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OET Reading Part A is a quick, yet challenging part of the OET Reading sub-test.  This post is an overview of what is involved in this part of the test and some tips to get you started.

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What does Reading Part A consist of?

Reading Part A is a skim and scan reading test in which you are given 4 short texts which are all related to the same healthcare topic.  You are required to answer 20 short questions based on the information in these texts.  

The text and answer booklets for Part A are separate to the question paper for Reading Parts B and C. You will only be provided with the question paper for Reading Parts B and C once Reading Part A is over.  

However, like Reading Parts B and C and the Listening sub-test, Reading Part A is not specific to your profession, so you get the same texts whether you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, physio etc.

How long do I get to do Reading Part A?

You only get 15 minutes to do this part of the test, after which the question paper and answer booklet will be collected from you. Once those 15 minutes are up, you will not have access to the Reading Part A materials again.  The short time that you get to do the test is what many candidates find challenging, but there is a reason for it…

What skills is OET Reading Part A testing?

Reading Part A is testing your ability to find pertinent information quickly and efficiently by using the “skim and scan” reading technique.  You are NOT being tested on a deep understanding of the texts, nor do you have the time to read every word. The purpose of this task is related to the types of texts you get in Reading Part A…

What text types will I get in OET Reading Part A?

The texts you will see in Reading Part A are the kinds of texts you might be expected to read while you are with a patient.  These include texts like diagnosis tools or information regarding medication or possible treatments.  They might be in the form of tables, lists, charts, or other short text types. When you are with a patient, you need to be able to quickly extract the required information from texts, which is why OET Reading Part A is in this format.

What question types will I get in OET Reading Part A?

There are three types of questions in Reading Part A.  You must write all your answers on the question paper.

Questions 1-7 are matching questions.  This section begins with the phrase “In which text can you find information about” and then lists seven questions which might look something like this:

  1. how to check for signs of a concussion?

You must identify which text contains that information (i.e. the text which tells you how to check for signs of a concussion) and write the letter (A, B, C, or D) which corresponds to the correct text.

Questions 8-14 are a little trickier.  They might look something like this:

8. What is the first step that should be taken if a concussion is suspected?

The answers to these questions require a word or short phrase taken directly from the text.  You must first find which text contains this information and write the answer to the question without changing the words used in the text.

Questions 15-20 are gap-fill questions that might look something like this:

15.  Treating concussions requires a ______________ approach.


In these questions, you are provided with a sentence that contains information from one of the texts, but in which the information has been paraphrased. Your job is to fill in the gap in the sentence with a word or short phrase taken directly from the appropriate text. 


And lastly, a few tips…

  1. Start by skim reading the texts so you can understand the general meaning/topic of each text.  But do this very quickly! You cannot afford to spend more than a minute or two on this, and you can’t get caught up in deep reading.  
  2. Practice skim and scan reading with other texts you come across in your daily life, making sure your eye is trained to pick out keywords and other features that might stand out, such as acronyms (e.g. MRI). 
  3. Spelling is very important in Reading Part A.  Copy the words and short phrases accurately from the text, or you won’t get the mark for that question!

Reading Part A can be tricky and the pressure is high, especially under test conditions.  Sign up to E2Language and let our expert tutors give you some more tips in our 1-on-1 tutorials and get some great practice in our daily live classes.  You can also find information about the differences between OET Reading Parts A, B, and C here.

https://blog.e2language.com/oet-writing-criteria-update/
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