How can I improve my performance on the Writing sub-test?

Our test developers and assessors for the Writing sub-test have identified a number of areas for improvement which apply to many candidates at each test session. We hope you will find these useful.

How can I improve my language proficiency?

Strong candidates are able to adapt their written communication to fit the different scenarios and target readers they might encounter in the test. This involves paying careful attention to the specific case notes in the task you are given on the day. Candidates who use pre-prepared material or who rely on techniques which worked for other tasks tend not to perform to their full potential in the test.

Candidates who make time to check their written work in the test are in a good position to correct avoidable errors. Make a mental checklist of types of error that you tend to make (such as incorrect passive forms or subject-verb agreement) and proofread your work specifically for those.

OET Writing tasks are designed to allow you to draw on your knowledge of language which occurs frequently in health professional contexts. It is therefore worth regularly reviewing common expressions to make sure you can produce them appropriately and accurately. It is also useful to develop an awareness of the specific language mistakes that you, as an individual, tend to make. Then when you check your work, you know what to look out for and you can avoid unnecessary errors.

OET Writing tests the ability to produce a letter that is appropriate for the situation given in the task. It is not necessary to repeat everything from the case notes or to give a chronological account. Be prepared to select and organise the information in a way that informs the reader appropriately and effectively.

Develop a brief checklist of questions to help you analyse a particular task before you start writing. The aim of the questions is to help you prioritise the important points from the case notes and to organise the information effectively in your letter. Questions which candidates find it useful to ask include

  • Who is the intended reader?
  • What are the main things I want the reader to do?
  • What does the reader need to know?

After you finish writing, re-read what you have written from the target reader’s point of view. Ask yourself whether it is clear what you have to do. If it is not clear, check to see that you have included everything relevant from the case notes.

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