The OET Reading sub-test consists of 3 parts (Part A, Part B and Part C) with a total of 42 questions (20 questions in Part A, 6 questions in Part B and 16 questions in Part C). You will be given 15 minutes to complete Part A and 45 minutes to complete Part B and Part C. The Reading sub-test is the same across all healthcare professions and it does not matter if you are sitting for the test as a nurse, doctor, dentist, etc. Since you will be under quite a bit of time pressure during the test, it is good to bear in mind the following tips to help you improve your score.
Part A is the ‘expeditious reading task’ and tests your skimming and scanning skills. You will only have 15 minutes to complete the entire section which has 20 questions (consisting of matching, sentence completion and short answer question types). That means you will only have 45 seconds to spend on each question, and this does not even include reading time. If you include the reading time, you will have even less than 45 seconds to spend on each question! Since Part A is about collecting information from different texts, you can switch between different texts given in order to find your answer. One useful tip is to read the questions first so that you know what to look for as you read. Another tip to look out for specific names and numbers – names of people, names of treatments and illnesses, names of countries, numbers, dates and other numerical data. Scan the texts and zoom in on them.
After Part A, you will go on to do Part B and Part C and will only have 45 minutes to read six short texts for Part B and two longer texts for Part C. Part B is about understanding the gist of six short texts. Each text will have one multiple choice question with three answer options. You will need to choose one option out of the three as your answer. Take note that all the options will be related to the text so you need to be careful and consider which one answers the questions in the best way. Don’t just choose the first option you see because the next two options may be even better. Part C, which most candidates find the hardest, tests your understanding of how meaning is conveyed and how well you can infer attitudes and opinions. In this part, you will have 4 options to choose from for each question. There will be 2 long texts with 8 questions each.
Time is of the essence in the OET Reading sub-test. However, this does not mean that you can be sloppy in your answers, especially in Part A. Bear in mind that you need to use the exactly the same form of the word or short phrase as given in the texts for Part A. Spelling is therefore important. If you get have identified the correct piece of information but spell it wrongly, you will not get any marks. You are also not allowed to use any abbreviations unless it was used in the texts.
Needless to say, make sure that you have completed the answer booklet correctly. For Part A, write directly onto the line given for each question. For Part B and C, ensure that you follow the instructions provided carefully and fill in your answers using a 2B pencil because a computer will be marking these two parts. If you want to amend your answer, erase it completely and then fill in the new answer clearly.
There will not be any extra time given to check your answers. Any checking that you need to do will be done within the allocated time. For Part A, it is worthwhile checking your spelling to make sure that you have copied your answers correctly from the texts. For Part B and Part C, you can double check the location where you found your answers from in the text AND you should also check why the other options have been ruled out. Reasons to rule out an option include because only part of the answer is given in the text or the text says the opposite of what was given as an option.
Out of the total of 42 marks for the Reading sub-test, Part A will account for 20 marks, Part B will account for 6 marks and Part C will account for 16 marks. Candidates will need at least 30 marks in total if they hope to get a minimum Grade B in the Reading sub-test. Practice is definitely required to achieve this. If you need Reading practice materials, you can click this link for some extra help.