Listening exam

You can only use abbreviations that are frequently used in the healthcare industry. You can’t use ones that are specific to a specialization or workplace.


You can only use abbreviations that are mentioned in the text.

In the writing exam

You can only use abbreviations that are appropriate to the provided context and commonly used in the healthcare industry. If your reader is a patient, for instance, using the complete form of the abbreviation is recommended. If your reader is a medical professional, on the other hand, using abbreviations is acceptable.

Best advice is – write very few Abbreviations

You can use abbreviations in your OET writing, reading, and listening tests but you should know what you have to avoid.

Check out some examples:

A.D.A may stand for

  • American Dietetic Association
  • American Dental Association
  • American Diabetic Association

RA may stand for

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Right Atrium

CHD may stand for

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Congenital Heart Disease

MS may stand for

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Mitral Stenosis
  • Mental Status

CT may stand for

  • Computer Tomography
  • Cerebral Tumor
  • Coronary Thrombosis

RVH may stand for

  • Reno vascular Hypertension
  • Right Ventricular Hypertrophy

As you can see these abbreviations are characterized by a high level of ambiguity. They can be confusing for the examiner to understand what you really want to convey.  Therefore, it is always suggested that you should avoid making use of abbreviations that may give two different meanings. Or it is always better to make use of abbreviations and then expand that as well. For instance, if you are writing CT then in the bracket you can write like (Cerebral Tumor or Coronary Thrombosis as what you would like to convey).

Abbreviation Complete Name
ADM admission / admitted
ASAP as soon as possible
AMA against medical advice
A&W alive and well
BMI body mass index
C Celsius, centigrade
C/O complains of
D.C discontinue / discharge
DO disorder
DOA dead on arrival, date of admission
EDC estimated date of confinement
EDD estimated delivery date
ER emergency room
F Fahrenheit
H&P history and physical examination
HPI history of present illness
H/O history of
ICU intensive care unit
IP inpatient
MVA motor vehicle accident
P pulse
Post-op postoperative, after surgery
Pre-op preoperative, before surgery
PA/PT patient
RBC red blood cell
SX symptoms
T temperature
VS vital signs
VSS vital signs stable
A&O alert and oriented
AOB alcohol on breath
BM bowel movement
BP blood pressure
C/F chills/fever
CP chest pain
Dx diagnosis
EBL estimated blood loss
GSW gunshot wound
HA headache
Hb hemoglobin
HR heart rate
LBP lower back pain
SOB shortness of breath
TBI traumatic brain injury
UO urine output
ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
AIDS acquired immune deficiency disorder
CA cancer
CAD coronary artery disease
CF cystic fibrosis
CV cardiovascular
GI gastrointestinal
HCV hepatitis C virus
HDV hepatitis D virus
HTN hypertension
TB tuberculosis
UTI urinary tract infection
BAL blood alcohol level
BC birth control
CXR chest x-ray
CPR cardiopulmonary resuscitation
ECG emergency cardiac arrest
ECG/EKG electrocardiogram
FB foreign body
hs hours of sleep
I&D incision and drainage
I&O intake and output
IV intravenous
IUPC intrauterine pressure catheter
In vitro In the laboratory
In vivo In the body
KUB kidney, ureter, bladder (x-ray)
PT physical therapy
UA urinalysis
US ultrasound

Written by Biju John

Love for English begins with understanding its unknown rules. Biju John lives on the internet, teaching OET, IELTS and PTE. More than a million students have thanked him from their heart.

Linking Notes to Purpose

Using “Nouns / Pronouns” in OET