OET Spelling

OET candidates are often unclear regarding the level of importance of spelling across the different sections of the OET. We have put together a simple guide to sort out your OET spelling worries once and for and all.

OET Writing Sub-test

Obviously, it is preferable to avoid spelling errors in the OET letter. However, it is important not to overestimate the proportion of marks allocated for spelling. In doing so, you may neglect other areas of the assessment such as grammatical issues which arguably carry more weight. Out of the 6 assessment criteria for OET writing, spelling is grouped with punctuation, vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure in the assessment category entitled: Language.

If you know that spelling is a problem for you then you will need to dedicate extra revision to it. If your spelling is generally quite good, just be sure to copy details from the case notes without any misspellings as this is a waste of marks, and also it is important that medications, procedures etc. are spelled correctly. It goes without saying that you should thoroughly proofread your letter as many spelling errors are picked up at this stage.

Be aware of the differences between some American and British English spelling. Both are equally acceptable but stick to one throughout. It is also worth making a note of spelling mistakes that you make frequently in practice materials so that you avoid them when it comes to the real thing.

OET Reading Sub-test

Candidates are often unsure how important spelling is when it comes to their answers in the reading test. Evidently, your answers in the reading sub-section of the OET are multiple choice when it comes to part B and C. However, in OET Reading Part A of the reading sub-test, in the questions where you are required to write your answers, it is imperative that your spelling is correct, and you will not gain the mark for the question if it is not.

OET Listening Sub-test

Unlike in the reading section, the spellings of answers in the listening sub-test are not as important. Finally, some good news – Yay! Your answer should be as close to the correct spelling as possible and the word that you are attempting to spell must be obvious to the assessor. As long as the assessor can understand the meaning of the word, it is likely to be marked as correct. You can find more about it in this article

So, hopefully spelling in the OET is not quite as scary as you thought. As long as you follow the above-mentioned tips your spelling worries will be sorted before you know it!

Are Spelling Mistakes Important in the OET Test?

OET test takers should avoid two extremes;

they should neither underestimate spelling mistakes’ potential for miscommunication nor overemphasize their value to an overwhelming extreme. If you write “describe” instead of “prescribe”, surely this would bring misunderstanding to your OET letter writing. However, if you wrote “tablet” instead of “tablets” in OET listening, you will still get a mark. So, the underlying principle to get away without being penalized for spelling is to avoid miscommunication in overall context.

Remember! A letter with incorrectly spelled common medical words not only deviates from English spelling’s norms, but also reflects an overall negative image of you being a professional. A healthcare professional who gives attention to minute details is considered of high value and an error-free OET letter depicts professionalism. Therefore, spelling is not just a language issue, instead it has the potential to impact your overall scores in the OET test.

Most Commonly Misspelled OET Medical Terms

This is a list of some most commonly misspelled medical words. First look at the incorrect versions and try to correct, then check the correct spelling. Please note that you can use either British or American variants for medical words.

S#Correct SpellingIncorrect Versions
3 cathetercatether
4asystoleasystle or asystol

Tips to Memorize Commonly Misspelled Medical Words

  1. Remember the Context: If you remember the situation, you will require very less cognitive effort to memorize it. Additionally, you will use the word appropriately since all synonyms are not equivalent or interchangeable.
  2. Understand the Affixes: Medical words are usually preceded by prefixes or followed by suffixes. For e.g., dys- is a prefix which means difficult or abnormal. Now you do not need to learn spelling for first half words in dyslexia, dyspnoea, dysgenesis and dysfunction. You will also learn the meaning of these words as an additional beneficial outcome of this tip which will improve your OET Reading scores.
  3. Learn the Root Word: You can learn the spelling of medical terms easily if you know the root words. For example, “cardi” stands for “heart”. Now you can easily guess the spelling and meaning of cardiology, cardiologist, cardiac arrest, cardiovascular, cardiogram, a-cardia, Angio cardiogram, cardiogenic.
  4. Write or Type the Medical Word: A very traditional practice, but always works. OET medical terminologies do not always do with the sound/pronunciation, so you should not rely on your guess for spelling. Writing a medical word 4-5 times is a good strategy to memorize difficult medical terms.
  5. Learn by Playing: Gamification is the best memorization technique for learning spelling. Scrabble, crosswords, anagrams, flash cards, and practising with your partner are all fun learning activities.
  6. Use the Word: Until and unless you use that word in your daily life, you cannot make it a part of your cognition. As a healthcare professional, you can write a report or medical summary to use that word deliberately. Also, sensitize yourself for spelling and double check the spelling in your listening and letter writing subtests.
  7. Make Your Own OET word list: Make a small diary to make your own OET medical terms. Note down any new word to your list on a daily basis. Keep revising and keep learning till you OET test day.

Spelling Quiz for OET Test takers

Check Your Knowledge


  • Type the correct letter to complete the medical word.
    1. Alzeimr’s
    2. Abcess
    3. Arhythma
    4. Hsterctomy
    5. Vaetmy

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