Criteria for Oral Exams

I - Content

  • Make sure the facts you present are correct. The information you present should always be accurate.
  • Offer details. Avoid superficiality.
  • Keep to the point. The information you present should be relevant for the topic. Avoid digressions.
  • Use linking devices and connectives to make your presentation look and sound coherent.

 II - Strategy

  • Keep to your line of argument!
  • Your speech should be well-structured, there needs to be some kind of logical progression.
  • Make your argumentation convincing. Instead of presenting faulty arguments, focus on valid points.
  • Use your notes Don’t look at them permanently.
  • Respect the code of politeness.

III - Speaking Style and Delivery

  • Speak naturally, without affectation. You also shouldn’t sound too formal, as in a written report. Avoid slang.
  • Speak fluently, don’t pause. Don’t interrupt yourself too often and don’t stop in the middle of a sentence.
  • Use rhetoric devices and imagery.
  • Don’t overuse fillers like “you know” or “kind of”.
  • Avoid “ums” and “ers”.

IV - Body Language

  • Your body language should be smooth, natural and appropriate. Don’t fidget with your hands and don’t tilt your chair.
  • Maintain eye contact for 80% of the time. Avoid staring though!
  • Check your facial expressions. Put on a friendly smile rather than maintaining a grim look all throughout the exam.
  • Speak clearly. Don’t swallow any syllables.
  • Vary your speaking rate. Go faster when you are passionate or slow down when you’re covering an important point.
  • Be confident, but not arrogant. Make sure you look relaxed and show you’re in full control of the situation.

V - Language

  • The vocabulary you use should be varied – avoid repetition, use synonyms instead.
  • It should also be appropriate in this particular context.
  • Use correct grammar. Don’t make too many grammatical mistakes.
  • Don’t use extremely simple language. A certain level of complexity is always appreciated.
  • Check for stress, modulation and intonation. Avoid monotony.
  • Speak English. Don’t use your native language at all. Instead of resorting to your mother tongue, show how flexible you can be and paraphrase the word in question.

VI - Media

  • Whenever you use media, all equipment must be prepared and tested well ahead of time. Rehearse your speech to avoid technical problems.
  • Use media not only for decoration, but to support your speech.

VII - Cooperation (Partner and group exams)

  • Make your presentation interactive. Respond to what your partners say, don’t just take turns talking about your respective topics
  • Turn-taking is also important. Find ways how to feed each other lines.
  • Make active efforts to include all participants. Whenever participants can’t go on speaking, be prepared to assist them.
  • Make sure there is a balance between all participants. Neither part should be dominant.
  • The presentation needs to be well-coordinated among the speakers. Speaking roles must be clear, everyone needs to keep to their line of argument.