OET Writing | Using the Case Notes Effectively (OET Podcast Ep. #4)

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In this episode of the Swoosh English OET Podcast, UK English teachers Scott and Una discuss the OET Writing Task and how to use, read and understand the case notes. This podcast gives you a clearer idea of how to approach the task, how to delve into the notes, and expand on them later.

Listen to the episode on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts


 01:43 Overview of OET Writing

• The task involves writing a letter, more often than not a referral letter

• It will be profession-specific

• 45 minutes in total, 5 minutes to plan and 40 minutes to write

• Use the 5 minutes in the beginning wisely!

• The letter should be written in a clinical and factual manner

• The main idea is to consider who the recipient is and be able to convey what the ailment or condition of the patient is immediately

• Do not include medical information and knowledge outside of what is provided in the case notes

07:31 Scoring criteria for OET Writing


• Layout the purpose in the first paragraph


• Accurate information in the letter

Conciseness and clarity

• Takes into consideration how much relevant and irrelevant information was included

• Looks at word count (is your letter between 180 and 200 words?)

Genre and style

• Refers to register, tone, use of abbreviations, etc

Organization and layout

• Letterheads, logical flow, overall structure, and signoff


• Accuracy of your grammar, vocabulary, and spelling

09:59 First thing to do:

• Establish the purpose of the letter (Who are you writing to? Are they in the same profession? Recipient and patient’s name? Main ailments? And what action do you want the person you refer to take?)

12:11 Analyzing the case notes

• Skim the notes in the first 5 minutes to catch the information that is jumping out at you

• The case notes are written in bullet points 

• Keep the recipient in your mind the whole time to make sure you convey the right information 

• Identify what the health issue is and the most recent updates

• Cross out irrelevant information (Examples: marital status, jobs, family members, etc)

• Highlight or circle relevant information

19:18 Expanding the case notes in your letter

• Use articles (a, an and the)

• Use pronouns


6 wk history progressively ↑ p in R and L knee joints

Answer without articles:

The patient has a 6-week history of progressively increasing pain in right and left knee joints.

Answer with articles:

The patient has a 6-week history of progressively increasing pain in the right and left knee joints.



Depressive symptoms [reclusive, antisocial, irritable, agitation]

Answer with cohesive devices and linking words:

The patient has demonstrated depressive symptoms including a tendency towards reclusive and antisocial behavior. She has also shown signs of irritability and agitation.


Medications oa glucosamine 1500 mg daily

Answer with prepositions:

In reference to medication, the patient takes 1500 mg of glucosamine per day for osteoarthritis.

Verb tenses:

↓ ADL- stopped accessing local shops and friends within walking distance

Answer with correct verb tenses:

The patient has reduced her activities of daily living. Specifically, she has stopped accessing local shops and visiting friends who live by.

For much more helpful tips, simply go to www.swooshenglish.com.

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