Taking the Reading Test

60 minutes

About the Reading sub-test

The Reading sub-test consists of three parts and a total of 42 question items. All three parts take a total of 60 minutes to complete. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and are therefore accessible to candidates across all professions.

The Reading sub-test structure

Part A – expeditious reading task (15 minutes)

Part A assesses your ability to locate specific information from four short texts in a quick and efficient manner. The four short texts relate to a single healthcare topic, and you must answer 20 questions in the allocated time period. The 20 questions consist of matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.

Part B and Part C – careful reading tasks (45 minutes)

Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist or main point of six short texts sourced from the healthcare workplace (100-150 words each). The texts might consist of extracts from policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos. For each text, there is one three-option multiple-choice question.

Part C assesses your ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion in two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals (800 words each). For each text, you must answer eight four-option multiple choice questions.

How is reading ability assessed in OET?

Reading Part A (the expeditious reading task) tests your ability to skim and scan quickly across different texts on a given topic in order to locate specific information. For that purpose, Part A is strictly timed and you must complete all 20 question items within the allocated 15 minutes. To complete the task successfully, you will also need to understand the conventions of different medical text types and understand the presentation of numerical and textual information.

Reading Part B tests your ability to understand the detail, gist or main point of complex texts commonly found in the healthcare workplace. To complete the task successfully, you will need to identify specific ideas at sentence level.

Reading Part C tests your ability to understand the explicit or implied meaning as well as the attitude or opinion presented in a longer text. To complete the task successfully, you will need to identify the relationship between ideas at sentence and paragraph level. Part C also tests your ability to accurately understand lexical references and complex phrases within the text.

Assessors who mark the Reading sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior assessors for guidance.

Reading sub-test FAQs

How are marks for the Reading sub-test distributed?

There is a total of 42 marks available in the Reading sub-test, Part A accounts for 20 marks, Part B accounts for 6 marks and Part C accounts for 16 marks.

Where do I write my answers for the Reading sub-test?

In Part A you should write your answers clearly in the spaces given in the question booklet.

In Part B and Part C, you must shade the circle next to the appropriate answer. Answers written elsewhere in your booklet will not be marked.

It is a good idea to use the sample tests to familiarise yourself with the different task formats you might find in the test.

Do I have time to check my answers for the Reading sub-test?

You will not be given extra time at the end of the sub-test to check your answers, and it is up to you to manage your time. The test is designed so that the time available is enough for you to read, choose your answers, and check your work.

Please remember that there is a strict time limit for Part A (the expeditious reading task), and Part A materials will be collected from you after 15 minutes. You will therefore not have any time to check your Part A answers later in the test.

Do my answers have to use the same words as given in the texts?

Yes, in Part A you must use exactly the same form of the word or short phrase as given in the four texts.

Can I use abbreviations in the Reading sub-test?

Abbreviations are not accepted in the Reading sub-test unless they appear in the texts.

Do I lose marks for spelling mistakes?

Yes, you must use correct spelling in the Reading sub-test to get the marks. Responses that are not spelled correctly will not receive any marks. American and British English spelling variations are accepted, e.g., foetus and fetus are both acceptable. Please note that the Reading sub-test is different from the Listening sub-test in the way misspellings are treated.

How many questions do I need to get correct for the Reading sub-test?

New reading tests are written for each test session incorporating new material and the grade boundaries are adjusted slightly for each test to allow for minor differences in the difficulty of items included in that particular version.  The number of marks needed to secure grade B will therefore vary. However, test-takers awarded grade B (a scale score of 350) will typically have a score of at least 30 marks.

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