The oral exam is a long held tradition in many schools and disciplines, which poses questions to students in spoken form. Students must then answer questions as appropriate, from material they have studied in preparation for the exam. Demonstrating sufficient knowledge in the subject results in passing the exam or an actual grade.
There are many instances in college and career studies where oral exams are used. As part of graduation from a program at the undergraduate or graduate levels, students might need to prove knowledge of material and demonstrate sufficient understanding of a subject area. Many science majors finish bachelors’ studies with oral exams, or a particular program may require oral and written exams that show how a student has taken in all material studied in a four-year period. Usually study guides or a syllabus is available for these exams so prepared students tend not to be surprised by the questions they’re asked.
Medical schools may also make use of the oral exam for 2nd or 3rd year students, not only to test knowledge but to test ability to think quickly. Psychologists in the US frequently have to take an oral exam prior to being awarded a PhD. Sometimes schools offer an option of taking written and oral exams or completing a project or thesis, and other times, all three are required to graduate. Oral exams are usually thought of as distinct from a defense of thesis, which has questions but is much more specific to the topic of the thesis.
Students may be able to choose their examiners for some oral exams, and this is important thing to consider. It’s vital to think about each teacher’s style and also about relationships staff members have with each other. Contentious faculty may decide to make a student a hapless victim in a desire to prove each other wrong. This is a nightmare scenario for the student, and should be avoided when possible. It may particularly occur in studies where material is highly interpretive.
One valuable tip for students is to practice. Students may not be able to predict all the questions but they can practice by answering questions classmates or peers ask them, and by doing so sitting up or standing up straight. On the day of the exam, students should also plan to dress plainly but respectfully, and in keeping with any dress code requirements.
People taking these exams should remember how much they have studied, which is hopefully quite a lot. Nerves can cause information to temporarily evade the smartest student, but taking a deep breath, and reminding the self that the oral exam is a nice way to show off how much has been learned from teachers, can help overcome nervous moments. Any other relaxation techniques that help can be utilized.
Sometimes the oral exam is an alternative form of examination for students with writing problems in grades below or in college. Some students with dysgraphia or with disorders like dyspraxia or non-verbal learning disorder could be exceptional in school performance if they didn’t have to write things down. Parents may be able to use individualized educational plan (IEP) or 504 meetings to inquire about students taking oral tests to demonstrate their knowledge, instead of taking written exams. This request, when granted, often improves students’ grades immensely.