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OET Reading part B contains six short texts usually taken from one of the following sources:

  • Notices
    • Short, official missives that might be seen on pin-up boards and on the walls of clinics, hospital wards and other medical environments.
  • Emails
    • More than just a modern form of an old-fashioned letter, emails are ubiquitous. Nowadays, it is rare to find an adult human whose inbox is not overburdened with emails of varying importance. Emails may be sent out to an individual or group as a means of communicating, eliciting or sharing information.
  • Manuals
    • The equivalent of the infamous ‘book of words’ that comes with every electronic device that very few consumers actually read but applied to items that have relevance to a medical professional.
  • Memos
    • Different to emails, memos are despatched across a department or organization-wide to inform or update the reader as to new methods, practices or procedures.
  • Guidelines
    • This might take the form of an explanation of a procedure (e.g.: when and how to remove an IV) or a description of best practice.

What type of questions are there in the OET Reading Part B? 

When you are reading each of the short texts, you should be aware that you are reading one of three things:

  • Gist 
    • Reading for gist is when you try to understand what is written even if you can’t understand every phrase or sentence. Your aim is to try to pick out keywords and other clues to help you to have a guess at the meaning.
  • Main points
    • Even in a short text, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. This means that, on test day, you end up getting so involved in the details of the text that you either get confused or forget to pay attention to the most important parts of the passage. Focus instead on key words and concepts such as proper nouns, numbers or unusual vocabulary.
  • Detailed meaning
    • Reading for detailed meaning is very different from reading for gist or scanning. In the first and second instance, you’re expected to skim the text to get an idea of what it’s about overall or scan for a specific piece of information (such as a number or name). Reading for detailed meaning is an active process, whereby you thoughtfully and deliberately read to enhance your comprehension of the text.

Scoring for OET Reading Part B

Of all the reading subtests in the OET, section B has the ‘least’ weight. Think about it: part A has a monstrous 20 questions that need answering in 15 minutes, while part C has 16 questions to answer in 30-35 minutes. In contrast, part B consists of only 6 short texts with one question each.

Read: What are the differences

between OET Reading Part A, B and C

Speaking anecdotally, Reading Part B is a subtest that seems to cause the fewest sleepless nights for OET candidates. This might be because the stakes are relatively low, and it has the gentlest format. Digesting six short texts in 10 minutes (or less if possible!) has its attractions. Indeed, the quicker you can knock Reading Part B on the head and move on to the extensive task in Reading Part C the better.

Tips and Tricks for OET Reading Part B

Our tried-and-tested four-step method for handling Reading Part B asks you to spend a total of around 1.5 to 2 minutes on each question.

  1. You must start by reading the question and the text. This takes less than 60 seconds. It may seem like an obvious place to begin, but discipline is everything on test day. Getting things backward (i.e.: starting by reading the answer options) is inadvisable since it only serves as a distraction.
  2. Then, have a read of the three answer options. This should take no more than 15 seconds.
  3. Next, as you do in any multiple-choice test, you must eliminate answer options. Take no more than 30 seconds when you’re doing this.
  4. Finally, you’ve got to choose the correct answer as the clock runs down the final 10 seconds and you move on to the next question. 

Hopefully, you’re confident on what to expect when you take on OET Reading Part B! Now it’s time to practice, hone your skills and get the OET score that you need. Sign up to E2Language and get access to hundreds of practice questions, expert advice and get on the path to OET success today!

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