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An overview

Reading Part B is the first part in the OET Reading sub-test that requires a deeper understanding of what a text is trying to communicate.  In this post we will take a look at what Reading Part B contains and what it requires of you.

What does Reading Part B consist of?

Reading Part B is made up of 6 short texts of approximately 100-150 words each.  The texts are not related to each other and will cover several different topics related to healthcare.  For each text, you must answer one 3-option multiple choice question (i.e. choose between option A, B, or C).

How long do I get to do Reading Part B?

You get a total of 45 minutes to complete Reading Parts B and C.  This means you have to manage your time very carefully.  As Reading Part C is longer and slightly more complex, spending too much time on Reading Part B means that you might run out of time to complete Reading Part C.  We suggest spending about 10-12 minutes on Reading Part B, i.e. no more than 2 minutes per text/question.

Note: Remember Reading Part A is separate to Reading Parts B and C

What skills is Reading Part B testing?

Reading Part B requires you to identify and understand the purpose, gist, main point, or a particular detail of a short text.  This will depend on the focus of each question, which you will need to identify before reading the text. This means Reading Part B requires deeper reading and comprehension of the text to be able to select the correct answer.

What text types will I get in Reading Part B?

The texts you will see in Reading Part B are texts you might see in and around your workplace.  However, unlike Reading Part A, these do not include texts you would be expected to read with a patient present.  Rather, they are texts you might come across in the staffroom or in other places where important information is communicated to the staff of a healthcare facility.  Some text types you might see in Reading Part B include excerpts from policy documents, guidelines, or instruction manuals, memos or emails, and staff update notices.

What types of questions will I see in Reading Part B?

As I previously mentioned, the questions will focus on either purpose, gist, the main point, or a particular detail of the text.  All the questions are multiple-choice, but there are two different ways that the questions themselves might be phrased. Take a look at the two different question types below:

  1. The guidelines about syringe disposal state that
  1. What does the extract from the manual tell us about using the ultrasound machine?

You will note that example 1 is phrased as sentence completion, while example 2 is a direct question.  These are the two different ways a question might be phrased in Reading Part B.

A few tips for success 

Don’t be deceived by Reading Part B – it can be a lot trickier than it looks if you don’t understand the question focus. Looking at the answer options can also cause you to make a decision too early without fully understanding the text.  That’s why it’s best to read the question and then read the text, ignoring the answer options. Choose your answer once you have fully understood the relationship between the text and the question.

To get more personalized feedback about what you need for success in the OET Reading sub-test, sign up to E2Language and let our expert tutors give you some more tips in our 1-on-1 tutorials.  You can also get some great practice and in-depth strategy explanations with authentic task examples in our fun and interactive live classes.

Read about the differences between Reading Parts A, B, and C here and get some tips for practicing OET reading in your daily life here.


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