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OET – Dos and Don’ts

There are over 200 Dos and Don’ts in OET Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening. Here are some of them.

Scheduled on / Scheduled for

Incorrect Correct
She has a follow up scheduled on 12th March. She has a follow up scheduled for 12th March.
His next visit has been scheduled on 30th of this month. His next visit has been scheduled for 30th of this month.

Since / For

Since For
Since + a start time For + the duration from the starting time.
She has been under my care since Monday. She has been under my care for three days.

Remember, you can use since when you know the starting time. You can use for when the duration is known.

  • Even if the action started an hour ago or a thousand years since, you can use have, have been, has, has been + since / for if the action is not interrupted

Can we use since in place of ‘as’?

Yes, but that “since” is different in usage and meaning. That’s like, “Since (as) I was too late for the session, I didn’t understand the use of since.”

Advise / Advice

Advise and advice has almost same meaning but they are used for two different purposes:

Advise (Verb) Advice (Noun)
She doesn’t like my advice when I advise her in a bad temper. She doesn’t like my advice when I advise her in a bad temper.
“She doesn’t like my what? When I do what?

Double Past Tense

  • Mr Pastor did not received
  • Mr Pastor did not receive

What is correct? First or second?

  • The second is correct because after “did” we should use the first (present) form of the verb.
  • However, remember, after “had” we use v3 forms:
  • Like, “She had forgotten..”

Presented / Was Presented / Admitted

  • Presented – Came alone (Usually with mild problems..)
  • Was presented – Was brought by someone else (Usually for babies, kids, children, collapsed / fainted patients who cannot present by self)

Please read the explanation:

  • Admitted = when the patient has got admitted
  • Presented = Not necessarily admitted
  • All presenting are not admissions.

Your care!

Never write “your” care. Look at these sentences:

  • She has to be provided your care
  • She has to be provided care

Your care can confuse. It sounds like the “recipient’s care!” The correct usage is, “Ms Parker requires care and management at your facility.”

Use / usage

In most medical cases, avoid “usage” but use “use”.

Use Usage
Use of a walker. Usage + of a language
Use of over the counter medicines is not recommended. Mainly cocaine and alcohol with the last use of cocaine on 28 February…

Recuperating from / after surgery

  • With surgery, we never say “recuperating from” because surgery is not a disease condition, so:
    • Recuperating after a surgery
    • Recuperating from a fatal condition

Action Cycle

This is a very important topic. If you understand this, 50% of your tense issues will be solved right away.

An action has a cycle. I mean, every action has a cycle.

“I have started this class.”

  • The action, “started” has a cycle.
  • This will complete its cycle when the action is completed.

Or the doctor says, “She is admitted.”

What are the follow up actions?

  • Admitted (at 2 PM)
  • Primary investigations from 2.10 to 2.30
  • X Ray and some other procedures from 2.40 to 3.20.
  • Medication
  • Other processes
  • Advice, discussing plans
  • Patient improved
  • Discharged at 8 PM

This is called action cycle.

Suppose you are talking to that doctor now. So, when the doctor is taking about the patient, he has to use “has” or has been”

  • At 3 pm, he has to say, “he has just been sent to the X Ray room”
  • Similarly, till 7.59, he should use “has” or “ahs been”
  • But, after 8.01, when he talks about that patient, he should use only “he was admitted, he wa sent to the X ray room… etc.

Repeating Month and Year

This is a very serious issue.

Suppose you are writing a letter in August, say, Aug 3, about an admission on 10th of the same month. Many of you write like, “She was admitted on 10th August.” Is it correct?

Suppose, you are writing on August 3, 2020 about an admission on the 10th of the same month. What will you write / say?

  1. He was admitted on the 10th?
  2. He was admitted on the 10th of this month?
  3. He was admitted on the 10th of August?

Suppose you have an exam on 22nd of this month. So, someone is asking you, “Hey, when are you sitting the OET exam?” If today is 20th of the same month, what’s your reply?

  1. On this 22nd
  2. On the 22nd of this month
  3. On the 22nd of August
  4. On the 22nd of August, 2020
  5. Day after tomorrow?

Correct expressions for the questions above are:

  1. He was admitted on the 10th or He was admitted on the 10th of this month.
  2. On the 22nd of this month or Day after tomorrow.

This is the best explanation for the question I raised above. Attention! When you commit such errors, the assessor gets a negative impression about you!

A surgery or Surgery

This has been a very worrying question, should we use an article that shows “a” or not before a procedure, disease condition?

  • In most cases we don’t, means 99%
  • We don’t usually say “she had a fever”. We simply say “she had fever…”
  • But we can say, “she had a myocardial infarction…” because it is healthcare event as well as a disease condition.

Some Tense Issues

Use simple past if the action is completed.

  • She was admitted yesterday (when?)
  • He demanded more food in the morning (when?)

Use present perfect if the action is not completed.

  • She has been advised (But she has not followed the advice)

Now, what is your answer?

Has had, has, is

She has had hypertension
For a while she has hypertension
She is hypertensive

Avoiding Judgmental Words

She is suffering from it, for a while
She has hypertension
Avoid this style because it is not usually used. As I said, it is not a positive fact that someone is ill!

  • You can also use words like, “she is feverish, she is diabetic, she is insomniac… etc.
  • If you get time learn the medical adjectives…

Using H with timed events

If the event has a time, like, Millie met with an accident on Monday, do not use has, have or had.

  • H words are have, has and had.
  • Has goes after singular subjects like he, she, Ms Millie, Mr Jones, etc.


Suppose your patient Mr Parker was admitted due to stroke in 2015. So, when you write “he ____ a history of stroke…” OR “he had a history?

Discharged / Was discharged / Has been discharged

Is discharged Is discharged means the patient is either leaving the hospital at present – almost left the hospital
Is being discharged Is being discharged means the process is going on but the patient is getting ready, packing his things, paying the bills
Has been discharged Has been discharged means the patient is gone but the hospital is in touch with him…
Was discharged Was discharged means the hospital is not in touch with the patient nor is the patient in touch with the hospital

Punctuation Errors

Who + Comma

  • Good evening, all!
  • Let’s complete this session.
  • I am also planning to discuss a bit about speaking if time allows me.
  • We have so far discussed 24 topics.
  • Here is the 25th one.
  • Where to write comma before “who?”
  • In smaller sentences, do not write comma before who.

This letter will introduce Ms Tailor who was admitted with the diagnosis of decompensated schizophrenia.

  • You can see that there is no comma here.
  • However, in longer sentences we need to add a comma before “who.” Let me try to add a comma in this sentence.

This letter will introduce Ms Tailor, who had been under your care in 2016, now admitted with the diagnosis of decompensated schizophrenia.

NB – When there a comma, another comma should be used to close it.

Capstart (Starting with a big letter)

If you start a medicine name with capital letters, that’s okay but do the same for all medication names. Most words in the address line should be capital. Like:

  • The Charge Nurse
  • Christ the Redeemer Hospital
    • Did you notice, “t” of the is small!
  • Dear Sir / Madam,
  • D, S and M should be capital.

What was managed?

He was managed with?
His condition was managed with?

  • We don’t manage a person but her condition
  • A social worker or occupational therapist manage people (to an extent)

Require / Requires

  • This is very simple but I have seen people using it
  • If the subject is she or he or a single person and if the tense is present, use vS forms
  • “She believes that life has no fulfillment…”
  • “Mr Lee lives alone….”

Signs of / Sign of

  • This is another error most of you commit!
  • The better and safer expression is without “the”
  • She has shown signs of myocardial infarction…
  • Why not “the”
  • The = all the
  • So, it is hard to figure out all the symptoms of a condition.
  • No patient ever shows all the symptoms.
  • We write like she presented with the signs of pneumonia?
  • Yes, we write for certain conditions where symptoms are very few… like two or three…
  • In you case, too, without “the” is better

Can be able to / Can / Is able to

Do not mix can and able to.

  • “She is able to tolerate light meals…”
  • “She can tolerate light meals…”
  • She can be able to tolerate light meals.

10 Repetition Errors


  • DO not write “to the hospital” after admitted.
  • Good morning. If you have not gone through the 1 to 15 topics, please go back to them after this session.
  • Let’s start.
  • As I said, do not write “to the hospital” because “was admitted” is self explanatory.
  • If you write, that’s against the conciseness criteria.


  • Many of you are aware of the 6 criteria based on which oet assessors give you a score.
  • I would like to explain it once again for new comers.
  • You have to follow all the 6 criteria to score 350+ in Writing.


  • The purpose of the letter would be clearly presented in the first paragraph.
  • Today someone asked me about the purpose of a letter during home visit. The patient has only symptoms but not diagnosed. She has Htn, insomnia, extreme sweating… etc
  • As these are suggestive of a stroke, the nurse has to write like, “she has suggestive symptoms of a stroke….”
  • Next


  • Content is the information you have to “include” in the letter.
  • You, being a nurse or doctor, should decide what to include.
  • Many candidates miss important information because they think that “this is not needed…”
  • So, only you can decide what to include.
  • Next


  • Conciseness is just the opposite to content.
  • This is about “what not to include” in a the letter.
  • As before, only you can decide what not to include.
  • To decide what not to include, always be sure about the recipient of the letter.
  • A social worker doesn’t need to know the medical history in depth
  • A doctor should not be informed of the social aspects
  • Any question?
  • Seems NO
  • Next


  • This is the kind of the overall appearance of the language. We should write in a formal language
  • To make your genre (style), avoid shortforms, follow the format, do not write in all-capital letters, etc.
  • The most common abbreviations you can write are CT, MRI. You should not even write HTN, COPD carelessly.
  • Next
  • Yes, we can… because that’s the only way to escape the situation but it can reduce your score for 2 reasons:
    • The assessor knows that you don’t know what this abbreviation means
    • You have used an abbreviation
  • Sir, can we write any abbreviation we are unsure?


  • This is all about where you place each information. There should be an order.
  • In most cases it is:
    • Purpose
    • Admission, assessment, vitals
    • Past history, present history
    • Management
    • Future plans
    • Social
    • Request
    • Closing of the letter
  • But in other cases, especially in non medical cases, this order can alter
  • Questions?
  • Next
  • No


  • Language means mostly grammatical fluency, vocabulary (lexical), punctuation, etc.
  • Of all the other criteria, language is the most challenging because language is boring!
  • Please improve language because that’s the number one reason that fails you…
  • I know many of you cannot agree with it!
  • Very few people have agreed with it. A minority. Less than 2%!
  • And that 2% are those who have cleared OET!
  • Any comments?
  • Someone asked….?
  • We are moving to the rest of the errors!
  • Learn this style.
  • This style can boost your score.
  • “A retired professor of Economics, Mr John lives in rented house with a servant….”
  • Let me give you a notes. Change it to this style.
  • Ms Lee. 56 years. Artist. Online seller. Lives with husband and 3 adult sons.


  1. A 56 year old online seller and artist, Ms Lee lives with her husband along with their 3 adult sons
  2. An artist as well as online seller, Ms Lee lives with husband and 3 adult sons
  3. An artist and an online seller, Ms Lee lives with husband and her 3 adult sons. (Need to change the order)
  • Suppose you have to refer to the patient in a paragraph.
  • If that is the first time, write the name, not he or she.
  • That’s simple. We do this because there are chances that the recipient has forgotten the name of the patient!
  • Clear?
  • Oh! I had disabled editing this page. Please close and open this page now.
  • Next
  • Look at this sentence:
  • Pertaining to her past medical history, she is hypertensive secondary to fibromuscular dysplasia and is on Levothyroxine 88mcg daily for primary hypothyroidism.
  • There are two pronouns in that sentence.
  • So, to make the sentence perfect, replace the second pronoun (she) with the name
  • Now see!
  • Pertaining to her past medical history, Ms Lee is hypertensive secondary to fibromuscular dysplasia and is on Levothyroxine 88mcg daily for primary hypothyroidism.
  • That’s also clear.
  • Next
  • It is good that you use being somewhere in the letter, to start a sentence.
  • It is a good alternative for “as” which you are not allowed to use in letters.
  • Being unemployed, Ms Taylor depends on disability allowance for schizophrenia.
  • Next or any question?
  • Anyone can type a reply.
  • Let’s move to the next topic


Every error is going to cut your score. The most important thing is, have a neat, clear handwriting. Do not cut and rub too hard. The paper is too fragile – it can tear! Make sure that your y and g are not having too long tails.

Make sure your t has a cutting just through it, not a kilometer away! Look at your i (small i). Does its dot lie just above it? Do not do cutting. You can just repair your letters rather than just cutting them. Look at your small a. It should not be like u.

Your small r should not be like i

If the assessor can’t read, you are gone! No point in crying after result!

  • Take a photograph of your “improved handwriting” and share in the group.

Remember, just like we don’t feel how bad our breath is, we fail to realize how bad is our handwriting. Remember, we write but someone else reads!

Too many or too few connectors

Connectors give your letter a flow. However, too many connectors or too few connectors will ruin the beauty of your letter.

Which connectors are okay?

And, but, or, however, therefore, although, unless, subsequently.

Avoid the use of the following connectors:

  • Furthermore, Moreover, Besides, Meanwhile, So.
  • Use “since” instead of “As”
  • You can, however, use “as” but not too often.


If you can remove the connector and the sentence still makes sense, then you are using a connector when one isn’t needed. Avoid this in OET when it is important to write efficiently without words the reader does not need.

Being unaware of the DoW and DoE

  • DoW is date of writing the letter
  • DoE is the date of the event.

Suppose you are referring to an event on 15th March, 2020 and you are writing the letter on 20th of March, 2020. Here:

  • DoW is 20th March, 2020
  • DoE is 15th March, 2020.

So, you should write like, “On 15th of this month Ms Millie was admitted,” not like, “On 15th March Ms Millie was admitted” or “On 15th of March 2020 Ms Millie was admitted.”

Not connecting X with Y and Z

X, Y and Z are main, sub and irrelevant information, respectively. When you mention something, you should connect it with another information in OET.

  • Her fever did not subside after administering paracetamol. (X)
  • She was administered Ibuprofen 400 mg intravenously. (Y)
  • 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours. (Y)

You can see one X and two Ys, which means, there is no irrelevant information here. What many of you do is write each point separately or in a single sentence but you fail to “connect” the like this below:

  • Ibuprofen 400 mg was administered intravenously and the same she received every 4 to 6 hours in an attempt to relieve her fever after a futile attempt with paracetamol.

This is time consuming but you don’t score for repeating what is given in the case notes.


  • Most of you commit errors with it
  • Who has underwent is incorrect
  • Use v3 after H verbs
  • H Verbs are Has, have, Had
  • Who has undergone (the patient has undergone a procedure but has not recuperated)
  • She Underwent (the patient underwent a process some time in the past. Remember, always add a timestamp with simple past)
    • She underwent polypectomy on 12th March
    • She has undergone polypectomy (no time reference)
  • A procedure, a test, anything
  • You know, when you commit such errors, the OET assessor (who is basically an English expert but not a medical professional) will feel bad about English, not about your medical skills.
  • Clear?
  • This is the time to ask and get anything clear!
  • I shall explain. Ask if you have questions.
  • If anyone is not able to type on this page, please let me know in the group!

Incorrect Purpose

Purpose is very important in the first and last paragraphs of an OET letter. Many candidates present the less important purpose and confuse the recipient of the letter.

  • Suppose Mr John is a patient who is at the terminal stage of cancer.
  • His doctors have concluded that he will not survive 50 to 60 days.
  • He is, therefore, being sent to a palliative care hospice for a pain-free, dignified life till death.
  • Today he fell down and wounded his elbow for which he has been treated.

Now, what is the purpose?

  • Injury?
  • Transfer to palliative care?

Certainly his fall and subsequent injury is NOT the main purpose but his cancer-related information and the kind of arrangement to be made at the care center.

Find out the remaining errors and correct usage.

Sit away from distractions and read these pages. Will take only 2 hours!

Dos and Don’ts
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23


Dos and Don’ts

  1. Read the question papers very carefully.
  2. The exam hall can be overtly cooled down. Carry a warmer.
  3. Have a full breakfast. Avoid non-vegetarian food to avoid stomach discomforts.
  4. Do not often look at the wall-clock fixed to scare you during the exam.
  5. Do not fail to submit your papers in time. You will not get an extra minute when each test ends. If you exceed time and fail to submit your papers, you will have violated a very important rule. That’s considered as malpractice. Your result can be disqualified.
  6. Do not speak to anyone during the exam. That’s malpractice.
  7. Do not help anyone during the exam. Just mind your own business.


  1. Start with Part A Questions 8 onwards.
  2. While you read each text, keep identifying the Main information, Examples, Lexicon, Opposites and Negatives (Melon). This will help you focus well!
  3. In most cases, the exact words are not asked. You will have to know the synonyms of the words in the question and text.


  1. Apply the same Melon Listening strategy. As you listen to the audio, keep comparing each sentence. Is it main? Is it an example? Is it opposite?
  2. Sometimes, do not expect the same word in the audio.


  1. Do not be in a hurry to say, “I understand your concern.”
  2. Ask a few questions to the patient, gather information and then say, “I can understand your concern.”
  3. Have sympathy.
  4. Do not scare the patient.
  5. If the patient (interlocutor) is angry, stay cool.
  6. If you do not know what to say, tell the patient, “for this, I am arranging a meeting with our dietitian right away.”


  1. As you get the case notes (question paper), read the “Writing task” at the end of it.
  2. Find out the recipient, patient, presenting condition and the purpose.
  3. Change the language based on the recipient.
  4. Do not scatter. Medical information should be in one place.
  5. Have a clean handwriting.

All the best!

  • Question of

    Ms Milie ____ on antibiotics three days ago.

    • was commenced medication
    • commenced medication
    • has commenced medication
  • Question of

    _____ Ms Millie stopped smoking for a year, her breathing did not improve.

    • However
    • Although
    • Hence
  • Question of

    This is ____ regard to Mrs Ashraf who requires palliative care as she has been diagnosed with terminal stage of intestinal cancer.

    • with
    • in
  • Question of

    Currently, Mrs Ashraf ____ to tolerate fluids.

    • can able
    • can
    • able
    • is able
  • Question of

    She ____ bowel resection and colostomy recently.

    • underwent
    • has undergone
  • Question of

    _____ would be beneficial if you could provide her care and management.

    • I
    • It
  • Question of

    Please note that ____ further treatment.

    • she refuse for
    • she refuses
    • she is refusal to
  • Question of

    Your’s faithfully,

    • Yours
    • Your’s
    • Yours’
  • Question of

    Ms Parker ____ of severe abdominal pain on admission.

    • Has complained
    • Complained


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  1. Biju,You are just amazing in your teaching style. I’m enjoying them like . Thanks so much for your tireless commitment.

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Day 2 Listening Task

Day 2 Labeling Tasks