How do I prepare for it?
Can you give me some hints?
How can I improve my score?
I have put up some suggestions on the facebook page (OET Preparation Hints), but I think it may help to make this blog post exclusively about the Reading sub-test.
The first thing to remember is that the Reading sub-test is about understanding medical texts, but also about understanding how ANY text holds itself together. Many candidates who sit for a medical English test forget that they still need to understand the following:
* the use of several different words which mean the same thing. I am talking about synonyms (words which have a similar meaning). English is a difficult language in this regard, as there may be several ways to say the same thing. There is a historical reason for this...most of you won't be interested in this, just in learning how to deal with the problem!
My hint: Keep a notebook with you, as you read a text. Try to make a note of 10 new words in the text and check to see, if there are synonyms for each word. For example, 'excise' can also be expressed as 'cut out', 'remove tissue' and 'chop out'.... or 'make an incision'.As you can see, 'excise' is a formal word, 'cut out' is a phrasal verb and more informal and 'chop out' is very informal (slang). 'To make an excision' uses the noun form of 'excise'.
You will find when answering the Reading comprehension questions and completing the summary text, that you may have to use a similar term to the term used in the text. Take our example above:
In the text: 'Surgeons are careful to excise a large amount of tissue to ensure that all or most of the cancerous lesion is removed.'
In the summary: 'The wide surgical (1) (excision, cut) aims to (2) (cut out, remove) most of the malignancy.'
Notice that in both (1) and (2), there are two possible answers. Don't worry which one you write. As long as your answer fits into the sentence, you can use either.
Look at a different summary:'The wide surgical (1) (excision, cut) aims to (2) (cut) out most of the malignancy.'
In this case, you can only use 'cut' for (2), because it matches with 'out'. You couldn't put 'remove', because it would not make sense ((2) remove out most of the malignancy.' - NO)
Notice how the summary text uses a different expression for:
1) 'Surgeons are careful to excise a large amount of tissue..' becomes 'The wide surgical excision or cut'
2) 'cancerous lesion' becomes 'malignancy' in the summary.
How can you prepare for this?
1) make a list of the most common verbs used in medical texts:
Surgery: incision, excise, reduce (a tumour), graft, insert, to suture (stitch a wound) etc
Medical: diagnose, treat, manage etc
Specialty areas: research areas such as podiatry, dentistry, radiography etc.
2) Find synonyms for the terms
Finally, keep in mind the structure of the Reading sub-test. Remember that you will have to read several short texts about the same general topic. As you read the texts, think about them. Are they saying the same thing? Are the texts giving conflicting information?