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OET Writing Task

The first thing you should read on test day – as soon as you open up your OET exam booklet – is the OET Writing TASK. It’s located at the bottom of the case notes. So just skip the case notes to focus on the TASK.

You can think of the TASK as your essay question. You wouldn’t just write an essay without firstly reading the essay question, right? Well, it’s the same for OET writing. Before you know what to write you need to read the TASK because the TASK will tell you all the critical things you need to know.

  • The TASK will tell you WHO you are writing to, or, in short, the recipient’s profession. Knowing that you are writing to a dermatologist, or a dentist or a dietician will determine which case notes you are going to select. Think about it… what a dermatologist would want to know would differ enormously compared to what a dentist would need to know.
  • The TASK will tell you WHETHER THE RECIPIENT KNOWS THE PATIENT OR NOT. Be careful, this can be subtle. But it’s a very important piece of information to know. Think about it… if you’re writing to a patient’s GP (apostrophe GP) then that GP obviously knows the patient. If the TASK says nothing about the relationship you can assume that the patient and the professional don’t know each other. Whether or not the patient knows the professional will change how ‘relevant’ the case notes are. For example, if the patient knows the GP; if it’s his or her GP then selecting case notes from ‘medical history’ will not be so relevant… right?
  • The TASK will usually tell you what to REQUEST from the recipient. While this information will also be found in the management or discharge plan, there will usually be a phrase or two outlining the REASON for writing the letter in the first place, such as “for further testing and a second opinion”.

You can see how critical the TASK is. It’s a very small chunk of writing, but if you get it wrong it could steer your letter in the wrong direction. E2Language has a range of TASKS in its case notes so you can practice all the different types. No surprises on test day! Our course also provides you with a great OET writing overview.

Case Note Structure 1: Main Medical Issue

Now that you’ve read the TASK, you’re ready to read the OET nursing case notes or OET medical case notes, or whichever OET profession you are. They are, of course, different for each medical profession.

The case notes will generally follow two types of structures – at least that’s what I have seen.

The first way that the OET case notes might be structures is by ‘MAIN MEDICAL ISSUE’. That is, there will be one main issue, a secondary issue and some other unrelated issues. Your job will be to locate the main medical issue – usually found under ‘admission diagnosis’ or a similar subheading. You will then need to identify the surrounding secondary issue or issues.

For instance, you might have a patient who has earache. This is the admission diagnosis; this is the main medical issue. Let’s say you’re writing to an ENT specialist. In addition to the earache, this person has seeing ‘flashes’ and having mild headaches. These would be the related secondary issues that should follow in your letter. As an aside, the patient may have changed medications recently, so that should be mentioned as well, but it should certainly not be mentioned at the top of the letter as ‘PRIORITISATION’ is key. Make no mistake: Put the most important information at the top of the letter.

Case Note Structure 2: Chronological Order

The second OET case note structure that you might see is when the patient visits your clinic or hospital several times over a period of time. Let’s call this structure ‘chronological’.

Even though there is a time element added to this structure of case notes, there will also be a ‘main presenting issue’, and this should be prioritised, just as above. But the added challenge here is that you also outline the events that took place.

Remember that this is a pretty basic OET writing overview. For more detailed information and lots of practice including feedback on your writing, you really should click over to E2Language and sign up for a package. Practice with material from E2’s OET Course, book an E2 Tutorial with awesome teachers or join an OET Live Classes, which happen twice a day, 5 times a week! You’ll be surprised how challenging this OET exam can be. Did you know that more than half of OET candidates fail their first attempt? Don’t do that!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Written by Jay OET Expert, MA Applied Linguistics, Grad Dip Ed, BA


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