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OET Reading: Seven tips to improve your score

a medical student is starting at his computer screen

How to improve your score in OET Reading 

There are three parts in the OET Reading sub-test, and each one is testing you on different skills you will use in your work as a healthcare professional. This means that to be successful in the Reading sub-test, you need to make sure you are using the best skill for the questions in each part. If you are currently trying to improve your Reading score and feeling like you’re not making much progress, it could be because you are approaching the three parts using the same reading skill. Changing your approach could be the easiest way to increase your score. 


Improve your score in Reading Part A 

Part A is testing you on your ability to quickly synthesise information from four texts to find specific details that might be of use when treating a patient for a particular condition. The exact word or phrase that answers each question can be copied directly from one of the texts, but this means you need to be accurate when you record your answers.

These two sides to the test act like push and pull forces during the 15 minutes available to you. After reading the question, it can be relatively simple to locate the answer in the text (push) but to get the answer correct, you need to slow down and record the answer accurately and legibly (pull). Every candidate is likely to lose at least one mark and some candidates lose many marks because their answers are illegible or have not been copied accurately. Avoid mistakes with these tips:  


  • Tip 1: If you are trying to improve your Reading score, this is the first and easiest thing you should work on: ensuring you are not wasting any valuable marks through illegibility or spelling inaccuracy. 


Key words in the question will guide you to the correct part of the text containing the answer, so careful reading of the question and then scanning to find the same key word or synonym of the key word is a good strategy to use. You only need to write the word or short phrase that answers the question so be careful not to include too much detail or words (or synonyms of words) that are part of the question. This will score you zero. 


  • Tip 2: Use official OET sample tests which come with an answer key, and be strict with yourself when checking your answers. If you have included unnecessary words or repeated a word from the question, score yourself zero, and make this something to pay more attention to for the next sample test you try.  


For further tips, read the OET Reading Part A - Complete Guide 


Improve your score in Reading Part B 

Part B is testing you on your ability to understand the main points of short texts that you would commonly read in relation to your work. This means gaining an overall understanding of the text’s contents to be able to select the best option that answers the question. This last point is particularly important as the other options will also be covered to some extent in the text to act as distractors. It’s important that you ensure the final choice you make answers the set question. Improve your Part B score with these tips:


  • Tip 3: Read the sentence you think contains the answer more than once to check that it completely matches the answer option you are selecting. 


If you are struggling to improve your Reading score, it could be that you are applying a Part A strategy (e.g., matching key words from the question with key words or synonyms in the text) to Part B questions. Answer options that seem to fit with this strategy are often distractors. On closer reading, you will notice that the text doesn’t totally match the answer option. You are possibly most familiar with Part B texts, and this can lead also lead you to being influenced by prior experience or knowledge when choosing an answer.  


  • Tip 4: You are not required to draw on any external knowledge of the topic. The correct answer is found in the text and will completely evidence the whole option. 


For further tips, read the OET Reading Part A - Complete Guide 


Improve your score in Reading Part C 

Part C is testing you on your ability to understand the writer’s opinion or attitude in a longer text that may cover a range of arguments and points of view on a general healthcare topic of interest to professionals. Writers do not always give their opinions obviously but instead try to persuade the reader towards their way of thinking using their choice of language (adjectives, adverbs etc.). Use these tips to boost your Part C scores:


  • Tip 5: For questions asking you about the point the writer is making or trying to highlight, isolate the adjectives and adverbs in the section of text containing the answer. What do they tell you about the writer’s attitude? Are they positive, negative or neutral towards the idea? Be careful about what the writer is presenting as their own opinion and opinions they are presenting from other experts or related individuals. 


In Reading Part C, one of the questions about each text may be a reference question. These test your understanding of how words such as ‘this’ or ‘it’ are used in specific sentences. Once you understand how these words are used in texts (to avoid repetition of the main noun in the previous sentence), they can be quite straightforward questions to answer. 


  • Tip 6: To be confident you have chosen the correct answer option, try replacing your answer with the underlined word in the question. If the sentence still makes sense then you are likely to be correct. 


If you are struggling to improve your Reading skill, it could be because you are less familiar with reading this kind of text or when you are reading this type of text, you are not thinking critically about the meaning of what the writer is presenting. 


  • Tip 7: Analyse why you are finding this kind of reading difficult. Is it vocabulary, your reading speed, concentration, lack of interest in the topic etc.? Once you can isolate the problem, you can start working to fix it. 


For more tips, read the OET Reading Part C - Complete Guide