OET Reading Strategies and Preparation

OET Reading Strategies and Preparation

OET Reading Strategies and Preparation

OET Reading Strategies and Preparation
OET Reading Strategies and Preparation

In this article, OET2 will mention different OET reading test strategies and preparation plans to get band B+.

OET 2.0 Reading test strategies and preparation

1. OET Reading Part A

* Strategy

Part A of the Reading Sub-test is probably the one part of the OET where having a good strategy is most helpful, since you only have 15 minutes to find the answers.

The following approach has helped many candidates maximize their marks despite the time constraints:

For the 1st set (e.g. Questions 1-7):
  1. Read the heading of each text, and underline or circle the key words (these are the words that carry the main meaning of the heading).
  2. Read the first question, paying attention to the key words.
  3. Based on the key words in the first question, select the most relevant text. If you’re not sure which text the question is referring to, try the next question! It might be more obvious.
For the remaining 2-3 sets:
  1. Read each question, paying attention to the key words.
  2. Based on the key words in the question, select the most relevant text.
  3. Scan the relevant text for more of the key words you found in the question. This will lead you to the part of the text that contains the required information.

Most importantly of all, if you get stuck – move on! You only have 15 minutes, and there might be answers you can find further along in the set.


1. Expose Yourself to Similar Texts

Since Part A is focussed on candidates’ ability to find specific information within texts, it is important to practice reading detailed texts, as well as skimming and scanning.

The texts are all ones that can be found in the healthcare workplace, so candidates with work experience may find this part of the test easier. Candidates who don’t currently work in a healthcare setting (or those who do, but want to expose themselves to a wide variety of relevant texts) should use the Internet to find the text types listed in Part 1 of this book.

2. Practice Skimming and Scanning

Part A is also designed to simulate situations in the healthcare setting, where you will be required to read and understand written information without having time to read the whole text in detail.

To help you prepare for this, you should work on your ability to read information quickly and accurately. Skimming and scanning are two essential skills that you can practice by doing the following:

a. Skimming (reading just the main words of a text)

  • Pick a text with a mixture of written information and pictures, figures or graphs.
  • Read through the text, paying attention only to the main words in each sentence, ignoring small words like “and” or “the”. Look at headings, subheadings and images.
  • Write down a few dot points of the main points you picked up from skimming the text.
  • Do this regularly – it is a skill that you develop with practice.

b. Scanning (looking for particular information in a text)

  • Again, pick a text.
  • Read the first 1-2 sentences of the text and underline 2 or 3 key words.
  • Keeping these 2 or 3 keywords in mind, look at the rest of the text and try to find any other places in which they are used. If you don’t succeed, read the text more slowly to make sure you haven’t missed them. If the key words you chose don’t appear again in the text, select different key words and do this step again.
  • Practice doing the same exercise, but with numbers instead of key words.

2. OET Reading Strategies Part b 

* Strategy

In order to answer the multiple-choice questions in Part B as accurately as possible, follow the approach below:

  1. Read the question for Text 1 and underline or circle the key words.
  2. Read answer option A and underline or circle the key words.
  3. Scan through the text, looking for the key words in the question and answer option A. Underline or circle pieces of information that support this answer.
  4. Read the second answer option and underline or circle the key words.
  5. Scan through the text, looking for the key words in answer option B.
    Underline or circle pieces of information that support this answer.
  6. Repeat this for answer option C.
  7. Select the answer that has the most supporting information throughout the text.

If you are not sure which part of the text to go to for a question, use the following strategies:

  1. Remember that the questions move through the text in order. Therefore, if you used the third paragraph to find the answer for the last question, you will probably need to use the fourth paragraph next.
  2. Circle or underline the keywords in the question (or the first answer option, if the question stem is very short). Then, read the first sentence ONLY of each paragraph and look for similar words. This can give you clues about which paragraph is relevant to that question.


1. Expose Yourself to Similar Texts

Practice reading the types of texts mentioned in this post, namely:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Staff updates or announcements

These can easily be accessed by searching the Internet, or by requesting copies from your actual workplace.

2. Expand Your Vocabulary

Obviously, the more words you understand within a text, the more likely you are to answer questions about it correctly.

Since the OET is a test of English, it makes sense to increase your English vocabulary in preparation for the test.

3. Improve Your Tolerance of Ambiguity

To answer the questions in Part B correctly, you will need to be able to understand the general idea or main points of a text without necessarily understanding all the words within it. The more ready you are to accept this, the less likely you will be to spend too much time on each text.

You can to help yourself to be more comfortable with not understanding all of the words in a text by:

  • Obtaining a text sample (such as those mentioned above, but other types of texts can be used effectively as well)
  • Skim one paragraph or section of text (about 100-150 words)
  • Write down 1 or 2 main points that the author has made in the paragraph or section. Avoid writing down specific details.

The more you do this exercise, the more effectively you will be able to tackle Part B.


3. OET Reading Strategies Part C

* Part C Reading Strategy

The best strategy to use for Part C is similar to that for Part B:

Read the first question of Text 1 and underline or circle the key words.

  1. Based on the key words in the question, go to the relevant part of the Text. In many cases, you will be told which paragraph to go to in the first question, so the paragraph number will be one of your key words.
  2. Scan the relevant section of the Text for any of the key words you found in the first question. This will lead you to the part of the text that contains the relevant information for that question.
  3. Once you have found the relevant section of the Text, check each answer option according to the information in the text. Do not simply select the first answer you see that looks correct – there may be a better answer further down the list of options.

Since there are 2 texts to read and answer questions, it is recommended that you divide up your time to manage it effectively:

  • Spend no more than about 15 minutes answering questions about Text 1.
    After 15 minutes, move on to Text 2. There may be easier questions further along that you won’t have a chance to answer if you spend all your time on Text 1.
  • Spend no more than 15 minutes answering questions about Text 2.
  • Aim to finish Parts B and C with at least 5 minutes to spare. This is for checking your answers and returning to questions that you didn’t have time to complete.


1. Expand Your Vocabulary

Since the focus of Part C is language comprehension (understanding), it is again very important to increase your English vocabulary before the test.

2. Practice Reading for Opinions/Attitudes

There is a strong focus in Part C on testing whether candidates can accurately identify the opinions or attitudes of the author, as well as other people mentioned in each text.

Therefore, when you are doing a practice test or reading any other text for study purposes, you should write down at least 1-5 points about the opinions or attitudes expressed in the text. The exact number of points you write down will depend on the length and content of the text.

Remember that not all opinions or attitudes are stated explicitly. Implicit information is either unstated, or expressed indirectly.

To practice identifying an implicit point in a passage of text, you can use the following method:

  1. Read the passage of text
  2. Ask yourself: “What do each of the details of the passage have in common?”
  3. In your own words, find the common theme among all the details of the passage and the author’s point about this theme.
  4. Write a short sentence stating the theme and what the author says about it.

The following passage from demonstrates an example of this process:

“When you’re with your friends, it’s okay to be loud and use slang. They’ll expect it and they aren’t grading you on your grammar. When you’re standing in a boardroom or sitting for an interview, you should use your best English possible, and keep your tone suitable to the working environment. Try to gauge the personality of the interviewer and the setting of the workplace before cracking jokes or speaking out of turn. If you’re ever in a position to speak publicly, always ask about your audience, and modify your language, tone, pitch and topic based on what you think the audience’s preferences would be. You’d never give a lecture about atoms to children!

What do the details in the passage have in common?

In this case, the author is writing about hanging out with friends, going on an interview, and speaking publicly, which, at first glance, don’t seem to relate to each other that much.

If you find a common theme among all them, though, you’ll see that the author is giving you different situations and then telling us to speak differently in each setting (use slang with friends, be respectful and quiet in an interview, modify your tone publicly).

The common theme is speaking situations, and the author’s opinion about it is “different situations require different ways of speaking”. Therefore, the implicit point is: “different situations require different ways of speaking”.

3. Improve Your Grammar

Studying English grammar will help you to accurately answer the two lexical reference questions for each text in Part C.

It is also important to be able to use English correctly to perform well in the other Sub tests of the OET.

This part of preparation is especially important for candidates who have not formally studied English before, or not for a long time (e.g. studied some English in school but not since).


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