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HomeBlogsDo you know the 3 main OET Letter types in the OET Writing sub-test?
Do you know the 3 main OET Letter types in the OET Writing sub-test?

Did you know there are three OET Letter types typically used in the OET Writing sub-test? While each is slightly different, all have the same goal. Find out how this affects your introduction and content selection in this quick guide.

The OET Writing sub-test requires you to plan and write a letter to another healthcare professional. The task requires you to use a range of skills to ensure the recipient fully understands what they need to do continue care.

For most OET professions, there are three types of letter you will typically encounter:

  • Referral
  • Transfer
  • Discharge.

Each letter type is based on a real-world scenario that would require a healthcare professional to communicate patient information to another healthcare colleague.

Three letter types, one goal

Although the purpose of the letter is different, your approach is the same.

You will need to select the case note information the reader needs to be able to continue care for the patient as per the Writing task.

Whether the letter is to refer, discharge or transfer, the selection of information and structure of the letter can be thought about in the same way.

Your letter’s introduction

While all the letter types in the OET Writing sub-test are similar, their differences become obvious when writing the opening paragraph. Here you need to explain the reason for writing the letter.

Remember, there isn’t one perfect phrase you can use to start every letter you write. Instead, you need to consider the task, the patient and their situation and explain this clearly to the reader. Here are some examples, but there are others:

  • Thank you for seeing/reviewing/providing…
  • I am writing to (urgently) refer/transfer/discharge/update/request…
  • Mr X, your (my) patient, / Your (My) patient, Mr X…

The Writing task or the final section of case notes will contain indicators to the kind of language you need to use in your introduction.

These two sections provide a summary of the situation and the action points for the reader. Both also explain any existing relationship between the reader and the patient, which can impact how you should start the letter.

Special Note: Allied Health professions

For some OET professions, namely Pharmacy and Veterinary Science but occasionally Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy, you might be asked to write an information or advice letter to a patient, carer or group. Radiographers might also have to write a response to a complaint letter. 

For all letter types, the advice remains the same. Use the Writing Task to determine the purpose of the letter, select the information the reader needs and structure the information in order of importance to the reader. 

For more information about writing, please check out the OET Writing Guide. It has in-depth chapters on each of the categories used to assess your letter.