O-Level English Oral Preparation Tips

A lot of students worry about the challenges of this particular part of the exams. The oral examination component is made up of the reading-aloud section as well as the spoken interaction portion, remember. To help you out, we’ll share exam tips for how to ace the O-Level English oral exams. We’ll cover everything from what teachers are looking out for to how you prepare yourself.‍‍‍

Oral Examination Format

First, take note that the O-Level English oral exam represents 20% of your grades. 

The exam is composed of a reading-aloud section and a spoken-interaction section. The former is worth 10 marks and the latter, 20 marks.

Oral Examination Format

First, take note that the O-Level English oral exam represents 20% of your grades. 

The exam is composed of a reading-aloud section and a spoken-interaction section. The former is worth 10 marks and the latter, 20 marks.

Purpose of the Oral Exams

The exam structure for language subjects targets three main components: reading and comprehension, writing, and speaking. 

The oral exams in particular seek to assess a student’s communication and presentation skills. They’re a display of how well the student is able to express ideas and demonstrate fluency of speech.

In some senses, they may also test important life skills, specifically ones related to communication and interaction with others.

The oral exams may appear to be less targeted compared to the written exams despite these clear assessment points, however.  

That’s because conversation topics and O-Level oral questions are open-ended. Moreover, different students will come up with different responses, leading to unique conversations.

Purpose of the Oral Exams

The exam structure for language subjects targets three main components: reading and comprehension, writing, and speaking. 

The oral exams in particular seek to assess a student’s communication and presentation skills. They’re a display of how well the student is able to express ideas and demonstrate fluency of speech.

In some senses, they may also test important life skills, specifically ones related to communication and interaction with others.

The oral exams may appear to be less targeted compared to the written exams despite these clear assessment points, however.  

That’s because conversation topics and O-Level oral questions are open-ended. Moreover, different students will come up with different responses, leading to unique conversations.

What Examiners Are Looking For

Knowing this will tell you how to prepare for and also assess your strengths and weaknesses in your preparation for the exams. You can break up examiners’ assessment points into these categories:

Reading Aloud

  • Fluency in reading
  • Pronunciation and enunciation 
  • Pace and rhythm of reading
  • Tone of voice and expressions

What Examiners Are Looking For

Knowing this will tell you how to prepare for and also assess your strengths and weaknesses in your preparation for the exams. You can break up examiners’ assessment points into these categories:

Reading Aloud

  • Fluency in reading
  • Pronunciation and enunciation 
  • Pace and rhythm of reading
  • Tone of voice and expressions

Spoken Interaction

  • Ability to express thoughts clearly
  • Correct usage of vocab and expressions
  • Ability to expand and elaborate on questions with relevant responses
  • Ability to provide personal response and engage in conversation

Spoken Interaction

  • Ability to express thoughts clearly
  • Correct usage of vocab and expressions
  • Ability to expand and elaborate on questions with relevant responses
  • Ability to provide personal response and engage in conversation

Preparing for the oral exams

Before preparing for the exams, you should know what pitfalls are possible. In our experience, we’ve noticed that many students students struggle most with these things when walking into the oral examinations: 

  • Anxiety or nerves
  • Mental blocks that stop them from carrying on the conversation fluently
  • Difficulty in structuring and bringing across their thoughts and ideas
  • Inability to stay on-topic
  • Difficulty answer the question due to lack of information or comfort with the topic

To counter these common pitfalls, here are some things to do ahead of time:

Preparing for the oral exams

Before preparing for the exams, you should know what pitfalls are possible. In our experience, we’ve noticed that many students students struggle most with these things when walking into the oral examinations: 

  • Anxiety or nerves
  • Mental blocks that stop them from carrying on the conversation fluently
  • Difficulty in structuring and bringing across their thoughts and ideas
  • Inability to stay on-topic
  • Difficulty answer the question due to lack of information or comfort with the topic

To counter these common pitfalls, here are some things to do ahead of time:

1. Read the news

You may be worried about not knowing how to answer questions during your oral exams. 

Many times it’s also possible that you may not have experience or information about the possible question topics asked during the exams.

So how can you answer these questions?

Among other things, by trying to load up on some general information that you can use in your exams. Read the news, because current events are likely to come up in the English oral topics.

1. Read the news

You may be worried about not knowing how to answer questions during your oral exams. 

Many times it’s also possible that you may not have experience or information about the possible question topics asked during the exams.

So how can you answer these questions?

Among other things, by trying to load up on some general information that you can use in your exams. Read the news, because current events are likely to come up in the English oral topics.

2. Practice reading aloud 

This is easy to do and you don't even need to do it with specific exam articles either.

Instead, you can practice your reading-aloud skills with any passage now.  

Students tend to trip or miss words if they’re not used to reading aloud regularly. By practising ahead of time, you can work on your pronunciation and fluency. 

Here are some things to look out for during your practice: your pauses at appropriate punctuation marks (commas, which get a second, and full stops, which get around two seconds), “th” sounds (work on clarity here), and words ending with “th” and “s”.

2. Practice reading aloud 

This is easy to do and you don't even need to do it with specific exam articles either.

Instead, you can practice your reading-aloud skills with any passage now.  

Students tend to trip or miss words if they’re not used to reading aloud regularly. By practising ahead of time, you can work on your pronunciation and fluency. 

Here are some things to look out for during your practice: your pauses at appropriate punctuation marks (commas, which get a second, and full stops, which get around two seconds), “th” sounds (work on clarity here), and words ending with “th” and “s”.

3. Watch out for commonly mispronounced words

Many times, we may not even be aware of our mispronunciations. That’s why this particular prep tip is best implemented with someone like a tutor around to correct you if necessary.

Pronouncing well will also help you stand out from other examinees, so this is worth practising.

3. Watch out for commonly mispronounced words

Many times, we may not even be aware of our mispronunciations. That’s why this particular prep tip is best implemented with someone like a tutor around to correct you if necessary.

Pronouncing well will also help you stand out from other examinees, so this is worth practising.

4. Listen to others

Practice makes perfect… but not if we’re practising the wrong things. Again, a tutor is indispensable here, but if you can’t get one, there’s an alternative: media.

To be exact, turn to native-English media. Tune into news channels, Ted Talks, and academic shows or documentaries. 

This helps train your ear while also expanding your general knowledge and familiarity with proper expressions.

4. Listen to others

Practice makes perfect… but not if we’re practising the wrong things. Again, a tutor is indispensable here, but if you can’t get one, there’s an alternative: media.

To be exact, turn to native-English media. Tune into news channels, Ted Talks, and academic shows or documentaries. 

This helps train your ear while also expanding your general knowledge and familiarity with proper expressions.

5. Record yourself

Sometimes, recording yourself helps you spot where you tend to ramble off-topic or make errors in pronunciation or enunciation. 

So, try answering a query aloud and recording it, then listen to it afterwards for assessment.

5. Record yourself

Sometimes, recording yourself helps you spot where you tend to ramble off-topic or make errors in pronunciation or enunciation. 

So, try answering a query aloud and recording it, then listen to it afterwards for assessment.

6. Use the PEEP format

PEEP gives you a structured way to respond in the spoken-interaction section of your exam. 

PEEP refers to this: Point, Explanation, Examples, Personal experience/opinion. 

So, let’s say the examiner says, “Do you think children should be made to do chores at home?”

Using PEEP, you can structure a response to this easily.

  • Point: Yes, I think children should be made to do chores at home.
  • Explanation: Because it teaches them responsibility while also letting them feel useful, both of which can contribute to their growth as individuals. It also heightens their appreciation of the work that the family puts into maintaining the home.
  • Examples: For example, if a child is taught that he has to do the dishes every other day, he’s less likely to take that task for granted when someone else does it. He can also get his first taste of responsibilities, which will continue to appear as he grows up and eventually becomes an adult.
  • Personal experience: Personally, I liked being asked to do chores, because it made me feel as though I was contributing to the family. It also taught me how important it is to do one’s duties, so someone else doesn’t end up with added work.

6. Use the PEEP format

PEEP gives you a structured way to respond in the spoken-interaction section of your exam. 

PEEP refers to this: Point, Explanation, Examples, Personal experience/opinion. 

So, let’s say the examiner says, “Do you think children should be made to do chores at home?”

Using PEEP, you can structure a response to this easily.

  • Point: Yes, I think children should be made to do chores at home.
  • Explanation: Because it teaches them responsibility while also letting them feel useful, both of which can contribute to their growth as individuals. It also heightens their appreciation of the work that the family puts into maintaining the home.
  • Examples: For example, if a child is taught that he has to do the dishes every other day, he’s less likely to take that task for granted when someone else does it. He can also get his first taste of responsibilities, which will continue to appear as he grows up and eventually becomes an adult.
  • Personal experience: Personally, I liked being asked to do chores, because it made me feel as though I was contributing to the family. It also taught me how important it is to do one’s duties, so someone else doesn’t end up with added work.

 7. Practice talking to others/yourself in the mirror

We understand that shyness can sometimes get the better of you, especially if you’re not used to speaking to strangers.

Fortunately, it’s something that you can overcome with practice.  

Start by talking to yourself in the mirror. Just having someone – even yourself – to look at as you talk can help.

As you progress, try this with family members, friends, etc.

This will also enable you to get feedback from them and improve in the process.

 7. Practice talking to others/yourself in the mirror

We understand that shyness can sometimes get the better of you, especially if you’re not used to speaking to strangers.

Fortunately, it’s something that you can overcome with practice.  

Start by talking to yourself in the mirror. Just having someone – even yourself – to look at as you talk can help.

As you progress, try this with family members, friends, etc.

This will also enable you to get feedback from them and improve in the process.

8. Don’t end abruptly

This is our last tip: always remember to conclude the conversation well. Avoid ending it abruptly by using a concluding line, a summary of what you said, and so on.

8. Don’t end abruptly

This is our last tip: always remember to conclude the conversation well. Avoid ending it abruptly by using a concluding line, a summary of what you said, and so on.

Improve Your O-Level Exam Prep Further

To sum things up, the O-Level English exams may seem intimidating, but they’re certainly possible to ace with the right preparation. Among other things, you can try the English oral tips we provided above. 

Need a little more help with your O-Level exam preparation? At Aspire Hub, we have just what you need: professional and highly experienced tutors, personalised learning plans, and even small class sizes for maximum attention per student. 

Learn more about our O-Level prep classes now!