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Six Comprehensive Tips to Ace the Oral Exams This Week (Part 2)

Yesterday, we gave you tips on how to prepare for the oral exams and how to look good for the examiner. Now, we will teach you how to face the teacher.

We will go into detail how you should tackle the three segments of oral with another three tips.

Don’t be afraid of the oral examinations. It’s very simple- just follow these steps. If you master them, you will outshine all your classmates.

Oral tip #4: Reading aloud

Let’s remind ourselves what the examiner is looking for:

– 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.

Things to do:

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1. To pronounce, open your mouth widely when you speak. It helps to articulate your words.

2. Speak slowly and steadily. If you rush, you are more likely to slur.

3. Pause where there are commas and full-stops.

4. Don’t just read the words. Understand the story and read it like you are telling a story to your friend.

5. If you accidentally stumble on words, don’t panic. Just continue reading as though you have done nothing wrong.

Same if you meet a word you don’t know how to read. Attempt to read it like it’s accurate and continue the story.

NEVER EVER stop there and wonder what to do next.

6. Be confident. Sometimes, that takes the exam chills away and the examiner may take you as a strong candidate simply because you are so sure of yourself.


Oral tip #5: Picture Discussion

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1. Always use present tense for oral exams

2. The teacher will probably ask a generic question like “what are they doing here?” Answer the question and continue with that.

3. Do not point at the picture. Instead, use your words to describe. For instance “The man at the bar in the top left of the picture is xxx”

4. We describe the picture systematically- easier for you to interpret and easier for the teacher to understand.

We can start with what’s happening in the a) centre of the picture and b) continue into the background.

5. What’s simpler than talking about people. There can be loads of things to describe them. Pretend you are a reporter at a gossip magazine and answer all the questions the readers want to know.

– What are they doing?

– How are they feeling?

– What is the relationship between the people?

– What do you think will happen later?


1. Remember: The teacher has heard about the description of the same picture a thousand times.

2. What’s different is your personal experience to this whole picture?

*Treat your teacher like a friend (with respect), speak candidly to him (without Singlish)



In 2012’s English oral, the picture was of a boy crying because his balloon burst and a student gave another to him.


Talk about an experience when you saw a boy cry in the mall too and his balloon flew away. Out of kindness you gave yours to him because you adore kids so much and can’t bear to see them cry. You are the eldest in the family and you are used to taking care of your siblings.

– Don’t have such an experience? MAKE IT UP! It’s an oral exam, not a lie detector. Of course, don’t go overboard and go out of point.


– A teacher once advised me not to stop unless I am told to. This may be a bit extreme for some students and there’s a risk you may go out of point. Just make sure you have said enough before you end the discussion.

– During the five-minute standby, you should already have prepared your train of thoughts and the vocabulary that you want to use. Use them now.

– Remember to have eye contact with the teachers

– End with something clever or philosophical if you can. Back to the earlier example, you can say something like “What goes around comes around. I believe in doing good deeds.”

Oral tip #6 Conversation

Without using Singlish, start chatting with the teacher based on the topic given.

1. This is all about confidence.

Be confident- imagine you are friends with the examiner. How would you chat with your best friend?
2. Look at the teacher throughout the session. Keep eye contact and give him/her your most beautiful smile. Charm the examiner.

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3. The teacher will ask a question. NEVER reply with a YES or NO answer. Say more- keep the conversation open-ended.
– If you didn’t get the question, don’t be shy to ask the teacher to repeat himself. It’s better to clarify than to go out of point because you didn’t hear the question correctly

4. Use your personal experience to make the conversation interesting.
5. Don’t stop until the teacher asks you to.

6. If you are pausing for things to say, you can stall with words like “If I remember correctly,” “That reminds me of an incident,” “If that is the case.”

7. Remember to go back to the topic in your conclusion.

 Doesn’t sound easy? It is! Let us try last year’s PSLE conversation topic.

Example: Tell me about your happiest moment.

-Think of something your friends won’t say. Many of them probably talk about their trip to the Universal Studio.

-ALWAYS remember- the way to differentiate yourself from another student is to use personal experience, so you are more real, more natural and could potentially touch the examiner.

I would talk about the day my baby brother was born.

– I was always lonely as an only child. No one would play with me and I would envy my friends who had siblings, because they could share their joy and sorrow together.
– Relate how elated I was when my mother told me I am getting a younger brother. I was jumping for joy. (Note: I tried to use variations of the word happy.) I imagined how fun it would be to be able to have another person in the house and how I would dote on my brother so much.
– Describe the day my mother brought my baby brother home from the hospital. Describe how excited I was when I waited and tears of joys rolled down my cheeks when I saw the new life enter our cosy household.
-Describe the baby. How innocent he looks and how I am sure he will be an angel.
– Conclude saying that’s the happiest day of my life to-date. I am truly blessed to be best friends with my brother. (Note how I go back to the topic i.e. the happiest moment is to be with my brother.)

These six tips are what I used to help myself score for oral in the past. Hope they would be useful to you too.

Best of luck. Let me know how you did. 🙂   


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.

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