The OET Writing Criteria | Everything you need to know about the Assessment Descriptors! (OET Podcast Ep. #3)

OET Writing Criteria, OET Writing Scoring, the Writing Criteria


In this episode of the Swoosh English OET Podcast, UK English teachers Scott and Una discuss the 6 OET Writing criteria, namely: purpose, content, conciseness and clarity, genre and style, organization and layout and language.

What does each criterion assess? Read on to get the answer to this question and a lot more!



01:22 The 6 OET Writing Criteria:

#1 Purpose – Scored from a scale of 0 to 3

• The purpose is typically referring someone to another professional

• It needs to be immediately clear and apparent for the reader at the beginning

• Example: I am writing to refer the above patient who is suffering from worsening osteoarthritis. Your assessment and management are urgently required.

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#2 Content – Scored from a scale of 0 to 7

• Ask yourself: have I included all the necessary information in an accurate manner?

• Keep the letter in between 180 and 200 words

• You will not lose marks directly for being below or above the word count but having a letter that is too short might not contain enough information and affect your content score

• Writing above 200 words, however, might affect your conciseness score and maybe you put too much irrelevant information 

#3 08:59 Conciseness and clarity – Scored from a scale of 0 to 7

• If you are going above 220 words, your conciseness is not yet fully up to scratch

• Clarity talks about being clear and obvious

• Keep your sentences short

• Irrelevant information: marital status, jobs and repeating the age. Is it really relevant that the person that the patient is married?

• Only relevant medication should be referred to

#4 12:31 Genre and style – Scored from a scale of 0 to 7

• Assesses how appropriate your language is

• You are not writing in academic prose, only in short, factual and clinical style

• Technical abbreviations have to be considered: a doctor writing to another doctor can safely use some abbreviations since both understand technical medical abbreviations 

• Use of connectors: you are not writing an essay so some connectors are not appropriate

• Do not use judgmental language!

#5 16:30 Organization and layout – Scored from a scale of 0 to 7

• Suggestion: the first paragraph should be an introduction which states your purpose. The paragraph after that should include the most recent information. The next paragraph or two will go through that clinical information in order.

• Information about their social and medical history should be discussed in the next paragraph. And finally, the have an action at the end. And then sign off. 

• Avoid a letter that is too heavily based on the structure of the case notes!

#6 19:43 Language – Scored from a scale of 0 to 7

• English language ability

• Tests your grammatical accuracy

• The OET is not designed for you to show off your complex language skills

• Language refers to grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, tenses, passive voice, etc

• A common error is the lack of capitalization: start each sentence with a capital letter and end with a full stop.

23:30 Final point: as you are writing your letters, get a teacher to double-check the errors you are making and perform self-reflection about the mistakes you make. 

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7 thoughts on “The OET Writing Criteria | Everything you need to know about the Assessment Descriptors! (OET Podcast Ep. #3)”

    1. Swoosh English Team

      Hi Harsha,

      Using polite language comes under the ‘genre and style’ criteria, which is worth 7 marks. To score a 7, you must use polite language appropriately, but you must also use a clinical/factual style and technical language appropriately. If there are some inconstancies in these things or they are not used appropriately, your score will be lower. It is recommended that you learn how to use polite language so you can ensure that you do not lose marks.

    1. Hi Yogita. Thanks for your question. I would say you won’t fail your OET Writing test just because you included a couple of pieces of irrelevant information, as there are 5 other writing criteria that are also taken into consideration when marking your letter. It is important to try and satisfy all of the criteria to the best of your ability to give you the best chance of passing. I recommend being familiar with the OET writing criteria and getting regular teacher feedback to see which areas you need to work on. Have you take your OET exam yet?

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