Analyzing Case Notes and Writing a Formal Letter
In the OET writing test, you read through case notes and then write a letter to another healthcare professional. The letter will either refer, transfer, or discharge a patient who needs further management of their condition. It is important to remember that the OET writing exam tests your reading skills as much as your writing skills. Learning to effectively read through and analyze case notes, like the ones you see on the screen, is crucial for getting a high score on test day.
Let us begin by looking at the instructions. At the top of the case notes, you have five minutes for reading and another 40 minutes to complete your letter. For this specific task, you will write the letter as a school nurse; your patient is a six-year-old child.
An important tip before reading further is to go straight to the end of the exam paper and look at the writing task. This will give you certain details to remember before reading the rest of the notes.
The task states: “Using the information in the case notes, write a referral letter to Jonathan’s GP, Dr. Gregory, to request his intervention. Address the letter to Dr. Gregory, Health Clinic, at Along 4867.” The last part is the same for every OET writing test, which instructs you to expand the relevant case notes into complete sentences and use letter form, not note form.
Now that we know whom we are writing to and what we are asking them to do let’s analyze the case notes to gather the necessary information for our letter.
Analyzing the Case Notes
- Start by reading the notes from the beginning to understand the details about the boy and why we are writing to his GP.
- At the beginning of the case notes, you will find today’s date and the patient’s name and age. These details will go into the subject line of your letter.
- The mother’s name and home address may not be included in the letter since the boy’s GP should already have this information.
- Continue reading the notes and select the relevant details for your letter. For example, the boy’s current medical issue (discharge from left ear earache) and his medical history (frequent otitis media and hospital admissions with acute gastroenteritis).
- Consider the impact of the boy’s health issues on his academic progress and include this information in your letter.
- Identify any details that are not relevant to the letter, such as social background information.
- Focus on understanding what the letter should address and select information accordingly.
Now that we have analyzed the case notes, it’s time to write the letter.
Writing the Formal Letter
Begin your writing exercise by copying its address into your notepad’s lower section. Arrange it to fit within the left-hand corner of your letter, with each section separated by lines; do not include punctuation marks due to differences between letter writing formats and case notes.
Next, write the date using British or American standard formatting; be consistent throughout your letter by leaving one extra space between your address and date. Finally, skip one line between them both when writing letters!
Now is the time to write out the body of your letter and expand upon any details in your writing assignment that need attention. Make your writing concise and precise by leaving unnecessary information that might divert readers’ attention.
If you need additional case notes to practice writing your letter, feel free to download a free PDF through the link in the description. It provides space for writing out sample letters based on information and writing tasks included within it.
Remember to devote enough time and attention to analyzing case notes and comprehending their complete picture, which will allow you to include all relevant details in your letter and score well on the OET writing test.
Writing an OET Letter
When writing out the date in words, use the format “day, month, year” with no commas. Be consistent throughout the letter and choose either the American or British standard for titles (i.e., Mr, Mrs, Dr).
After writing the date, skip a line and decide whether to start with the subject line or salutation. Use a colon after the subject line and write the patient’s name without a title.
Separate each section of the letter with a blank line to make it organized and easy to read. Now, let’s move on to the body of the letter.
Writing the Body
The first sentence should clearly state the letter’s purpose, including the type of letter, the patient’s name, what you expect the reader to do, and the patient’s main issue or condition.
Logically organize the relevant information, starting when the patient presents with a problem. Include details about the patient’s history, recurring issues, and relevant information from the case notes.
In the final body paragraph, clearly state your request using polite and formal language. Keep all of your requests together in this paragraph.
End the letter with a sentence inviting the reader to contact you with any questions. Sign off with “Yours sincerely” and your title (nurse or doctor).
Remember to proofread your letter for any mistakes before submitting it.