The Reading sub-test consists of two parts:

  • Part A – summary task (15 minutes)
  • Part B – multiple-choice questions

The topics are of general medical interest and are therefore accessible to candidates across all professions

Part A: Summary Task

Part A (15 minutes) assesses candidates' ability to source information from multiple texts, to synthesize information in a meaningful way and to 'skim' and 'scan' material to retrieve information quickly.

Candidates are required to read three or four short passages of text that consist of around 650 words in total and related to a single topic, and their task is to complete 25- 30 gaps in the summary paragraph that summarizes information contained in the passages.

Time management is crucial as this section lasts for only 15 minutes.

Exam strategies:

  • In reading Part A, skimming and scanning are required to find answers from specific sections of the texts rather than full comprehension of all texts. In other words, you are not required to understand every word. If you do not understand a particular word, continue reading the text to see whether the meaning becomes clear by what follows.
  • Learn to identify different text types and use text elements like titles, headings, subheadings, the first sentence of each paragraph, keywords, etc. to anticipate a text's purpose or the kind of information you can expect in the text, and you will be able to navigate more easily to the information you need.
  • Many candidates find it useful to read the gapped summary first. This gives them an idea of what information they need. They can use this to help them target their reading of the texts and to disregard irrelevant information.
  • Read as widely as possible so that you become familiar with a wide range of language, notjust language used in test preparation materials.
  • Develop awareness of signposting language, which indicates which kind of information will follow.

For example:

To show:

  • The order of events, e.g., firstly, secondly; initially, subsequently, in the end
  • Consequences, e.g., due to, therefore, as a result.
  • Contrasting or alternative ideas, e.g., however, on the other hand, despite.
  • The extension of an idea, e.g., also, additionally, furthermore.

  • Develop awareness of common features of academic and professional texts, such as:

    • Text references, e.g., this, the other study, as noted above.
    • Nominalization: choosing nouns rather than verbs or adjectives, e.g., explanation [from explain], detoxification, assessment.
    • Complex comparative structures, e.g., The study found that women over 60 benefited from the therapy almost twice as much as those aged between 20 and 35 did.
    • Long noun phrases, e.g., The four-year study into the uptake and continuing use of the drug-based treatment administered with appropriate medical supervision discovered that.
    • Groups of words which relate to the degree of certainty, e.g., states, concludes, implies, suggests, proposes, assumes, supposes, believes, considers, presumes.
  • Develop an understanding of different types of reading activities such as:

    • Reading for detailed understanding
    • Reading for learning new vocabulary
    • Reading for leisure
    • Reading for finding particular information
    • Reading for understanding the theme/tone of a text
  • Take time-limited practice in reading and Meta Guiding to improve your reading speed.

Meta guiding: It's when you use a finger (or a pointer like a pen) to guide your eyes to specific words. The point is to decrease distraction and focus on the specific words to increase your reading speed. Instead of trying to follow our reading with our finger, we try to increase our reading speed, until it catches up with the finger. The effort required to catch up does not allow us to reread the text or phase off the text we read.

  • Make sure your answer fits the gap in the summary and that you do not use too many words. Sometimes you will be able to insert words taken directly from the text; sometimes you will need to fit your answer to the order of information and the grammar of the summary.

Part B: Multiple-Choice Questions

Reading Part B (45 minutes) assesses candidates' ability to read and understand comprehensive texts on health-related topics similar to those in academic or professional journals. Candidates are required to read two passages (600-800 words each) and answer a set of multiple-choice questions (16-20 in total).


Candidates are expected to be able to:

  • Infer the meaning of unknown words
  • Make logical inferences at the paragraph level
  • Identify main idea or theme of an article
  • Analyse how ideas connect within the paragraph in a meaningful way
  • Recognize different lines of argument from a text.

Exam strategies:

  • Divide the 45 minutes appropriately between the two texts and focus on one text at a time.
  • Read the title and the whole text through quickly at the start to get an overall sense of what it is about. Then, read the question and then identify the part of the text which answers the question.
  • Avoid choosing an answer by matching the words in the question with words in the text.
  • Always justify the answer you have chosen as many students make the mistake of choosing a wrong answer simply because it sounds plausible
  • Try to understand the tone of a reading passage. The tone is the author's attitude or viewpoint towards a subject. It can be identified by looking at word choices or phrases. For example, a cat described as a loveable puppy is positive, but one described as fierce is frightening.
  • Additionally, try to decide if a word is abstract or concrete or general or specific.

Abstract terms refer to ideas or concepts; they have no physical referents. Examples of abstract terms include love, success, freedom etc.

Concrete terms refer to objects or events that are available to the senses. For example, a pen, a car, a calculator etc.

General terms refer to groups; specific terms refer to individuals-.

For example, Furniture is a general term; it includes within it many different items.

The group can be made smaller with a less general term, chair.

Although this is still pretty general (that is, it still refers to a group rather than an individual), it's easier to picture a chair than it is to picture furniture.

Then, shift next to rocking chair. As the image becomes more explicit, it becomes easier to form an attitude towards it, and it communicates more clearly than the more general or less specific terms before it.

We can become more and more specific and get to the description of a single chair.

When you focus on recognizing and understanding different attitudes or viewpoints, your ability to infer implied or underlying meaning will improve.

  • Leave yourself enough time before the 45 minutes is over to record your answers to Part B.
  • Don't leave any blanks – an incorrect answer will not receive any marks, but no marks are deducted for incorrect answers.