Part 1: Reading In The OC Test | New OC Test Prep Guide

Reading in the OC test assesses students' critical thinking abilities in verbal reasoning. Read this guide to learn how to ace the Reading section of the OC Test.

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In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the Opportunity Class Reading test. We’ll go through the test format and structure, what’s tested, and the best ways to prepare your child.


The OC Reading test

What is Reading in the OC test?

The Reading component of the OC Placement Test is designed to assess students’ critical thinking abilities in verbal reasoning. The Reading test requires students to read a range of texts and answer related questions.


What is the format of the OC Reading test?

The OC Reading test is the first test to be conducted on the day of the OC test. Students will be given a Reading question paper with 25 multiple choice questions to complete in 30 minutes.

Test section Questions Time
Reading 25 30 minutes

The Reading test consists of fewer questions than Mathematical Reasoning or Thinking Skills because it requires students to read through passages before answering questions based on those passages. Generally, students can expect to read 4-5 longer passages in the Reading test.


Some student tips for the OC Reading test:

  • Annotate the passage as you read. You can write on the question booklet, make sure to circle any words you don’t know and underline important sections.
  • Try to guess words you don’t know by looking at how it’s used in the passage.
  • Read all passages thoroughly. Rather than skimming through the same passage again and again, aim to get a complete understanding of the passage in one go.
  • Attempt all questions even if you’re not sure of the answer.


What does the OC Reading test involve?

As the name suggests, the OC Reading test is all about reading! This section of the test examines comprehension ability by asking students to read a passage and answer questions that test their understanding of the passage.

While there is no set range of question types or tested topics, there are a few main skills required to ace the OC Reading test:

1. Finding information
2. Guessing word and phrase meanings
3. Literal and inferred meaning of a text

Out of the three question types, questions involving the literal and inferred meaning of a text are the most difficult.


Reading Question Types in the OC test


Mastering these skills comes down to reading regularly and widely and practising answering questions that target these skill groups. Let’s take a look at what each of these skills involves and how you can help your child master OC Reading.


1. Finding information

Many of the lower-order questions are about finding information. In questions like these, students must scan texts to locate specific information that the question is asking for.

Examples of what these questions can look like are:

  • What was the character doing at the beginning of the story?
  • Where was the character after lunch?
  • What is the name of the character’s dog?

If your child struggles with these types of questions, make sure they are reading the passage properly. Students often miss details when they get into a habit of skimming through texts. While reading speed is important, reading accurately is most important.

Below are two processes students can use to efficiently and accurately extract information from comprehension passages.

year 3 english theory book excerpt comprehension techniques for year 3 OC

2. Guessing word and phrase meanings

At this stage, Year 4 students will naturally be seeing many words for the first time. The OC Reading test contains questions to define certain difficult words or phrases in the context of the given passage.

While it’s important for your child to be constantly expanding their vocabulary, students need to learn to read words within context. By looking at how the word is used, students should be able to contextualise and thus, guess the definition of the word.

Need to work on expanding your child’s vocabulary? Check out our article on 7 Reasons To Boost Your Child’s Vocabulary where you can sign up for our free English Vocabulary Newsletter to receive weekly word lists with definitions and examples.

Below is an example of the techniques students can use to effectively decode unknown word meanings.

year 3 english theory book excerpt word decoding comprehension techniques for year 3 OC


3. Literal and inferred meaning of a text

These types of questions ask students to summarise a sentence, paragraph, or entire text to find the literal idea or meaning that is being conveyed. Students must use the information given to them and extract an idea that is already present within the passage.

This skill essentially requires students to be able to pick out an appropriate meaning specific to the question. Further, students need to pick the right meaning from a range of other meanings present in the passage.

Encourage your child to read. Whether they’re books, comics, recipe books, picture books, or kids magazines, developing a positive relationship with reading is an important foundation for all future English skills.

Finding the inferred meaning is a step above finding the literal meaning. It asks students to read a passage and then extrapolate, or make informed guesses, on the situation. In order to do this, students must be able to read between the lines by thinking about the writer’s word choice and tone of voice.

To improve on both of these skills, students must get used to understanding the message conveyed by the author in any given text. While it’s easy to do this when the passage is short, students need to get used to reading progressively longer texts. As they do this, students must think about what the message of the overarching text is.

Below is an example of the reasoning processes students must use to analyse inferred ideas in a comprehension passage.

year 3 english theory book excerpt making an inference comprehension techniques for year 3 OC

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Developing your child’s reading ability

If your child struggles with reading, it’s time to start working on it now rather than later. The good news is that primary school students have plenty of time to build on their skills. Year 3 and Year 4 students also have another advantage – an abundance of spare time.

Reading just 30 minutes a day can help improve reading, writing, and grammar skills necessary for foundational English learning.

Check out our article on Why Year 6 Students Should Use a Reading Journal to access a free downloadable reading journal. Alternatively, if your child finds reading books daunting, have a look at our Ultimate Short Story Reading List where you can take a look at a variety of flash fiction, short stories, and novellas for a range of age groups.


How to prepare your child for the OC Reading test

So, now you know the importance of reading widely for developing your child’s foundational English skills. But how can you get your child ready for the OC Reading test specifically?

You need to familiarise your child with the types of questions that commonly appear in the exam. Start by getting your child to attempt the sample Reading paper offered on the NSW Department of Education website. The more practice, the better.

Once your child is ready to attempt a greater range of questions, they can attempt the huge array of OC Reading questions offered in the Matrix+ Critical Thinking course.

Does your child need more hands-on English help? The Matrix Primary School English Course offers on-campus and online English tuition targeting writing, grammar, and punctuation.


The OC Reading Practice Tests

Sample Reading test papers

Below are paper-based sample Thinking Skills tests from the NESA website:


2021 OC Reading test papers

Below are Reading tests from the 2021 Opportunity Class Placement Test from the NESA website:


Want to ace the Reading test in OC?

Enrol into the Matrix Online OC Preparation Course and develop your child’s critical thinking ability. The structured course teaches all essential techniques and comprehensive coverage of all question types for the OC test.


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