Structure of the OET Reading Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Reading section of the OET exam is divided into two unique tasks that test a candidate's reading comprehension skills. Keep reading for more information about this part of the assessment.

OET Reading Section Structure

The Reading portion is one of four parts of the Occupational English Test. This 60-minute section is divided into two separate tasks. Though the OET features several specializations for different professions, the topics on the Reading section focus on generic healthcare information.

Part A: Summary Task

Candidates are shown three or four short passages of text that consist of around 650 words total. Candidates also encounter a paragraph that summarizes information contained in the passages, with anywhere from 25 to 35 words omitted. Using the knowledge acquired during the reading of the above passages, candidates will need to fill in the blanks.

Part A gauges a candidate's ability to quickly process information from multiple

texts and then synthesize the information. Speed is a factor, as the section only lasts 15 minutes. Successful candidates will be those who can comprehend the conventions of various medical texts and compare and contrast the principal ideas of the passages featured in the section.

Part B: Multiple-Choice Questions

Part B employs a more familiar approach. In this part, candidates are required to read two passages (each of which are between 600 and 800 words). After reading these passages, candidates will then answer between 16 and 20 total multiple-choice questions.

Part B measures a candidate's ability to stay focused when reading longer excerpts. Candidates will need to understand both explicit and implied meaning, while also making connections between ideas and recognizing the purpose of each text, in order to score well on this part of the test. This section lasts 45 minutes.


The objective nature of questions on the Reading section make it relatively easy to grade. Part A is marked manually. Examiners are trained to use a comprehensive guide that provides detailed information on what types of responses can receive credit for a correct answer. Proper spelling is essential to receiving marks for your answers. The OET accepts both American and British spellings ('color' and 'colour'), but any answers containing misspelled words will be scored as incorrect.

Responses to Part B are checked automatically via computer. To ensure accuracy, tests are double-checked.

Candidates receive a score from A (best) to E (worst) for each section, including the Reading test. A passing score on the OET is not an officially defined measure. Test administrators merely proctor the exam; passing scores are determined by professional boards and councils and vary from one profession to the next. Generally, candidates will need to get at least a B on each section in order to pass the test.

Preparing for the OET

If the OET is on your calendar, you may want to take a look at the various resources available on

This OET Study Guide & Practice course offers a thorough review of both the Speaking section and the other three sections of the exam through interactive learning tools, such as short video lessons and quizzes to help keep your studying on track.

You can also make use of this English Grammar Rules course, which provides a review of important grammatical concepts that are essential to proper communication. The course covers topics like word usage and sentence structure and is a great way to get ready for the OET.

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