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Reading sub-test

The Reading sub-test consists of two parts (Part A and Part B). It’s the same for all professions. See full details of what's in the test

Preparing for the Reading sub-test
To help you prepare for the Reading sub-test, you can:

• Try a sample Reading sub-test
• Buy more Reading practice materials from the OET Bookshop
• Read widely on health-related issues in English. You may have access to journals and professional association websites with reading material relevant to your own profession. Free sources of relevant web content include:

What type of Reading skills are tested?
The types of question in Part A of the Reading sub-test allow you to demonstrate that, for example, you can:

• locate specific information in a range of short texts
• understand the relationships between different types of information
• understand the conventions of different text types
• identify underlying concepts
• draw logical inferences
• synthesise information from different sources
• differentiate main ideas from supporting information
• identify, distinguish and compare facts from a variety of text types
• understand the presentation of text and numerical data
• summarise information for a non-medical audience
• use contextual clues to determine text meaning and to supply missing information
• recognise paraphrasing
• use appropriate spelling and word forms

The types of question in Part B of the Reading sub-test allow you to demonstrate that you can:

• understand main ideas
• locate specific information
• differentiate main ideas from supporting information
• identify underlying concepts
• draw logical inferences
• understand a range of general and medical vocabulary
• work out the meaning of a word or phrase from the context it is used in
• identify the underlying theme of a paragraph or text
• recognise paraphrasing
• understand cohesion between parts of a text through lexical and grammatical cohesion devices
• follow a complicated argument that is made over several paragraphs
• distinguish between what is stated and what is not stated
• recognise the connections between ideas (e.g. causes and effect)

You need to understand how the writer constructs the text to communicate his/her message. This may involve using words and phrases e.g. to show:

• the order of events e.g. firstly, secondly; initially, subsequently, in the end
• consequences e.g. due to, therefore, as a result
• contrasting or alternative ideas e.g. however, on the other hand, despite
• the extension of an idea e.g. in addition, furthermore

The test may also involve understanding how an academic or professional text is built and holds together, e.g. using:

• text references e.g. this, the other study, as noted above
• nominalisation: choosing nouns rather than verbs or adjectives, e.g., explanation [from explain], detoxification, assessment
• complicated comparative structures e.g. The study found that women over 60 benefited from the therapy almost twice as much as those aged between 20 and 35 did.
• long noun phrases e.g. The four-year study into the uptake and continuing use of the drug-based treatment administered with appropriate medical supervision discovered that…
• groups of words with ‘shades of meaning’ e.g. states, concludes, implies, suggests, proposes, assumes, supposes, believes, considers, presumes

Taking the test: Dos and don’ts

• Do answer every question
• Don’t get stuck on one question – keep going and come back to it at the end
 Do take a sample test under test conditions beforehand so you know what it feels like
• Do bring a soft (2B) pencil
• Do record your answers accurately on the answer sheet before the 60 minutes is over
• Do follow the instructions on the answer sheet about how to fill in your answers
• Don’t give more than one answer for a question – this gets no marks

How can I help myself during the Reading sub-test?

• Have a spare pen/pencil ready just in case
• Fill in the booklet cover pages correctly
• Fill in your personal information on the answer sheets correctly
• Make sure you give your family name and candidate number correctly in letters and numbers and fill in the corresponding circles accurately

Part B

• Start by getting an overview of the two texts and the number of questions for each
• Divide the 45 minutes appropriately between the two texts and focus on one text at a time
• Read the title and the whole text through quickly at the start to get an overall sense of what it is about
• Note how the text is organised e.g., with sub-headings, including a table/diagram
 Take each question in turn and make sure you look in the right place for the answer (e.g., ‘according to paragraph 2’ means the question refers to information given in paragraph 2)
• Read each question carefully, looking out for key words, e.g., which statement is TRUE, which statement is FALSE, which of the following is NOT appropriate
• Consider the options in turn and try to explain to yourself exactly what makes each one right or wrong
• Write on the text and questions if it helps you (e.g., underlining key words and phrases) but don’t make it more difficult for you to read by adding too many marks

Checking at the end

• Make sure you have one answer marked on the answer sheet for each of the questions
• Check you have put your answer against the correct question number
 Follow the instructions on the answer sheet about changing an answer: use an eraser to delete the original answer and re-mark the new answer clearly
• Don’t make any last-minute changes unless you are sure of the answer
Don’t leave any blanks

How is the Reading sub-test assessed?

The Reading sub-test is marked by fully trained assessors who follow a detailed marking guide prepared by the test designers. This sets out which answers are given marks and how the marks are counted. Assessors use the guide to decide for each question whether you have provided enough correct information to be given the mark(s) available.
Read more about OET assessment procedures