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3 OET spelling tips to help you reach the perfect score

Nurse Speaking and helping patient

Learning correct spelling is hugely important to mastering the English language. It also plays a role in effective healthcare communication, such as reducing the risk of medication errors.

This is reflected in OET. But not all parts of OET put the same emphasis on correct spelling.

So before you sit OET, it’s important to understand that different parts of OET have different requirements when it comes to spelling.

Make sure you’re clear on these by following these 3 tips:

Listening Part A 

Provided the assessor can work out the word you are attempting to spell, and this is the correct answer, you will get the mark.


  1. The correct answer is pneumonia. These answers, among other possibilities, are acceptable: newmonia, neumonea, pnemonia
  2. The correct answer is injection. These answers, among other possibilities, are acceptable: injecktion, injecsion. This answer is not acceptable: infection. The assessor cannot guess whether you were attempting to write injection and made a typo or thought the answer was infection.

Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with the spelling of the answer, spell it phonetically (as it sounds).

Reading Part A  

Questions 8-20 may require you to complete a gap or to write a short answer to a question. Your spelling must be 100% accurate for all your answers.

  1. For gap-fill questions, if you have found the correct answer, you will not need to make any changes to the words in the text. For example, you will not need to change the adjective in the text to a noun to make it fit the gap. The correct answer can be lifted as it is from the text.
  2. For short answers to questions, you only need to write the answer, perhaps less than 3 words. You do not need to write a complete sentence.

Tip: Copy the word or words exactly from the text.

Writing sub-test

The accuracy of your spelling is assessed in the Writing sub-test. To achieve a B grade, you do not have to have perfect spelling but it’s always good to aim for perfection.

  1. Some misspelled words will stand out more than others for example: misspelling writting in the phrase: I am writing to… Or, misspelling sincerly in the closing phrase: Yours sincerely. Make a good impression and make sure you avoid such simple mistakes.
  2. While both American and British spelling conventions are accepted, you need to be consistent with your spelling of the same word throughout the letter. For example, if you use the American spelling of tumor then all other occurrences of this word should use American spelling rather than the British spelling: tumour.

Tip: Write a list of words you find difficult to spell on a piece of paper or card about the size of a credit card. Keep it in your purse or wallet then, whenever you have a few minutes, you can take out the list and revise your spellings.

For more great tips like these, make sure you take a look at our OET blog. You will also find language quizzes, grammar tips and links to preparation videos.