The Reading sub-test consists of two parts and takes 60 minutes to complete. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and are therefore accessible to candidates across all professions.

The Reading sub-test structure

Part A – summary task (15 minutes)

Part A assesses your ability to source information from multiple texts, to synthesise information in a meaningful way and to ‘skim’ and ‘scan’ material to retrieve information quickly. You are required to read 3-4 short texts (a total of approximately 650 words) related to a single topic, and complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words (25-35 gaps in total).

Part B – multiple-choice questions (45 minutes)

Part B assesses your ability to read and understand comprehensive texts on health-related topics similar to those in academic or professional journals. You are required to read two passages (600-800 words each) and answer a set of multiple-choice questions (16-20 in total).

How is reading ability assessed in OET?

Reading Part A (the summary task) tests your ability to skim and scan quickly across different texts on a given topic in order to identify and synthesise selected information. For that purpose, Part A is strictly timed and you must complete all the items within 15 minutes. To complete the task successfully, you will also need the ability to understand the conventions of different medical text types, differentiate main ideas from supporting information, and understand the presentation of numerical and textual data.

Reading Part B tests your ability to understand longer passages of text at the level of word/phrase, explicit meaning, and implied meaning. To complete the task successfully, you will also need the ability to identify the purpose of a text, to understand the relationships between ideas, and to understand at the level of the paragraph as well as the sentence.

Assessors who mark the Reading sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior Assessors for guidance. Candidates with scores that are near the borderline automatically have their papers double-marked to ensure fairness and consistency.