Changes to OET Marking Criteria Part 1 - Purpose/Content/Conciseness & Clarity
Yes, the criteria for the OET Writing sub-test have changed. Before they were quite confusing (for example, Control of Presentation Features included punctuation!) but now they are much clearer. That said, some things never change! Good grammar, task achievement and vocabulary = a score of B and higher in OET.
Let’s go through some overview points and then do an explanation of 3 of the new criteria. The other 3 criteria will be reviewed soon.
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1. The number of criteria has increased from 5 to 6
2. The banding has changed from 6 to 7 (Apart from Purpose)
3. The new criteria more clearly differentiate between language and task
Criteria, step by step:
It’s always vital to remember that this type of task is supposed to replicate a typical work-related task for nurses and doctors. As such, it’s essential to keep in mind the purpose of your letter. In a work environment clear communication about tasks is everything! The recipient of the letter needs to know what the purpose is – QUICKLY!
You will need to:
· State the purpose of the letter in the opening paragraph
· State if the situation is urgent or not
· Stick to the task
· Expand the purpose of the letter in the last paragraph
This is the only criteria which has 0 – 3 banding score. Any student hoping to achieve B should be score 3.
Think about it – if the purpose of your letter is not clear or is not expressed, then the recipient will not be able to do their job.
In every OET Writing sub-test you are provided with a long list of case notes. This is the content. The case notes are structured differently in every test. However, they all have one thing in common – the case notes contain all of the information you need to complete your task. A key skill in OET is to identify which information is relevant and information which is not relevant.
You will need to:
· Understand what the task requires – Who are you writing to? Are they a physio? A nutritionist? Does the recipient know the patient?
· Include ALL necessary information which is related to the task
· Link case notes from different sections, to express how information is related
It’s simple – if you leave out important information or misrepresent information then the recipient will not be able do their job.
3) Conciseness and Clarity
A lot of people worry about the length of their task. Check out this advice from OET though:
“There is no automatic penalty for writing over or under the word range for the task (180 – 200 words).”
What is important is to complete the task according to the criteria and then you will probably be around the right number. But don’t waste any time counting words!
This is just one aspect of conciseness and clarity. This is a language-based criterion. Check out the two examples below. Which one is better?
· Mr Smith had a temperature of 37 C, respiration of 16 and a pulse of 88.
· Mr Smith’s vital signs were within normal range.
Of course, the second example is better. It is concise. That means to use a short phrase which perfectly describes a situation. The idea of being concise also applies to the letter as a whole. Do not include irrelevant details! Keep the letter focused!
Clarity is affected by lots of things but there are some key ideas, such as switching to different parts of the ‘story’ and mixing up tenses and focusing on unnecessary information.
You will need to:
· Have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary
· Understand how to summarise
· Understand and be able to display the storyline of the situation
If your writing is not clear, then the recipient will not be able to do their job.
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