Having a proper layout of the letter in OET writing test is important. It is one of the criteria in the OET Writing Assessment. *(See presentation feature)
Also, a good layout of the letter will help you write down important information logically and in a cohesive manner. It adds a neatness to your writing and helps you plan your letter quickly and effectively on the OET test day.
S.OET’s A Complete Guide to OET Letter format
Be flexible in your approach to the letter rather than following a strict structure.
According to the task, case notes and the level of emergency of the situation, sometimes, you may need to change the structure of your letter, therefore, these factors should be taken into consideration before planning the letter.
Blocked or indented format?
A formal letter (OET letters are always formal) is usually written in a blocked or indented format. You can choose either as you wish however, the block style is more encoraged
Parts of a letter
- 1. Recipient’s name and address
- 2. Date
- 3. Salutation
- 4. Name and age of the patient
- 5. Introduction
- 6. Summary of the chief complaints
- 7. Summary of the additional information
- 8. Discharge/ transfer/treatment plan and medications
- 9. Closing sentence
End of the body
- 10. Sign off
- 11. Your job title
1. Recipient’s name and address
Include the title and the name of the recipient if it is given. The formal titles that can be used in OET letter writing are,
Ms (Miss or Mrs if it is mentioned)
Example: Dr Bradshaw or Ms Bradshaw
Only omit the title if you are not sure about the person’s gender like in case of unisex names. If the name is not given, including the job title of your recipient.
Community health nurse,
The Emergency registrar,
2. Date (Where to put the date and in what format?)
The date of writing the letter can be placed either at the beginning of the letter or after the recipient’s name and address.
You can either use the full format (2nd October 2018 or 2 October 2018) or just numbers with slashes (2/5/2018). It is also acceptable to use the full format at the beginning of the letter and the number with slashed inside (the body) of the letter.
3. The Salutation (Greeting)
The formal salutations in letters always start with the word ‘Dear’ followed by the title and the Surname of the recipient.
Dear Ms Carter
Dear Alexis Carter (If you are confused with the gender of the recipient)
Dear Community Health Nurse (If there is no name given, use the job title)
4. Name and the age of the patient you are referring
A good practice is to write the full name and the age of the patient here. Preferably in one line separated by a comma.
Re: Ms Monica Smith, aged 71 years
It is also acceptable to use the date of birth of the patient
Example: Re: Ms Monica Smith, DOB 10/05/1982
Body of the letter
Ideally, The first paragraph should state your purpose of writing the letter and the following paragraphs should elaborate on the information.
(Remember the words are only counted from here)
The introduction of the letter should be short and must clearly state the purpose of the letter.
It should include the name of the patient, the chief complaint and the purpose of writing the letter.
Letters can begin with phrases like,
Mr Daniel is being discharged today back to your care
Thank you for seeing Mr Daniel
I am writing to refer Mr Daniel
6. Summary of the chief complaint(s)
Give a detailed summary of the chief complaint in this section of the letter. (Sometimes according to the case notes and the nature of the task you may need to write more than one paragraphs for this.)
7. Secondary or additional information
In this section of the letter, you can add more relevant information about the patient that you think your recipient should know. (Also: Sometimes according to the case notes and the nature of the task, you may need to write more than one paragraphs for this)
8. Discharge/ Treatment/ Transfer plans and medications
According to the type of letter (referral or discharge,etc.), this paragraph(s) should mention the plans from the case notes.
9. Closing Sentence
This is an important part of a formal letter. Here you are telling your recipient that you are willing to answer any questions they may have. This sentence gives a nice correspondence tone to your letter.
A common phrase is,
‘If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me.’
10. Sign off
There are mainly two formal sign off styles,
‘Yours sincerely’ and ‘Yours faithfully’.
For OET letters, however, S.OET suggest you use ‘Yours sincerely’ as your sign off as all the official sample answers from OET are signed in that way.
11. Your job title
You don’t need to write your name in OET letter. Writing instead your job title is enough.
Read S.OET’s OET Writing strategy to improve your score in OET Writing Sub-test.