There is no automatic penalty for writing over or under the word range for the task (180 – 200 words). However, each task is designed to be achievable within that word range. If you have written significantly more, it is likely that you have included irrelevant material or your letter is not well organised. If you have written significantly less, you may have misunderstood the task and/or the case notes, or missed out important information. In either case, your scores for the six assessment criteria for Writing will reflect any weaknesses in those areas.
Everything you need to know about the Writing sub-test
The task is to write a letter in response to a set of notes. There is five minutes of reading time at the start and then you have 40 minutes to write.
Prepare for Writing
Helpful guides, tips and advice to support you every step of the way.
Sample tests for Writing
Test yourself under test conditions with our official OET sample tests.
The Ultimate Guide to OET Writing
The Ultimate Guide to OET Writing explains each of the assessment criteria using real candidate samples. Improve your score by evidencing the skills covered by the criteria in your letter.
Videos for Writing
Explore a wide range of video resources and tutorials to build on your knowledge of the Writing Sub-test.
Writing Sub-Test Masterclass
Is it important to read the case notes and plan my response?
To achieve your best score in Writing, it's important to understand the task and the case notes. Plan your response so you can select the information only relevant to the reader. The five minutes of reading time at the start of the Writing sub-test is an opportunity for you to do this.
Tasks for the Writing sub-test are designed to ensure you have enough time in the remaining 40 minutes to write a response of the required length and check over what you have written. You can consult the task and the case notes at any point during the 40 minutes allocated for writing, not just during the reading time.
Why is the Writing sub-test in this format?
Although work is now mainly done on a computer, most medical professionals still have to prepare letters as part of their regular practice. The writing task, taken directly from the workplace context, requires you to select and organise relevant information and present it in a clear, accurate form that is appropriate for the intended reader. Preparing such a letter with only limited time is a reality for practising professionals.
Do I lose marks in the Writing sub-test for spelling mistakes?
Spelling, along with punctuation and grammar, is one of the aspects included under Language. Language is one of the six assessment criteria for the Writing sub-test. Any spelling mistakes you make will be taken account of in your score for Language.
What happens if I write too many/too few words in the Writing sub-test?
How should I address the intended reader of the letter?
You should use the title and address details specified in the task instructions.
What layout do I use? Where do I write the date and address?
A number of different formats are accepted by health professionals in different local contexts. It is important that your letter is clearly laid out and appropriate for the particular task but there is no particular format or layout that you have to use in the Writing sub-test.
Can I use all capitals in the Writing sub-test?
If it is your preference to write in all capital letters, you can. However, you must be consistent. In other words, don’t switch between CAPITAL and lower-case letters.
What scores on the level descriptors do I need to reach on the writing test?
You should aim to achieve the highest level in the descriptors for each criterion. Test-takers securing grade B will have achieved scores of 2 out of 3 for Purpose and 5 out of 7 for the remaining criteria.