The OET Writing sub-test is designed to attest the writing skills of different healthcare professionals. The test is different for each of the 12 professions, including medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, pharmacy, radiology, occupational therapy and nursing. In deciding on the structure of this test, the ability to use written English in a relevant professional context was the main consideration. Keep on reading and discover more useful information on the subject.
OET Writing Structure – Reading time & Writing Time
The Writing sub-test is structured in two parts: reading time and writing time. For the first part, candidates are allotted five minutes; they are instructed to read the task instructions and case notes thoroughly. Candidates have forty minutes to proceed with the writing and complete the task as instructed.
As mentioned above, the content is specific to each healthcare profession. However, all candidates will be required to write a letter, in a manner that is both clear and accurate. The main aim is to assess whether candidates are able to write a letter, with content relevant for the intended reader.
The test draws upon information from real workplace situations, preparing candidates for demands related to the chosen profession. Most commonly, they will be asked to write a letter of referral, transfer or advice; the letter is meant to be sent to another health professional, patient, patient’s next of kin or client. Candidates should base their letter on the clinical case notes, with a word count between 180 and 200 words.
Importance of reading time
The five minutes given to read the task instructions and stimulus material (case notes) are meant to be used as such. During this time, candidates should go through the information provided, paying attention to everything. This time can facilitate the understanding of the task, thus helping them formulate their response. During this part of the OET Writing sub-test, candidates are not allowed to write, underline the written text or make notes. Care must be taken not to use a pencil or pen using this period as this may lead to even disqualification.
Writing time – response formulation
After one has gone through the reading time, it is time for writing. Candidates are given forty minutes to respond to the task, formulating a letter that satisfies all of the requirements. The letter is written in the answer booklet and the allotted amount of time is enough to complete the task, as well as go over their work once more.
The letter should record all essential pieces of information, including the treatment the patient has benefitted from so far. Moreover, as one is writing a referral letter, one has to include the issues meant to be addressed by the healthcare professional in question. This is also called discharge plan or ongoing care. The case notes contain a lot of useful details but also information that is meant to be confusing or superfluous, so attention should be paid whereas such matters are concerned.
Why is the OET Writing sub-test structured in this manner?
The structure of the OET Writing sub-test was not randomly chosen. Like the other sub-tests, it is meant to cover the assessment criteria for all candidates and decide on the level of occupational English.
Test takers will be assessed with regard to the overall task fulfillment, the appropriate usage of language and stimulus comprehension. Moreover, the assessors will use the written sub-test to verify grammar and cohesion (linguistic features), as well as the spelling, punctuation and layout (presentation features).
It is important to know that all assessment criteria bear the same weight in deciding on the final grade. Candidates managing to demonstrate a superior level of performance on all assessment criteria will be given a higher grade.
The OET Writing module can be more useful than one imagines, in the sense that its structure bears a remarkable resemblance to everyday work situations. Healthcare professionals, whether they are doctors, nurses or physical therapists, have to prepare letters on a daily basis. These are often handwritten and under the pressure of time, just like in the test.
The task instructions and stimulus material are based on the healthcare workplace context, testing the ability of candidates to select and organize relevant information. OET test takers will also be tested on their ability to present the selected information in the form of a letter.
Task instructions can point candidates in the right direction
By reading the task instructions with attention, you will already know what you need to do. You are required to use the information given in the case notes, also known as the stimulus material, and write a letter. Attention, it says to expand the relevant notes into complete sentences, without using the note form. The letter format is to be used, with the body of the letter having the above-mentioned word count (180-200). By following these suggestions, you will no doubt complete the writing task successfully.
Please visit this link to read some useful tips on how to write a letter, and you will also find sample letters there. Take your time to go through the content and do not hesitate to check out the tips for improving your writing skills.
Also, if you are looking for someone to check your letters and give expert advice, please use our Writing Correction service.