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Malaysia: Subject Guides - Must read

MUET 2020 Reading Exam Guide & Tips by a MUET expert

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As the MUET Reading paper is the one which carries the highest weightage of 40%, we have approached a MUET expert, Madam Audrey Wiles, to share with you her invaluable tips for your MUET Reading paper 800/3.


1.     Read (There is a reason why it’s called a MUET Reading paper)

  • Read everything but with a notepad in hand
  • Copy down words which you don’t understand AND more important, phrases that you would like to use in your MUET written essay.


2.     Read quality materials

  • Read articles that are published by reliable sources such as: Reader’s Digest, TIME Magazine…etc.
  • Articles used in the exams are usually from these types of source
  • Keep yourself updated on current issues by reading newspapers (Example: The STAR, New Straits Times, The Edge)


3.     Use your time wisely!

  •  You only have 1.5 hours to answer 45 exam questions
  •  If you do the math, that would mean that you only have 2 minutes per question
  •  ALWAYS read the question first, and underline the keywords
  • Make sure you don’t just skim through the text but scan for specific information


4.     Know your vocabulary

  • There will be 6 texts altogether in the exam paper, and the first one always has a non-linear stimuli (Example: graph, chart or diagram)
  • You will need the relevant vocabulary knowledge to describe the trend(s) shown in the given diagram(s)
  • This is also a useful practice for report writing as it deals with the same language functions



  • For some questions, you will be asked to ‘infer’ or make intelligent assumptions based on the given evidences in the texts
  • For ‘True/False/Not Stated’ questions, NEVER use your own opinions to answer because what is logical to you may not be academically correct
  • My tip to you is that you should underline the evidence(s) in the texts
  • For ‘True’, you must be able to identify proof that shows that the statement is correct
  • You should also underline evidences that prove a statement to be wrong in order to choose ‘False’ as your answer
  • For ‘Not Stated’, you will find that it is almost impossible to underline any evidence at all. Hence, these are the fundamental differences between the answer selections ‘True/False/Not Stated’

6.     Train your brain

  •  Guessing the meaning of a vocabulary can be quite tricky especially when you don’t have the access to a dictionary or the internet (Google.com) during your exam. Hence, you need to train your brain to assess the root word
  •  Focus on the prefix/suffix in order to identify the meaning
  • If you think the word is a positive, negative or neutral one – reconfirm again by looking at the context of the texts for clues to support your assumption
  • Review the answers and options given by eliminating the answer that is most unlikely to be correct before making a calculated guess
  • For example, in the phrase: “the degradation of water quality”, the word ‘degradation’ comes from the root word ‘grade’ which means level or standard. The ‘de’ suffix has a negative connotation where it means the removal of something, while ‘tion’ is a noun that explains the process of something
  • Thus, the phrase means “the drop of standard/quality of water”


7.     Assess the writer’s intentions

 The MUET level comprehension questions do not focus on content alone

 Instead, the questions given require candidates to assess the writer’s: 


  • (A)   Purpose

 Example: to inform, discuss, argue, compare, persuade…etc.


  • (B)   Style of writing

 Example: describing, comparing and contrasting, giving examples, explaining causes and effects, sequencing events…etc.


  • (C)   Tone

   Example: supportive, opposing, indifferent, neutral, biased…etc.



8.    Assess the articles as a whole

  •  Sometimes you may be asked to give a suitable title to an article
  • Or to summarize a specific paragraph
  • Or to come up with a suitable conclusion based on the options given. This clearly requires critical thinking skills or HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) from you.



9.     Keep practicing!

  • Essentially, nothing beats practice and more practice
  • Buy good quality reference books such as Longman or Oxford model tests/actual exam workbooks and try doing each reading paper 3 times
  • First attempt: do it as if you’re sitting for the real exam. Do not refer to any workbooks or dictionaries
  • Second attempt: allow yourself to refer to books, and discuss with your friends if you need to (and if you are doing it as a group) before marking both attempts
  • Note: Your 2nd attempt should score better than your first.
  • Third attempt: Try doing the same set of exam paper again after 2-3 months to see if you are able to retain the knowledge of vocabulary and concepts which you have learned before.



10.  Grade yourself

  • Here’s a useful guide for you to follow when you attempt the exam questions so that you can know where you stand


         You will need to score:

         (A)   21/45 – Band 3

         (B)   27/45 – Band 4

         (C)   33/45 – Band 5

         (D)  39/45 – Band 6


  • Reading is the MOST important MUET paper as it carries 40% or 120/300 marks



Good luck with your upcoming MUET exam!

This is Madam Audrey Wiles, signing off.


Madam Audrey Wiles


Madam Audrey is a Form 6 academic teacher & MUET coordinator at SMK Majakir, Papar. She has been teaching MUET since 2003 and she is an experienced MUET speaking examiner. Madam Audrey provides very useful MUET tips for students on her blog: http://muetmyway.blogspot.com  


Check out the interactive image below for more MUET advice articles:



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