OET Reading Section: Essential Resources Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

In order to succeed in the OET Reading Section, you must be comfortable with reading a variety of content in English. Different sections will require different abilities, and in turn different types of preparation material. This list is not exhaustive, but should help you to target your learning and reading efficiently.

Section A principally focuses on common diseases and their treatment. Particular content will involve treatment paths or algorithms, diagnostic tools and aids, information around specific medication, and information on specific devices.

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Our OET Pharmacy Question bank features questions from UK doctors and pharmacists, with tutorials and tips.

We recommend the following resources specifically for section A:

NICE CKS: The NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries are accessible summaries of current evidence bases aimed at primary care practitioners (GPs) in the UK. You may need to use a VPN to access the resources.

Guidelines UK: Like NICE CKS, this site provides clear summaries of best practice for UK primary care practitioners. Unlike NICE CKS, it does not require a VPN to access from abroad. The summaries for each condition are concise and similar to information found in the OET Section A.

Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines: This site allows you to search for handbooks and guidelines made by the Australian government and its health service. It is another reliable source of clinical information in English.

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Section B involves a range of different content types, all of which can be routinely found in a healthcare role. These might be updates, emails, memos, or guidelines and policies. You would therefore do well to use the above resources for Section B as well. Additionally, the following are of use:

NICE Newsletters & Alerts: This site features a roundup of recent updates in the healthcare world. You might also find it useful to subscribe to NICE Updates, which will provide guidance across the medical fields, including on COVID-19, as well as information on case studies, meetings and events, and advice on implementing policy. You may need to use a VPN to access these sites.

Patient.info provides a range of materials that is relevant to both Section A and Section B. You can find summaries of conditions (aimed at both medical professionals and lay people) which are useful for Section A, as well as updates, guides to assessment tools, and further professional resources that are of use for Section B.

Different NHS Trusts in the UK will have their own sets of policy, and of course different methods of announcing new policies / guidelines / providing memos etc. NHS Lothian’s Policy Online site is a particularly useful one, that allows you to search through a range of memos and guidelines from a host of different departments. You can search through different NHS sites by looking at different trusts, or simply searching the internet for different hospitals’ policies. Another good example is the Thames Valley’s Health Education England South East site, which features a range of professional information on topics like revalidation, returning to work, recruitment, professional support, etc.

Section C involves longer pieces with a particular opinion or argument. We recommend using both more specialist and more generalist content in order to practice for this section. Try to read journals that are specific to your profession or medical field in English. Beyond that starting point, the following are good resources:

The BMJ: an obvious choice and one that you are no doubt aware of. We recommend reading the BMJ, as well as other leading English-language journals like The Lancet.

You should read health-specific content from BBC Health, which will provide you with a more general viewpoint than medical journals. Other sites like The Guardian Health and Wired Health can also provide more ‘general interest’ healthcare pieces. Avoid sites that are more sensationalist or perhaps aimed at a less-educated reader. 

Ensure that you practice reading arguments and essays in English in general – rather than focusing solely on health. For this, we recommend reading ‘broadsheet’ newspapers. In the UK, these would be the Times, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, or Independent. Each has a different political standpoint, but all are respected and will allow you to gain confidence in reading complex English. For briefer reads that will nonetheless allow you to practice your English, the BBC News website is a good choice.

You should also focus on general-interest magazines. Particularly notable examples might include The New Yorker or The Atlantic.

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