Getting a PCR (nose and throat swab) test

This is an Easy Read fact sheet about taking a COVID-19 PCR test.


The NSW Government wrote this guide. 
When you see the word ‘we’, it means the 
NSW Government.

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We wrote this guide in an easy to read way. 
We use pictures to explain some ideas. 


We have written some words in bold

This means the letters are thicker and darker.

We explain what these words mean.



You can ask for help to read this guide. 
A friend, family member or support person 
may be able to help you. 

What is a PCR test?

lady asking what a PCR test is


PCR (nose and throat swab) test is a way to check if you have COVID-19.

illustration of a hospital

You need a form from your doctor to get a PCR test.

To get a PCR test, you will need to take your form to a clinic to get tested there.

nurse administering a pcr test

A health care worker does the test for you.


A PCR test is different to a rapid 
antigen test. 

illustration of time in isolation

A rapid antigen test is a fast way to check 
if you have COVID-19.


You can do a rapid antigen test at home.

illustration of a computr screen

We have Easy Read information about rapid 
antigen tests on our website.

Who should get a PCR test?

doctors at patient's hospital bed

Some people are at high risk of getting very 
sick if they have COVID-19.

man raising hand to say he is aged over 60

You are at high risk of catching COVID-19 if 
you are: 


  • aged 60 or over

woman feeling pregnant lady's stomach


  • pregnant

an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 35 or over


  • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 35 or over.

child unwell in bed

You are also at high risk if you:


  • have serious health problems 

person in a wheelchair


  • have a disability

people at aged care home


  • live in an aged care home – a place where older people live

man in wheelchair receives in-home care


  • live in a place where people with disability get care for their disability

woman who has not had a COVID-19 vaccine


  • haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine.

man in tee shirt has hand raised in victory

A vaccine is a medicine that:


  • helps people fight a virus if they come into contact with it

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  • can stop people from getting very sick from the virus

two women standing close to each other


  • can stop you from passing the virus to someone else.

illustration of the coronavirus and an exclamation mark

You should talk to your doctor about what test you should get if you are at high risk of catching COVID-19.


We have Easy Read information about
COVID-19 symptoms on our website.



You can do a rapid antigen test if you have symptoms.

A symptom is a sign you might be sick.

You might:

  • see symptoms
  • feel symptoms.

What happens when you get a PCR test?

Registered nurse, Sarah Stewart

A health care worker will do the PCR test 
for you.

man receiving a tongue swab

The health care worker will take a swab from 
inside your:

  • throat

woman receiving a nose swab


  • nose.

gloved hand holding swab


A swab is a long stick with cotton on the end.

child receiving nasal swab


The test might be a bit uncomfortable.

woman sneezing into elbow

It might make:


  • you cough or sneeze

woman rubs watering eyes


  • your eyes water.

man givees thumbs up in front of clock

It will be over quickly.

medical professional takes down woman's information

The health care worker will tell you:


  • what you must do next

illustration of medical results


  • when you will get your results.

woman and boy with medical results chart

You can ask the health care worker to send 
your results to someone you trust, like a:

  • family member
  • carer.

woman drinking coffee seated inside house


You should stay at home until you receive your test result.

Person closing door with cross mark icon


Stay home so that you don't infect other people, if you have COVID-19.

Where can you get a PCR test?

illustration of a hospital

You can get a PCR test at a clinic if your doctor says you should get one.

Support for you

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You can call the Healthdirect Health Advice Line.

Woman on the phone

You can call the Service NSW COVID-19 

13 77 88


For more information on which test is right for you, visit:

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