Preparing for an Oral Exam

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Fleming, Grace. "Preparing for an Oral Exam." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439. Fleming, Grace. (2017, June 9). Preparing for an Oral Exam. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439 Fleming, Grace. "Preparing for an Oral Exam." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439 (accessed October 21, 2017).
Oral exams can be intimidating!
Cavan Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Are you nervous about answering questions during a face to face exam? Who wouldn't be?

Oral exams can be particularly intimidating for some students because they present two different challenges: the challenge of recalling material quickly, and the challenge of speaking to an audience —even if the audience is made up of only one person.

Since oral exams are much like job interviews, you can prepare for these in the same way that applicants prepare.

They predict and practice.

Predicting Questions

You can start by collecting all of the material that is likely to be covered during your exam period. Read over the information to recognize any possible themes or patterns. If you are working with a textbook, you can use titles and subtitles to find probable themes.

Now try to predict possible essay-type questions from the themes. Think about it: you're not going to be asked true or false questions, you're going to be asked questions that require a long answer. So what would you ask if you were the teacher?

If possible, go back over old tests and re-word the questions you've answered before. This is how many teachers come up with questions for a comprehensive exam.

Write down each possible question on an index card. Use these like you would flashcards and practice answering questions out loud, in front of a mirror. 

Why Use a Mirror?

There are a few good reasons you should use a mirror to practice.

First, the mirror will show you any nervous habits you might display as you're speaking. While it's true that you would not be penalized for nervous habits, it is also true that you might create some contagious nervous energy. Your tester might become jittery if you are — and there's no point in creating that sort of atmosphere!

Secondly, the mirror reflection (as strange as it seems) will make you feel as if somebody is actually watching you as you speak.

The first time you practice in front of the mirror, you should play the role of the tester. Observe yourself as he or she would. Watch for visual clues: do you smile with confidence, or do you twitch nervously? Signs of nervousness are important, because your nerves can make you forget important details when you're actually there.

Next it's important to switch your point of view in front of the mirror, and pretend that the reflection is somebody else. Don't really pay attention to the person in the mirror. Instead, try to "psych yourself" into thinking that this reflection is really a teacher or tester. This technique just gives you a little practice with speaking to an audience.

Using Flash Cards

Next, make a list of vocabulary terms and create a flash card for each one. Test yourself with the flash cards until you know everyone.

Then, select three flash cards at random. Pretend to be the tester, and ask a question that connects the three terms together. This method helps you make connections between all the concepts that have been covered on your topic.

If you are a visual learner, you may want to draw images to enhance your memory.

Prepare the Night Before

When you feel good about your appearance, you feel more confident and self-assured. It's a good idea to find the best outfit for the day, whether that means wearing the most businesslike outfit you own or the most comfortable outfit you own. Make sure you dress in a way that is appropriate for your situation.

  • Don't drink caffeine if it tends to keep you awake. You'll need plenty of sleep.
  • Pack any papers or visual aids you might need for the test.
  • Practice your answers in front of a mirror again.

The Day of the Test

  • Eat something for breakfast, even if you don't feel hungry.
  • Smile.
  • Give yourself a moment to think before your answer.
  • Recognize when you've said enough. It's important to know when to stop.
  • Back up a yes or no answer with evidence or reasoning.
  • If you don't know an answer right away, feel free to take time to think.
  • If you are able to use a blank sheet of paper and a pen/pencil, use the paper to draw the images you created for memory boosters.
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Preparing for an Oral Exam." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439. Fleming, Grace. (2017, June 9). Preparing for an Oral Exam. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439 Fleming, Grace. "Preparing for an Oral Exam." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/preparing-for-an-oral-exam-1857439 (accessed October 21, 2017).