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  4. Tips for oral exams

Tips for oral exams

Foreign language modules often have oral exams at Level 2 and Level 3 where you are asked to give a verbal presentation. Your study materials and tutor will give explain what needs to be done. There are several ways to practise for oral exams during your study.

  • Be prepared to speak aloud to yourself as often as you can about the topics required.
  • Learn ready-made expressions that will help you to interact spontaneously, such as phrases that help you to agree or disagree, intervene politely or invite others to speak. Your module should provide suitable examples. Also prepare some 'holding expressions', such as 'in my opinion' or 'let me see', to allow you to take the time to plan a little more in your head.
  • Make and listen to a recording of yourself practising.
  • As with all forms of revision, practising little and often produces good results.Intensive, focused revision will help you to absorb new language structures.

Listen to Stella and Linda's tips on learning a language.

Stella and Linda's book expands on all these ideas, especially in Chapter 9, 'Assessment'.

Hurd, S. and Murphy, L. (2005) Success with Languages, Oxford, Routledge/The Open University.

Preparation closer to the exam

  • Study your task carefully and prepare all the given materials.
  • Plan your presentation, ensuring that it complies with all instructions, including timings and allocation of marks.
  • Use bullet points for content and structure. If you don't rely too heavily on a written text your presentation will sound more natural and spontaneous.
  • Have at least one or two practice runs of the presentation and discussion, with fellow students or others. It will give you a feel for the interaction - how to question something another student has said, or how to 'take' or 'give' the floor - and will help you to practise useful phrases.
  • Make a recording of yourself and and listen to it, noting whether or not it is to time
  • Ask your tutor to do at least one practice session during a tutorial close to the exam date.