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OET Writing is the most challenging of the OET sub-tests to understand. In fact, this is the latest OET official data the average scores:

OET Average Scores for Nursing

Listening: 330

Reading: 320

Speaking: 350

Writing: 290

OET Average Scores for Medicine

Listening: 370

Reading: 370

Speaking: 370

Writing: 330


So, it’s pretty clear that OET writing poses a challenge for many candidates.

In this article, I’m going to give you a quick overview of OET writing so you know exactly what to expect on test day.

The Aim

Your aim is to write a perfectly written letter based on a set of case notes.

Understanding the OET Writing Case Notes  

First things first, on test day you’re going to receive a set of patient case notes.

In your OET writing section the case notes will focus on an individual patient and either be about a particular incident with some surrounding information or about a series of incidents over time. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the case notes will be profession-specific. So, doctors will receive medicine case notes, nurses will receive nursing case notes and physios, for example, will receive physiotherapy case notes.

Located at the bottom of the patient case notes is the TASK, which looks like this:


The task will tell you several important pieces of information such as:

  1. Who to write to including the recipient’s name and profession, and
  2. Why you’re writing to them
  3. What type of letter you need to write 

If you’re a nurse or a doctor then you’ll usually have to write a referral letter but you may have to write a discharge or transfer letter.

There really isn’t much of a difference between a referral, discharge and transfer letter in OET writing, apart from the opening paragraph where you signal to the reader what it is you’re doing.

Be careful. Even if you’re a native speaker and you’ve written 1000s of letters, there is a certain way that you need to write in order to maximise your score. So please do follow our advice and make sure you watch all of the methods lessons on because these will show you exactly how to construct your letter according to what the OET examiners are looking for in your writing.


Bear in mind that on test day, you’ll have 5 minutes to read the case notes, and in this time you cannot use a pen, so you can’t take notes or mark the case notes in any way. You really have to use this time to understand what’s happening in the case notes and make decisions about relevance and structure. You will then have 40 minutes to write your letter, which is plenty of time, especially if you’ve memorised the overall structure of the letter which will give you time to concentrate on the body paragraphs that require your attention and linguistic flexibility. 

Word Count

The recommended word count for OET writing is between 180-200 words, and this is just the body of the letter, everything from Dear So and So to Yours Sincerely. And this number – 180-220 – is recommended only. It’s not a strict guideline like in other English exams. In short, as long as you include relevant case notes, exclude irrelevant case notes and write efficiently you’ll write enough.

Next Steps to conquer the OET Writing Sub-Test

Okay, so from here, you should watch the video on structure and then the scoring videos on

You’ll then be ready to begin writing letters, getting feedback and moving towards the score you want.

Watch the Video

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