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...BlogsOET Reading: Answers to questions that will help you improve your score in Reading Part A
OET Reading: Answers to questions that will help you improve your score in Reading Part A

This article is an addition to the most common mistakes and useful tips for improving your score in Reading Part A. Here we address the most frequently asked questions about Reading Part A to help you improve your score.


Can I repeat the words from the question?

No. You should not repeat words from the question.  If you do this, you are likely to lose the mark. For example, in a gap-fill question like this:

‘Children may be given up to _________ mg of codeine per kilo of weight’ – DO NOT include mg per kilo in your answer.

What if the question starts like this?

Which type of factor has caused the biggest increase in childhood asthma?

If your answer to the question above is ‘environmental factor’, this will score you 0 because the word factor is already in the question. Conciseness and precision are valued skills in the healthcare workplace and in Part A, OET is replicating the need for these skills by only asking you to provide the word or phrase that answers the question, in this case ‘environmental’


Can I still get a mark if I only write the number, and not the measurement?

If the question asks for the number and the measurement, you should include both to write the answer accurately.  For example: If the question is ‘What is the lowest dose of ibuprofen per kilo recommended to children?’  You must include the unit of measurement in your answer.  (2.5 mg). If you omit mg, your answer will not make sense and you will score 0.

Here’s another example:

“Before attaching a fluid resuscitation drip to a 9-year-old burns patient, what percentage of the body needs to be affected?”

In the example above, you must include the unit of measurement %, which stands for percent (not percentage) because without it, the answer doesn’t make sense. You cannot say 10 percentage, the answer is 10 per cent i.e., 10%.


How can I practice reading questions quickly and effectively?

Start by giving yourself more than 15 minutes to develop accuracy in your answers. Once you have improved your ability to skim and scan texts with more accuracy, then start reducing the time frame gradually down to 15 minutes in more typical exam time conditions. This will help to build your confidence and avoid making mistakes under pressure.


Can I paraphrase instead of using the same words from the text?

No. You must use the same form of the word or short phrase as given in the texts.


Can I use abbreviations in my answer?

Avoid using abbreviations and/or acronyms unless they already appear in the text. If you change your response to the question, you are not demonstrating your skill of accurately identifying the exact information in the text.


Do I lose marks for spelling mistakes?

You must use correct spelling in the Reading sub-test to get the mark.  Responses that are not spelled correctly will not receive any marks.


Can I use American spelling if the texts use British English?

Reading Part A texts are written in British English format. Your answers should copy the spelling directly from the text. However, if you use American English spelling, it will be accepted.


Does my punctuation matter when recording numerical answers?

Yes, it does. In English-speaking workplaces, numerical information is separated by a decimal point (.) not by a comma (,). Commas are used in some other languages for this purpose but not in English. In the text, decimal points (.) will always be used for numerical data so you only need to copy it directly from the text to the answer line e.g. 2.5 mg (correct) 2,5 mg (incorrect). 


Can I score half a mark if I get most of the question correct?

There are no half marks given in any of the OET tests. You will either score 1 mark or 0.


What do I do I can’t fit all my answer on the line provided? 

You must write all the word or words in the space provided, there will be enough space on the line itself and below for your words to fit.  If you use up the line, finish your answer just below it. Do not continue writing over on to another page. Practice before your test using official sample tests and, if necessary, try to modify the size of your writing to fit the gap.


In the short answer and gap fill questions, can I write the Text letter (A, B, C  D) next to my written answer to show where I found the answer? I.e., ‘Naproxen 250 mg (Text B)

Don’t include the letter of the text where you found the answer. This is unnecessary and may be seen as ambiguous. It will score you 0 marks for this answer.


Practise with sample tests from the OET Reading Sample Tests page.