Six Comprehensive Tips to Ace the Oral Exams This Week

Submitted by Weiyi Lim

 photo 4.jpgThe PSLE oral examination will be held this week on Aug. 15 and 16. It takes up 15 percent of the English paper and finishes in around 11 minutes.  Compared to the written components, it should be the easier segment to ace.

We will advise you how to ace your oral examination here. (Skip to: tip four to six here.)

Tip #1 Look good

Always create a good first impression.

It seems like blasphemy to say this, but always remember teachers are humans too. They may not mean to judge but subconsciously, if you look like a Grade A student, they may overlook some mistakes you made.

 photo 3.jpg

1. Have a good haircut before the exams, look like a good student.
2. Don’t play football before the exams and get yourself all sweaty and smelly.
3. Wear a well-pressed uniform and clean white shoes.
4. Make sure your breath doesn’t stink; eat a mint before the exams if it does.
5. Smile and greet the teachers when it’s your turn.
6. Ask for permission to sit out of courtesy.
7. Look confident.

These points may not seem to tackle the oral exams itself but trust me, looking the part of a good candidate is half the battle won.

Tip 2: Know the Game

Before you can score, know what your examiners are looking for and you can focus on what they want.

 photo 2.jpgThere are three segments to the oral exams.

a. Reading Aloud (10m)

Pupils are assessed on their ability to pronounce and articulate words clearly, as well as their ability to read fluently with appropriate expression and rhythm.

b. Picture Discussion (10m)

Pupils are assessed on their ability to interpret the situation in the picture, using correct grammar and appropriate vocabulary.

c. Conversation (10m)

The examiner will engage the pupil in a conversation on a given topic.

Here are the objectives:

• read a passage with good pronunciation and clear articulation
• use appropriate rhythm and stress to achieve a well-paced, fluent reading of a passage
• read with appropriate variation of pitch and tone in order to convey the information, ideas and feelings in a passage
• interpret the situation in a given picture
• use a range of appropriate vocabulary and structures
• give a personal response
• express oneself clearly and interact with the examiner

(Source: MOE)

Tip #3 Prepping up for the Stage

 photo 1-6.jpg1. REMEMBER to bring your entry proof.
2. Just before the exams, you may be waiting for your turn a while longer than expected. Do not get frustrated or panic. Just stay calm. It’s just a while more.
-If you have some guide books, just read them while waiting.
Read them out (without disturbing your classmates) to warm up your tongue.
3. When it’s your turn to standby, you will be given the short story and picture for preparation for about *five* minutes.

       ****This is the crucial part of the examinations****

– Read through the story once to get a gist of what the story is about.
– After reading in your mind once, read it out (in a small whisper so no one else hears you)- it is important to read it out so you know how you will sound like/react when you are with the examiners.

– OK now- move on to the picture. Ask yourself this: in one sentence, what is the picture about?
– Very calmly, try to describe the picture in your mind from the middle (where the action is) to the rest of the picture
– Think of the vocabulary that you could use in the conversation.

– Hopefully, you still have some time left. Go back to the passage. Read it again in a whisper.
– Note the tough words and try to pronounce it.
– Note the parts where it’s like a tongue twister to you- read through that part again to make sure you can ace it
– Note the full-stops, commas- so you know where you can catch your breath
– Repeat the passage another time in a whisper and in the pace that you would in front of the examiners. Practice makes perfect.

– Which item are you less confident with? Go back to the passage or picture and practise how you are going to say it or read it.
– NEVER, EVER idle and look around and just daydream. This is precious time- focus on the passage/picture- that’s the most important thing in your life NOW.
– Repeat reading or repeat explaining the picture to yourself till you are called for your turn.


It’s show time.

Smile, hold your head tall and walk forward.

Click here for Tips 4-6 where we advise on the three components of the oral exams.

Wei is a financial journalist in the day and solves PSLE questions at night. He recently started a facebook page with his buddy to help children with PSLE queries.

Mon 12/08/2013