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4 surefire tips to impress your O-level English Oral examiner

4 surefire tips to impress your O-level English Oral examiner

Depending on a student’s personality and disposition, the O-level English Oral Examination will feel like an ice cream sundae for some and a Monday afternoon in hell for others.

That said, no matter if your child is outspoken or has the tendency to blend into the crowd, knowing the key areas to work on is a surefire way to boost their chances of locking down that easy 30 marks.

Therefore, we’ve put together a short guide you can use to better prepare your child for the big day.

Exam Format

The O-level English Oral Examination (Paper 4) consists of two parts:

  • Planned response (15 marks)
  • Spoken interaction (15 marks)

What Examiners Are Looking For

In order to ace the O-level English Oral Examination, your child has to master four main components:

  • Pronunciation and enunciation 
  • Expression
  • Ability to provide personal responses

The examiner will be assessing your child based on their ability to present ideas and opinions fluently, in a way that keeps the listener engaged.

  1. Pronunciation And Enunciation

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

We don’t know the answer to that. What we do know is that the right sentence when unheard or heard incorrectly by the examiner leads to groans of regret. Therefore, it’s important that your child learns to read in a clear and accurate manner that gets them the points they deserve.

Here are a few practical tips:

  • Pronounce the end consonants clearly

Eg. ‘s’ at the end of 'boys', ‘t’ at the end of 'cart', and ‘k’ at the end of 'stack'

  • Watch out for words with tricky endings

Eg. gasp (gas-p), physicists (physicis-t-s)

  • Know the difference between short and long vowels

Short vowels give off a shorter sound while long vowels say the name of the alphabet.
Take ‘orange’ and ‘open’ for example. While ‘open’ is the shorter word, it’s actually a long vowel due to the sound the ‘o’ makes, which resembles the name of the letter. But in the case of ‘orange’, the ‘o’ makes a much shorter sound, thus it’s a short vowel. 

Eg. Short vowels - ‘Fat’ and ‘Bed’. Long vowels - ‘Fate’ and ‘Wheat’

  1. Expression

Intonation injects feelings into the conversation and keeps things dynamic. By ensuring that your voice goes up and down, you add a cadence that keeps the examiner hooked and engaged.

  • Stress on certain words for emphasis

Eg. The ocean is a vast ecosystem filled with diverse marine life, ranging from colourful coral reefs to majestic whales and tiny plankton.

By stressing the italicised words, you're able to convey the key points of your message and draw the listener's attention to what's important.

  1. Ability To Provide Personal Responses/Opinions

To make a stellar impression during the spoken interaction section, it’s important that your child is prepared to provide great personal responses or opinions. For this, we recommend structuring your answers using the PEEP format: Point, Explanation, Examples, Personal experience/opinion.

Here’s how it works.

For instance, the examiner asks: “Do you think children should do chores and help out around the house?”

Using PEEP, you can easily structure a response as shown below.

  • Point: “Yes, I think children should do chores and help out around the house.”
  • Explanation: “The reason for that is because it teaches them responsibility from a young age, and contributes to their growth as individuals. Also, it helps them to better appreciate the work their parents and older siblings put into maintaining a clean and comfortable home.”
  • Examples: “For example, if a child is taught to do the dishes every other day, he’s less likely to take that task for granted now that he knows how much work it can be. This helps him to develop a sense of responsibility and ownership which will be carried over into his adult life.”
  • Personal experience/opinion: “Personally, I enjoy helping out around the house, especially folding clothes. It makes me feel like I’m contributing to the family. Also, it makes me realise that when each family member does his or her part, the home becomes a very comfortable place.”

Last but not least, be sure to smile during the conversation, and thank the examiner before leaving the table. This helps to show your appreciation for the examiner’s time and attention and lets you leave them with a good impression.

Read our article on Primary vs. Secondary English: The key differences you need to know next!

Exam Preparation
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