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Last-Minute Guide To Oral Exams (Primary 3–6)

Exam season can sneak up on busy parents—if you’ve been procrastinating on helping your child prepare for his/her upcoming oral exams, we’ve got quick tips and links to help save the day.

Reading Practice

Diana Soh, an English teacher at enrichment centre thinkBIG, recommends keeping things simple leading up to the exams. Her advice is for children to practise reading short passages with five rules in mind:

  • Pause for a 1/2 second after commas and full-stops.
  • Boost your energy when beginning a sentence.
  • Pronounce the ends of words.
  • Be loud enough to be heard by the examiner.
  • To stand out from the crowd, read with expression.

If You Have Time:

On her website, children’s author Mem Fox demonstrates reading with a loud voice, a soft voice, a fast voice, a slow voice, a high voice, and a low voice. With her examples as a guide, children can experiment with varying speeds and tones to convey different emotions. They’re not required to be dramatic for the oral exam, but this exercise will show them how their voice can be used as a storytelling tool.

Stimulus-Based Conversation Practice

Typically, Primary 3-4 students will be shown four pictures based on a theme that they will likely be familiar with, and they will be required to choose one picture to elaborate on. According to Diana of thinkBIG, common themes include:

  • Hobbies/enrichment activities
  • Parties (pictures may depict different themes such as a pirate theme, or different party locations)
  • Holidays (pictures may show different destinations, different climates, or different holiday activities)
  • Sports/Exercise
  • Food (examples include local delicacies and exotic foods)
  • Volunteer Work (pictures may show different groups that are being helped e.g. children or the elderly, or different types of charitable activities such as helping at a soup kitchen)
  • Instruments

Parents can select a few common themes and find relevant pictures for children to view and talk about. If a child is unable to elaborate on a picture, be patient and help them to structure their responses according to the 5W1H (who, what, where, when, why, how) framework. For instance, if the picture shows ice cream, parents can prompt children with questions like these:

  • WHO do you normally go out for ice cream with?
  • WHAT toppings do you like on your ice cream?
  • WHY do you like this flavour of ice cream?

If You Have Time:

Get your child to create mind maps for various topics based on the 5W1H model.

Upper Primary

For parents of children in Primary 5-6, tutor Evelyn Nair of Thinking Factory is sharing practice questions, as well as actual oral exam questions (contributed by her students) on her blog, with model answers:

If You Have Time:

Choose age-appropriate newspaper articles to read with your child, and think up questions for him/her based on the articles.

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