Oral Exam Tips for O-Level Students in year 2022

At the point of writing, we are currently 2 months away from the O and N Level Exams. The question, as always, is: are the students prepared?

Here are some tips from my 16 years of teaching in a  secondary school under the MOE (ministry of education) singapore.

  • Be loud and clear
  • Give detailed, clear and engaging answers
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree
  • During the waiting preparation time, rehearse your reading – this does not mean reading the entire passage twice and that’s it. Focus paragraph by paragraph on which parts require pausing, raising/lowering tone or stress and difficult words.

The first part of the oral exam is reading and it has to be loud. That’s why this part of the exam is called Reading Aloud, makes sense? No amount of creativity or imagination is needed here.

All the student candidate needs to do is to read out a passage accurately, not perfectly, but with all the fluency and intonation needed for an invisible expectant audience, a.k.a., the two examiners, and hope for the best that he or she doesn’t stumble across any difficult words like “debris” or “ambience”.

The next part is the interesting part – Spoken Interaction. . The student candidate will firstly watch a short video clip. The examiners will ask three main topical questions to each student candidate. The student candidates are not required to know the exact words spoken by the characters in the video clip. Nor will the student candidates be asked to paraphrase the characters’ conversation. However, they are required to know what is happening in the video clip.

One of the two examiners will start by asking the student candidate a specific personal question related to the picture, for example, “Would you take part in this activity as shown in the picture? Why or why not?” The student can think (about 3 to 4 seconds) before giving a plausible, reasonable response.

What kind of answers are the two examiners expecting? Examiners are looking for personal responses that are detailed, clear and engaging to the examiners! Never ever give “Yes/No” replies without any further elaboration. Give the examiners the opportunity to ask you questions and show them the confidence to answer them with good vocabulary, pronunciation, and varied sentence structure!

 

Now, let me now address a few FAQs that I always hear from students after their Oral Exam:

If I get too emotional and feel like crying, I know I can’t help it, how?

Do not cry, instead stay focused to brainstorm for content ideas. At home practice, parents can sit with their child, read one article daily and discuss the relevant issues in the article with him or her. Ask him/her to give opinions, details and supporting reasons.

Only one of the two examiners asked me questions, the other just kept quiet – is this normal?

Yes, this is normal, the two examiners were just taking turns with the student candidates.

The oral examiner only asked me 3 questions, am I alright?

Yes, if you had adequately answered each one of them.

No, if most of your answers were just simple one-liners without further elaboration and the examiners can tell whether a student candidate is taking the oral exam seriously or not.

The oral examiner asked me more than the 3 questions, am I alright?

Yes, if they find your conversation content very interesting and they really enjoy talking more with you.
No, if you hadn’t provided sufficient details in your answering and are therefore lacking in details.

The oral examiner only asked me 2 questions instead of 3, am I alright?

Congratulations! You have inadvertently managed to answer one of the 3 Topical Questions during your first or second answering and have therefore addressed that Topic Question already, so the examiners need not ask you any more questions! Well done!

If a question is too personal, can I choose not to answer it?

Well, you can but I wouldn’t advise it.

This is because that would mean that the examiners would have to come up with something else (another thematic question) that may be more difficult than what you originally rejected.

Can I not agree with what the examiner is saying?

Yes, of course! But you must defend yourself with BETTER reasons than the examiners’, otherwise you would end up looking silly, or worse, foolish.

In the next article, I will focus on Oral Exam Tips for Parents – how parents can help their children to prepare for the Oral Examination.

This article was written by Teacher Daniel from Learner Net.

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about the author
Daniel
Teacher Daniel is an Ex MOE teacher with 16 years of secondary school teaching experience in English Teaching. He holds a bachelor in English and Economics from NUS and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the National Institute of Education. Teacher Daniel is in his element teaching teenagers and children. He loves to engage teens and children alike through storytelling.

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