OET Reading Section: Core Preparation Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

To best prepare for the OET reading section, you will need to strengthen your general reading skills, strengthen your ability to read in English, and practice the test format itself.

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General Reading Skills

You ought to read content in English as much as possible in order to best prepare. However, you naturally find yourself reading texts in your own language as well in your free time. We advise using this time productively. Try to reflect whilst reading and ensure that you are able to quickly highlight the main points of the piece that you have just read. If you are reading a medical journal, can you quickly summarise the key findings from the article that you just read? If you are reading a general brief whilst at work, can you immediately point to the core message?

You should consider the manner in which pieces are written too – is the author trying to convey a particular viewpoint? Are they looking to persuade you of their beliefs, or are they simply providing you with information to use as you see fit?

Through consistently practising your general reading and comprehension skills, you will become more confident in immediately selecting the correct answer when faced with the OET paper.

Starting Out

Try to begin your practice sessions with short pieces, or even extracts from larger articles. Doing this will allow you to quickly gain the required skills to analyse longer pieces, and ensure that you are able to learn efficiently at first. This is especially relevant when looking at pieces that are written in English. This is also more time-efficient; we understand that reading solely in English, or regularly reading very long pieces of text in English, is not an efficient use of your time at the outset. You should ensure that you have given yourself a long enough preparation schedule that you can move confidently from these shorter pieces, or pieces written in your own language, onto increasingly longer and/or more complex English pieces.

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Improve your Ability to Read English

Reading English confidently must be second-nature. You should therefore begin to read widely in English, a little after you first begin practising your comprehension skills with content in your mother tongue. Ensure that you practise reading across a range of different materials. We would recommend the following:

Specialised: Journal articles from English-language journals covering your own speciality or career, briefings and policy information from English-speaking hospitals and Trusts, press releases for new medications or devices, and opinion pieces that are focused specifically on your speciality or career.

Mixed: Journal articles focused on healthcare as a whole or your wider field, high-brow articles aimed at the general public that focus on healthcare (e.g. in the UK, this might be the Times, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, or Independent).

Generalised: English books, English general-interest magazines (again, those that cater for a more educated audience are sensible; consider the Atlantic, the Spectator, the New Yorker).

For more information, see our resources guide for the OET’s Reading section.

You should work to develop an ability to read and understand English across different types of content, different lengths and structures of content, and across both content that focuses on healthcare and content that is aimed at the general reader.

The goal with this diverse reading plan is to ensure that you are not surprised or ‘thrown’ by any one passage that you may encounter in the OET Reading section itself.


As your general ability to analyse written pieces improves, and your ability to do this in English improves with it, you should begin to incorporate practise tests into your schedule. We recommend that you only begin to use dedicated practise materials when you are already confident in your ability to read and assess pieces written in English – doing this will enable you to get the most out of these materials. You should use practise materials that provide clear answers in order to quickly pinpoint areas in which you are weaker or stronger.

Avoid only practising, and ceasing to read more generally – this will quickly become boring and lead to your preparation becoming one-dimensional. You should maintain a broad reading schedule alongside increasing amounts of OET-specific preparation materials. Devise a structure that works for you and allows you to feel confident.

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