|Practise listening to language
CD-roms or foreign language radio stations for 10-15 minutes each
Photograph: Don McPhee
Orals can be more nerve-racking than written
exams because they take place in front of teachers, friends and
If you are doing a foreign language exam, you should have rehearsed a
number of possible situations such as conversations about your
family or what you do in your free time, based on previous oral
exams. You will have to comment and answer questions on these
situations, and learn basic phrases and words that will help
To make this revision more enjoyable, active
and useful, try to work with a friend or relative, preferably one
who has taken an exam in that language already. Tape-recording what you say
can help you to evaluate your performance and identify the areas
that need improving. It will also help your pronunciation.
Careful listening techniques are needed and
it will help if you listen to the radio in the foreign language for
10-15 minutes each day, in the bath or anywhere.
You can revise in similar ways for the
English orals. Practise presenting your talk to a small group who
you will not be working with in the exam.
On the day
- Speak slowly, loudly, clearly and with
- Listen closely to comments and questions,
responding accurately and relevantly. Remember: questions/answers
will depend on what you have already said, so you can steer the
conversation to a certain extent towards topics that you
- If you do not understand a question, stay
calm and ask the examiner to repeat it. If you still do not
understand, be honest and say, "I am sorry but I do not understand
the question," and the examiner will then rephrase the question or
move on to another.