Imagine you are an OET writing examiner and you have to grade dozens of papers every single day. It is not a very fun existence. You need constant concentration and unending focus. You cannot let up for a single letter, yet there are so many that are exactly the same: the same content, the same ideas, the same mistakes. It can be terribly boring.
When you are writing your OET letter, you probably don’t think much about the examiner, but perhaps you should. It is natural to think about yourself most of all. Let’s face it, you are doing this difficult test in order to improve your own career prospects. You think about yourself first and put your feelings at the center of your OET preparation. However, like many things in life, it’s a good idea to think about others first and work from there.
So what can you do for the OET examiner?
The easiest letters to grade are the ones with the highest quality writing, but that isn’t particularly helpful to know. Of course, you want high quality writing! If you could write English with perfect grammar and knew all the correct OET nursing vocabulary or OET doctor vocabulary, then you wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. The test would be incredibly easy.
Instead, you should be thinking about creating a letter that is easy for the examiner to read, even if you have to compromise on OET nursing terms or medical terminology for nurses. Instead of fixating upon these things, you should instead look at creating a piece of writing that has two essential qualities: clarity and order.
If you can write a discharge letter that contains these two qualities, then the examiner will read through your writing sub-test quickly and easily, and this will make his or her day a little easier. Maybe that feeling of contentment will help them in judging your writing more positively. After all, we are all affected by our mood on some subconscious level. A happy examiner will of course be more inclined to give out higher grades than a grumpy and bored one.
How to bring clarity to your writing
Good writing has a trait called clarity. This means that the text is clear and easy to understand. There are many aspects of letter writing that come together in order to produce clarity, including punctuation, spelling, paragraphing, and grammar. All of these things work together to produce a piece of writing that is easy to read. Even if there are a couple of small errors in there, the overall letter will be pleasant for the OET examiner to read, and not so much of a dull chore.
Writing that lacks clarity is often the result of one bad idea: making things too complicated. All too often, OET candidates decide to dazzle the examiner with complicated sentences that run on for tens of words, and fancy OET vocabulary that is incorrectly used. Instead of making the writing look more academic and professional, this sort of cheap trick reduces the clarity and helps create a letter that is far more difficult to read.
The result is that the examiner will have to spend a long time picking through your ideas in order to understand what you meant. He or she will have to look long and hard at each sentence just to figure out what you were trying to say so that they can judge your score effectively. However, that’s not what you want. It is not a wise decision, no matter what some lazy teachers have told you.
If you can keep your writing comparatively simple by using straightforward language and avoiding unnecessary complexity, then you will be on course for a much happier examiner and therefore a much better exam result.
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 examiner, 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 examiner. 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.