OET Examiner

One useful tip for maximising your score in writing is to keep the OET assessor in mind, and create a letter easy for them to read. What does this mean, exactly?

In IELTS examining, one of the criteria descriptors is ‘puts a strain on the reader’ and lowers your score in that criterion.

This also applies in OET. If the OET assessor has to spend a long time picking through your ideas in order to understand what you meant, then you are likely to lose points in either the Conciseness and Clarity category or the Language category.

The way to avoid is this to make sure your writing has clarity and order.

Good writing has clarity. While there are many aspects of letter writing that come together to produce clarity, including punctuation, spelling, paragraphing and grammar, there are two common mistakes that candidates make which reduce clarity and put a strain on the assessor.

How to bring clarity to your writing

First mistake: Making the sentences too complicated.

Some candidates think that complicated sentences will impress the assessor, but if your sentences run on and on, clause after clause, then you are putting a strain on the reader, especially if your grammar starts to fall apart, which can happen very easily. (Even native speakers have to take care not to lose control of the grammar in long complex sentences.

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Example 1:

On admission dated 23/05/2022, Mrs Taylor was brought to the emergency department with a four-day history of fever and rigors; she also had night sweats, weakness, breathlessness, especially while doing activities, and muscle ache

Example 2:

On 23/05/2022, Mrs Taylor was brought to the emergency department with a four-day history of fever and rigors, night sweats, weakness, exertional breathlessness and muscle ache.

Unless you are 100% sure of your control over English grammar, (and under the stress of test conditions), writing long complicated sentences is a not a good idea. On the other hand, if you keep your writing comparatively simple by using straightforward language and avoiding unnecessary complexity, then your assessor will be able to follow your ideas with ease and you will have a much better chance of scoring well in Conciseness and Clarity and Language.

In particular, note the highlighted part of this descriptor for Language, which can be found in the OET writing criteria: Source

This criterion examines whether the language is accurate, used appropriately and whether it interferes with reading comprehension or speed.

Writing clearly, so that the assessor can follow what you are saying without having to read it three times, will help you get a good score in the category.

Second mistake: Vocabulary that is unnecessarily formal or elaborate

This is less common than the first mistake, but some candidates think that using ‘fancy’ vocabulary will score them extra points. It doesn’t.


According to Mr. Xander’s wife, he is typically belligerent and querulous when non-compliant with medications but is innocuous

As with the first mistake of overly complicated sentences, not only is advanced vocabulary unnecessary, if you use it incorrectly, you could lose points in the Language category. Here is the quotation from the descriptor for Language again, with a different phrase highlighted:

This criterion examines whether the language is accurate, used appropriately and whether it interferes with reading comprehension or speed.

How to order your writing better

Good writing is well-ordered, whether it is a letter or a letter or an article. Without order, a piece of writing is just a long, confusing group of words. As we discussed above, you want to make the reading process as easy as possible for your assessor, so don’t forget to order your letter as logically and clearly as possible so that they can take everything in with ease.

Doing this will depend on the content of the information sheet that you are given, but generally speaking you need to follow a reasonable and consistent structure. You should group related pieces of information together into paragraphs with a clear topic, and then sequence them in a purely logical order.

The easiest structure to implement is as following:

Introduction – Chief Complaint + Purpose
Body Para 1 – Past medical + Social History
Body Para 2 – Nursing Management
Body Para 3 – Ongoing Care or Discharge Plan
Conclusion – relevant to the task

You can often begin with the earliest pieces of information, if the information has been sequenced chronologically. Otherwise, it is also possible to group ideas in terms of importance, with the most important coming first, and followed by the next most important idea, and so on.

The case notes are often quite helpful in that related information is usually grouped together, so you should take that consideration to mind when writing your own OET letter. Pay attention to this during your practice writing sessions, and you’ll find that it becomes second nature by the time you do your exam.

In conclusion, don’t get caught up revising vast lists of difficult words from an OET vocabulary list, when the best thing to do is aim for clear, ordered, precise language that will make reading your letter less of a chore for the assessor. Try to simplify your writing and always keep in mind a logical structure that you can follow to present your ideas in the best possible way.

2 thoughts on “What are OET Assessors Looking for in your Writing?”

  1. I would like to learn on how to pick relevant information especially when writing to a dietician, social worker or physiotherapist.

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