OET: Reading Guide
OET Test Preparation Specialists
The OET Reading component is made up of three parts, with a total of 42 questions. In total, the sub-test takes one hour to complete. The test is the same for candidates across all health professions, and information presented is not specific to any one profession.
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Part A of the Reading sub-test is called the ‘expeditious reading task.’ It will take 15 minutes only. It assesses your ability to find specific information, found across four short texts. All the texts relate to only one healthcare topic. There are a total of 20 questions in this section, meaning that you will have less than one minute per question. Questions may be short answer questions, may require you to complete sentences, or might require you to match words or phrases. You must ensure that you use the exact same form of the word or short phrase as is used in the test. E.g. if the text says ‘diagnosing’ then writing ‘diagnosis’ is not an adequate response and would not receive marks.
Part B is one of two ‘careful reading tasks.’ You will be provided with six short texts which will be sourced from generic healthcare information, which could be found in your workplace. Possible examples include hospital guidelines, health and safety documentation, a manual that provides instructions on how to use a given piece of equipment, a hospital-wide announcement or memo, or an email about recent changes to the running of the hospital. Each text will have one multiple choice question associated with it, which will have three options only.
Part C is the second ‘careful reading task.’ Here you will need to identify a deeper meaning, or the opinion being conveyed, across two texts. These texts will relate to hot topics in healthcare, and therefore have far more nuance than the texts provided in Part B. Each text will have eight multiple choice questions associated with it. Each question has four options.
Parts B and C combined will take 45 minutes.
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Assessment & Tips
In order to succeed in the OET Reading Section, you will need to understand how you are being assessed and what aspects of your ability are being assessed.
Part A, the ‘expeditious reading task’ is designed to assess your ability to quickly process information across a range of texts (although the texts will relate to the same topic). You will need to find particular bits of information, and this will involve an understanding of how information is typically conveyed or presented. Make sure that you are used to finding information written in English quickly – perhaps through reading as many medical journal articles as possible. You will need to be able to find both numbers and written words in order to succeed here. The time limit of 15 minutes means that you will have only 45 seconds in which to answer each of the 20 questions.
Part B assesses your ability to understand either the details, or the principal conclusion, of a more complex text. You will need to be able to both delve into the text and understand specific components of it, and formulate a wider understanding of what the text is aiming to convey. A tip here is to understand which types of text are more likely to convey a broader argument, and which are more likely to convey detailed information without an overall argument. E.g. an email is more likely to convey an argument than a health and safety document.
Part C assesses your ability to understand meaning in a longer text. That meaning might be more or less clear – it could be an undercurrent of meaning, hidden within suggestive words in the text, or it could be clearly outlined as a conclusion to the passage. If you wish to succeed here, make sure that you are able to draw out meaning and sentiment from words commonly used when making an argument or voicing an opinion. You should expect more complex phrasing here, and therefore ensure that you spend enough time reading each part. Do not be concerned if at first the meaning is not completely clear – look for keywords and concepts that can direct you.
There are 42 marks available in total for the Reading section. Part A accounts for 20 marks, Part B accounts for 6 marks and Part C accounts for 16 marks.
Your assessors will be marking responses against a marking guide, and any answers that assessors are unsure of will be referred on to seniors. You must use correct spelling and grammar, although both American and British spellings will be accepted.