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14 questions about the OET Letter layout you need to know

By 15 September 2021Preparation Portal, Test Tips, Writing

Take a look through these 14 most popular questions we received from you about the layout of your OET letter in the Writing sub-test.

1. Is there a difference between ‘Yours sincerely’ and ‘Yours faithfully’?

‘Yours sincerely’ is standard and is used if you know the name of the recipient.
‘Yours faithfully’ is an option used if you aren’t given the reader’s name in the task, only their job title. Other options are acceptable but informal endings should be avoided.

2. Should I sign my name at the end of the letter?

There is no requirement to write your own name. You only need to write your job title (Nurse, Doctor, etc).

3. How many paragraphs should I write?

There is no set requirement for the number of paragraphs you should write. Between 3 and 5 is normal.

4. Do I need to use a closing sentence? Is it counted in the word count of the letter?

A closing sentence is best practice for a healthcare letter as it shows formal, polite respect to the recipient. It will not be included in your final word count by the assessors.

5. Which parts of the address should be in capital letters?

The names of people, job titles and names of streets, suburbs, cities etc should be capitalized. Here’s an example:

Ms Nita Roberts
In-Home Nursing Service
79 Beachside Street

6. Where and how should I write the date?

Check out our tips on writing dates.

7. What else can I write on the reference line? Should I write the address or marital status?

The only requirement for the reference line is the patient’s full name and date of birth. If no date of birth is provided, you can include the patient’s age in the reference line. You are not expected to add in the patient’s home address, marital status, occupation or other details.

8. Am I marked according to the number of lines I write?

No. Everyone has different sized handwriting, you are only marked on the number of words in your letter.

9. Which part of the letter is counted in the word limit of 180-200 words?

Only the main body paragraphs are counted in your word limit. This starts with your opening paragraph. Refer to this blog post for best practices.

10. Can I write the whole letter in block capitals?

Yes, if you are taking OET on paper but you must keep it consistent throughout the letter: if you start writing in capital letters, you need to write the whole letter in capital letters. If you are taking OET on computer, block capitals are not recommended.

11. How many lines should I leave between sections of the letter?

You should leave at least one blank line in between the main body paragraphs, but do not write your whole letter on every other line, it does not assist the reader particularly.

12. Can I write below the last line of the page in order to finish off my letter?

We don’t recommend this. You are welcome to use all the lined paper you are given for your letter so use the lines on the next page to finish the letter.

13. Will I be given rough paper to plan my letter on?

There is space on the back of the writing booklet for you to write notes and do rough work. This will not be marked.

14. Do you accept British or American spelling?

British or American versions of spelling are equally acceptable but you should be consistent with the version that you use during the letter.

OET Writing Guide