The oral exam for PSLE English has a total of 30 marks and makes up 15% of your overall English Score for PSLE. For students taking O – Level or N(A) – Level, the oral component takes up 30 marks or 20% of your overall English score.
For this blog post, we will be covering the conversation portion.
In this segment, you will be given a picture and you will be asked questions that are related to the picture. The questions will ask for your view or opinion of a certain topic.
Here are some tips to help you to score for your English Oral Exam.
1. Do not give a short reply
The worst thing you can do for your oral examination is to give a short reply for your conversation topic.
Examiner: “Would you prefer to cut your hair at a cheap barber or at a slightly more expensive hair salon?”
Student: “Barbers are cheaper.”
Give long, generous replies for your oral examination. State your view or opinion, explain your view, and elaborate on it. Do not wait for the examiner to prompt you. You should be speaking freely and explaining yourself clearly.
Student: ” I prefer going to the barber because it is cheaper. I don’t think a haircut should cost more than $10. Besides, my hair will just grow out within 3 weeks. If I were to go to a hair salon, I would be charged $30 or more! I can’t imagine spending $30 each time I cut my hair. I don’t even have that much pocket money. I have gone to the same barber for 2 years so he knows what kind of hairstyle I like…”
2. Do not speak in a short burst of phrases
Whenever I practice oral conversations with my students, I notice that they have a habit of speaking in a series of short phrases.
Student: ” I …uhm…I … barbers are better because… erm… cheaper and faster….Hairstylists… wait long…expensive…”
Make sure you speak in full sentences. It is okay to take your time to think of what you want to say before you speak. Even if you speak and pause, make sure you pick up from where you left off and not just stumble on to the next point. That being said, do your best to refrain from saying “uhmm” , “errm” or “ahhhh” when you are pausing to think.
3. No Singlish or slang allowed
We all use Singlish in our daily conversations to connect better with the people around us. It’s okay, nobody will judge you. However, when it comes to your oral examinations, it is time to code switch and speak proper English.
Student: ” Of course I go to the Barber la! Barber cheaper mah! Better than hairstylist! Aiyoh so expensive!”
Speaking like your neighbourhood coffee shop uncle will result in an immediate fail. The examiner won’t even bat an eyelid to give you an ‘F’!
Do also refrain from teenage slang that you may have picked up from television shows or from listening to how your pop celebrities talk.
Student: “So I will, like…go to the hairstylist? Coz the barber is only for old men? I don’t go to any random hairstylist to get a random haircut you know. I will , like, pay $100 to cut my hair… because … YOLO… you know? My friends will leave me if I don’t look swag enough.”
4. Grammar is still important
Somehow when it comes to oral conversations, students throw their grammar out of the window.
Student: “Hairstylists is better because they are train to cuts your hairs in modern way.”
If you speak improper English every day, you may struggle trying to speak grammatically-correct English during your oral exam. Take your time to speak. Do not rush through your words or sentences. Just be aware that you are in an exam, not talking casually to a friend.
5. Express yourself clearly
This seems very obvious but many students still choose to mumble their way through their oral conversations out of habit.
Give your views confidently and be articulate. When I say that you must express yourself clearly, you must also make sure you use the right words for the right purpose.
Student: ” Hairstylists use many different scissors and shavers…and sometimes even clips . They use more stuff than the barber…”
The student here should have just used the words “tools” and not “stuff”. Having a wide vocabulary to express yourself will definitely help.
6. Stay Cool
Panicking is the easiest way to lose marks during your oral exams. Students can panic for a variety of reasons:
– Not prepared
– Had to read a tough passage earlier
– Extremely tough conversation question
– The examiner looks like a troll.
When you find yourself panicking, take a deep breath and calm down. Take your time to gather your thoughts. (I think I’ve said this many times!)
You can ask the examiner to repeat the question again or rephrase it if you still don’t understand. The examiner is there to prompt you if you are stuck, not to watch you suffer and squirm at her questions. Start talking and the words will naturally flow out from you.
Need more advice? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com or call us at 6280 6841.
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By Jerry Lee
Director, English Tutor
Intellicat Tuition School