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Updates to the New Edition of Kaplan Test Prep’s Official Guide to OET. Visit the Official OET Shop today.

Kaplan’s new edition of Official Guide to OET is out 4 February 2020 and has been revised to reflect the changes made in August 2019 to OET test specifications.

As these changes focused on updating the marking criteria of the Writing Task, the new edition of the Official Guide to OET includes an updated and expanded writing chapter. The updated content places a focus on guiding the student to write letters that will not only score well on the test, but that will also be appropriate for use in real-life healthcare scenarios.

This mirrors the changes made to the official marking criteria from OET, which highlight the importance of writing a letter that would be appropriate, useful and direct in a healthcare setting. Broadly speaking, the updates to OET’s Writing Task have been made to make sure that those who achieve a high score in the Writing Task are able to write effective letters in a professional, English-speaking, healthcare setting.

OET’s six marking categories

The current marking criteria for the Writing Task are:

Criteria Description

How well the letter immediately and effectively identifies the purpose of writing.


How effectively the letter uses relevant content from the case notes.

Conciseness and Clarity

How well the letter summarises the information and leaves out unnecessary information from the case notes.

Genre and Style

How effectively the tone and style of the letter match the subject and convey the information.

Organisation and Layout

How effectively the letter is laid out for the reader.


How effectively the grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation communicate the information to the reader.

In addition to these changes, the writing tasks and sample answers throughout the Official Guide to OET, including those found in the practice test, have been updated to align with the current specifications. The book as a whole has also been thoroughly proofread for the second edition to make sure all of the information included is relevant and helpful for OET students.

Small, but important changes

While the marking criteria for the writing section of the test have changed, the writing section will continue to follow the same format as it has in previous years. Students will still need to use patient case notes and a writing prompt to write a letter in a workplace context (usually a letter of referral).

As such, students will approach this task in a broadly similar manner to previous years. However, the changes to the marking criteria highlight key distinctions that students will need to be aware of when completing the task. These include the way they:

  • Use the case notes
  • Structure their letters
  • Communicate their message.

We recommend those studying for OET use the most up-to-date marking criteria found in the updated edition of Official Guide to OET. This ensures you are responding to each criterion appropriately.

You can find more information on the current OET Writing test specifications and advice on our OET test information page.