How to improve reading scores in OET? It is a question that pops up in the mind of every test taker. The best and apt way to improve reading score is to understand the test completely. It means to understand the aim and purpose of the questions in the reading test. Once the candidate is aware of it, she/he is able to look into the main areas of preparation required to take this language examination. As the first step let us look into the four main areas of preparation required to pass the OET Reading Subtest.
A) Familiarity with test structure:
This area involves knowledge of what the test will involve, so that you know what to expect on test day. The Reading Sub-test has three parts to be completed in 60 minutes: Part A, Part B and Part C. Questions will test a broader range of reading skills, such as reading for General ideas (the “gist” of a text), opinion and attitude. The structure of each part of the updated Reading Sub-test is outlined below.
Part A requires candidates to skim and scan 4 short, health-related texts (labelled A, B, C and D) and answer 20 questions relating to the texts. The texts use a vocabulary and structure that can be understood by all health professions. At least one of the texts contains visual or numerical information (e.g. a graph, table or flow chart). The candidate has to complete all of the questions in the part A within a 15 minute time limit.
Part B consists of 6 short texts (with a word length of 100-150 words each). For each text, there is one multiple choice question.
Part C requires candidates to read 2 longer, health-related texts and answer 16 multiple choice questions based on the content of these texts. This part of the Reading Sub-test tests a candidate’s ability to Understand comprehensive texts, Infer meaning, and Identify points of view.
Each question will have 4 possible answers to choose from (A, B, C or D). You must select only one answer. Incorrect answers receive zero marks, but marks aren’t taken away for them.
B) Vocabulary building:
One of the most helpful things you can do to improve your performance in the Reading Sub-test is to build up your vocabulary (including synonyms). This will make it easier for you to recognize and understand what you heard and read. You will then be able to answer questions about the texts in the test more accurately.
Choose a medical article that sounds interesting to you. While reading this article, underline unfamiliar words and guess their meaning. Keep reading. At the end of it, go back and look up the words you underlined in a dictionary. Revise your vocabulary list at the end of each week. You can test yourself
by covering up the meanings of the words and trying to guess them. Alternatively, cover up the words themselves and try to remember the word based on the meaning.
C) Test – Taking Skills:
Skimming (reading just the main words of a text)
You need to pick a text with a mixture of written information and pictures, figures or graphs. Read through the text, paying attention only to the main words in each sentence, ignoring small words like “and” or “the”. Then you can also look at headings, subheadings and images. Write down a few dot points of the main points you picked up from skimming the text. Do this regularly – it is a skill that you develop with practice.
Scanning (looking for particular information in a text)
Again, pick a text. Read the first 1-2 sentences of the text and underline 2 or 3 key words. Keeping these 2 or 3 keywords in mind, look at the rest of the text and try to find any other places in which they are used. If you don’t succeed, read the text more slowly to make sure you haven’t missed them. If the key words you chose don’t appear again in the text, select different key words and do this step again. You may also practice doing the same exercise, but with numbers instead of key words.
D) Practice Tests Preparation:
You have to make sure to complete as much practice tests as possible. You must do it with strict time management would be vital to improve your reading scores.
- Based on the key words in the question, go to the relevant part of the Text. In many cases, you will be told which paragraph to go to in the first question, so the paragraph number will be one of your key words.
- Scan the relevant section of the Text for any of the key words you find in the first question. This will lead you to the part of the text that contains the relevant information for that question.
- Once you have found the relevant section of the Text, check each answer option according to the information in the text. Do not simply select the first answer you see that looks correct – there may be a better answer further down the list of options.