So it’s time to get ready for the next OET exam. You’ve been revising and taking your practice tests in preparation, but you need a bit of help to remember your strategies for the Reading Part A. Or maybe you are at the beginning of your OET journey and you could do with some advice about how to approach the practice tests so that you can get some good habits in place before you think about taking the tests. There are different ways of approaching this section of the tests. For a more in-depth guide, take a look at our 4-step method article. If you prefer a quick check-list, then our speedy success guide is a great place to start!
1. Read the text TITLES
When you open up the booklet for reading part A, after you have read through the instructions and read the topic title, the first thing that you need to do is to read the titles of each of the four texts. The titles will give you a general idea of what the text contains as well as what type of text it is. Pay particular attention to the actual words in the title. They are likely to contain key words that will link to the statements and questions.
2. Read the statement or question THOROUGHLY
Do NOT miss any words when you are reading the statement. It is essential that you read every word in the statement with the gap as the keywords will provide the clues to find the relevant information in the texts. Skimming and scanning skills are great for the texts but not for the questions.
3. Decide what TYPE of word will go in the gap
For the gap fill questions, a great strategy to help you find the relevant word quickly and avoid easy mistakes is to predict what word class the word is from so that it makes sense in the sentence. If you read the sentence to yourself in your head so that you can almost hear it, you will clearly be able to see whether you are looking for a noun, adjective, verb or adverb, for example.
4. Highlight KEYWORDS in the question/statement
As we said in step 2, the statements will provide the clues that you need to find the correct part of the text and the word or phrase you are looking for. Highlight words or numbers that you feel are important; keywords that will lead you to the relevant words in the text. Think of yourself as a word detective! This will direct you where you need to go to avoid reading through all of the four texts to find the answer as you simply will not have time.
5. SCAN the text for the keywords
By following the first 4 steps, you should now have a good idea of which text to look in for the given question. You will need to use your skimming and scanning skills here. This means that rather than reading the whole text as you usually would if you were not in an exam situation, you need to run your eyes over the text to find the keywords that you have identified. When you have found what you are looking for, write it in the gap.
6. Read and CHECK the completed statement
This links back to step 3 when you made a prediction about which type of words would fit in the gap. When you are reading the sentence, with the word you have selected now in place, read it ‘out-loud’ in your head and make sure that it sounds right. If you have chosen a verb instead of a noun, for example, you will be able to spot that you have made an error and you will then need to look again to find the correct word. It is tempting not to do this as you are desperate to move on to the next question, but this is where MANY mistakes are made in the reading part A of the OET test and a fantastic way of picking up more marks.
Try using this 6-step method in preparation when you are doing practice tests at home rather than waiting until the exam to try it out (by which time you may well have forgotten it)! The more practice reading tests you complete, the better and if you have used a method many times, you will instinctually know what to do when OET exam time comes.