OET Reading

Overcoming the Fear of OET Reading Passages – Part 2

My previous blog post (Overcoming the Fear of OET Reading Passages – Part 1) outlined some key techniques you can use to tackle Part B of the OET reading component. In this post, I will further discuss techniques about how to approach the comprehension that I hope you will find useful in your preparation.


#1 Eliminate answers

It is often very hard to see the answer straightaway as there may be several similar answers. However, to make things easier, you should start by eliminating the options which are blatantly incorrect. This narrows down the amount of options to choose from, giving you a higher chance of choosing the correct option.


#2 Familiarise yourself with statistical conversions

If the questions include statistics, you should be very careful in interpreting and matching it to the data presented in the text. They may further trick you by changing the statistics a little – for instance, you should know that “1 in 5” is the same as “20%”. You should also take note that if it says “43 per thousand of the population” this equates to approximately “4 – 5% of the population” (do the maths!).


#3 Options that are too ‘certain’ are often incorrect

In medicine, there is a lot of uncertainty and rarely are things absolutely definitive. For this reason, if a multiple choice option uses words such as “strongly associated” or “directly related” or “definitely” or any other ‘definitive’ words … it is usually wrong! It is ONLY correct if the statement is exactly stated in the text.


Comprehension can certainly be very difficult but with the right strategy and ongoing practice of some key techniques, OET reading can hopefully seem more like a friend than a foe.


All the best!

What to initially read in reading part A.

For reading part A, because you really don’t have much time to waste in 15 minutes, I would advise you to read only a few select things first before attempting to answer the gap fills.

Firstly, read the text stimulus headings, taking note of the key words and what aspect of the overall topic it is covering. For instance, if the entire topic is on vasectomy, then text A may be on the associated risks of prostate cancer in those who have undergone vasectomy, text B may be on the incidence of vasectomy over age and years, text C on the complications of vasectomy and it’s reversibility, text D on the reversibility of vasectomy. By noting this, when in the question it mentions vasectomy reversal, you can be aware to refer to either text C or D for the answer.

Furthermore, as the question passage is of a reporting form, it will often refer to the sources from which it is drawing information from before going onto speak about its content. Therefore, these will be cues for you to know which text to locate your answer. It is important to take note not only of the headings but also what text type it is. For example, is it a study, a research abstract, a literature review, a case study, a statistic, a newspaper journal, a report, a Q&A patient brochure etc? So in the question sheet it might say “according to a case study performed…” and if you had noted that text B was a case study then you can refer to that text to scan for the answer.

I think you get the idea so I will list the features to look out for before you begin attempting to answer the questions from Part A reading.

  1. Heading: and key words/topics in that heading/subheading (n.b. subheadings can be the questions in a Q&A, the aims of a research abstract)
  2. Text type: study, report, experiment, survey, statistic, case study, literature review
  3. Authors: e.g. Wilson et al.
  4. Year of publication: e.g. the 2008 study.
  5. Place/country/name of publication/study: e.g US study, Canadian report, the Age newspaper.

After having glanced for this information, which should only take you a few seconds, then you go on to attempt the questions.


Good luck.

Overcoming the Fear of OET Reading Passages – Part 1

Comprehension can be challenging because, apart from assessing your English vocabulary skills, it is a test of your understanding and interpretation of extensive passages in English.

This sparks cries of fear from OET students.

Although you have 45 minutes to tackle 20 questions from two texts in the OET, you need to have some good techniques under your belt to help you overcome your fear of the reading passages.

#1 Start with the questions

You should start with the questions to give you an indication of which paragraph to read. This is because, if you read the entire passage, you will probably not recall all the finer details anyway and will waste time reading over it again.

#2 Circle conjunctions that link ideas together

As you read the appropriate paragraph of the passage, circle words like ‘but’ or ‘however’ or ‘in contrast’ which show two contrasting ideas. Or perhaps phrases like ‘in addition’ or ‘furthermore’ that show similar ideas. Or, if any, try to spot ‘which causes’ or ‘leading to’ which show a cause and effect relationship!

#3 RTFQ = Read The Full Question!

Once you have a good understanding of the relevant paragraphs, return to the question and read all the options carefully. This is because often there is simply one word that can affect whether the answer is right or wrong.

By coupling these simple techniques with constant reading of medical passages to build your vocabulary, you can surely gradually overcome your fear of OET reading.

– Carol Luo

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