.g. The doctor has referred her to a psychiatrist.

a/the doctor

a/the nurse

a/the dentist

a/the psychiatrist

a/the support worker

an/the anaesthetist

3. Nouns describing patients

Nouns describing patients will also need to be preceded by an article. In this case, you would sometimes be using the definite article as you are referring to a specific patient. However, there will be some instances where you would use the indefinite article. Have a look at the examples below and put them into some sentences.

E.g. The father of the child is a factory worker.

a/the woman

a/the father

a/the child

a/the widow

a/the factory worker

an/ the alcoholic

4. Uncountable nouns

These are nouns you cannot write article ‘a’ with. Some of the uncountable nouns are”






Now try and put some sentences together using both lists.

And there you have it…articles are easy!


Fill in the following with the appropriate article

Articles made easy for OET Candidates !

  1. He was diagnosed with hydronephrosis of left kidney.
  2. Though she had abdominal pain, Murphy’s sign was negative.
    Not required
  3. angiography was performed immediate after admission.
    Not required
  4. He has two-week history of exertional chest pain.
  5. She injured her left leg in RTA.
Score - 0

16 thoughts on “Articles made easy for OET Candidates !”

  1. Just know about benchmark 10 days before my exam.
    Really wonderful guideline I’m receiving from them.
    Very helpful.

  2. thank you so much Benchmark for this wonderful guidelines. please i need more clarification on how to use article with uncountable nouns.
    does it mean that the article use in the following sentences are wrong;
    mrs Jones has a cancer
    please i need more help here sir

  3. It’s great how simply you’re describing it. please let me know whether we can put articles before symptoms, for example vomiting ,diarrhoea etc.

  4. Hi Dear
    I want to know, how can I use articles with image investigations (e.g: MRI, endoscopy and x-ray please ?

  5. we were taught that procedures names should not be capitalized.so what do we write.An ECG was ordered or An ecg was ordered?

  6. can we use article before name of the surgery
    for example,Mr X who underwent a hip replacement surgery/Mr x who underwent hip replacement surgeryo
    which one is right?
    mr x who underwent a left arthroplasty/who underwent left arthroplasty

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