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Everything You Need To Know Before Your Oral Examinations

Everything You Need To Know Before Your Oral Examinations

Danielle Mahoney
Orals 2022 Advice: What To Know Before Your Oral Examinations

And just like that, the Leaving Cert is within touching distance and it’s time to start ticking off a few exams.

The Oral Examinations can feel so intimidating, but they’re actually grand. As nervous as you might feel, it’s actually a good thing to have an examiner in the room with you and interact with them IRL instead of just being an anonymous exam number on paper, this is your chance to show them what you can do and bag some LC points before you even set foot in the exam hall.

Here’s some advice on how to smash the 2024 Orals…

Advice For 2024 Orals

Remember It’s A Conversation

My number one piece of advice when it comes to the 2024 Orals is to remember to have a conversation. The whole point of the Oral exams is to have a natural conversation in the language. If you’re nervous, tell them so (in the language you’re being tested in). React like you would if you were interacting with someone else outside in the world. There’s a temptation to go robotic, but keep things natural and light.

Listen to what they are asking you, nod as they talk, sit up straight, smile and make eye contact. Be confident, even if you have to fake that.

If you are unsure or didn’t hear the question, just ask them to repeat the question. Better to ask again than sit in silence.

The Examiner Is On Your Side

The way the State examinations are hyped from the second your set foot in the door at secondary school, we’re kinda led to believe that examiners are the big bad who are out to get us; they are not. They are real people, this is their job and they are rooting for you to do well.

I remember shaking with nerves going into my orals, you’d swear I had an appointment with the guillotine. My Irish one was grand. Admittedly, I wasn’t too worried about what would be thrown at me – I went to a gaelscoil, so I was confident that I could handle the conversation – I still got thrown a random question about what was in my garden and kinda blanked, but I worked my way out of it. I don’t remember the rest of my oral, but I remember that question.

My German Oral was another story. Dear reader, I was terrible at German. God love my teacher, she knew that and tried her best with me. I had to work supper hard on my German even in Ordinary Level. I was nearly crying going into the German Oral with nerves. The examiner was super lovely and reassuring, but disaster struck midway through when she turned off the CD recording us and told me I was speaking fluent Irish without knowing it – I nearly died! The panic just took over me and I went default into Irish. She told me to take a few minutes to compose myself and then she turned it back on. I’m pretty sure that I kept throwing a cupla focal in here and here, but I made in through it. At the end when she said auf Wiedersehen I said slán, I kid you not. I got a B1 in OL which I was delighted with. My mishap just shows that the examiners are on your side and they want you to do well. And even if it goes a bit sideways, you will have a story to tell in the years to come.

Take It Slow

I know it’s tempting to want to vomit all the words out and get it over with, but take a deep breath and take your time. I don’t know about you but sometimes my head runs at a 100 miles an hour and my mouth struggles to keep up and just starts panicking and I just start saying random things. Take your time and collect your thoughts before answering any questions.

Don’t Over Focus Too Much On What Other People Get Asked

Of course you’re going to be asking people who’ve gone before you what they got asked, but don’t start painic cramming for the same questions, chances are you’re conversation will go a different way.

Practise With Friends

Have a few casual practise sessions with friends and just chat in the language. Don’t get hung up on getting everything right, but just get a feel for the language without class pressures. Again, the point of the Orals is being able to have a conversation as naturally as possible.

You’re In Control of The Conversation Too

Yes, the examiner is the one who is asking the questions, but you can kinda steer the conversation too. Have 2-3 things you’d like to talk about and try navigate the conversation that way. Examiners ask followup questions, so if you say something interesting, they will ask a question about it. I think I ended up with the garden question because I had mentioned moving from the town to the countryside and said I liked having more space and a bigger garden, which is how I got the follow up question about what was in my garden – I said my two dogs, in case you were wondering.

Immerse Yourself In The Language

There are so many ways to listen to languages now, from TG4 (great that they have English subtitles!), to Radio na Gaeltachta, movies and language videos on Youtube. Pop a few of them on and just listen and try to absorb as much as you can.

See Also

Put The Pages of Notes Away

I don’t know about you but I had folders of notes for my languages and the pressure to learn off paragraphs of text was just too much. Irish in particular is taught completely wrong in schools, it’s a beautiful language but most people end up hating it because of school. I used to get really panicked having to learn things off by heart and I think that just freaks people out more because they feel like they have to stick to a script. You’re not an actor in a play, you’re going in to show off how much you know and after years of study and hard work you do know lots more than you think.

Streamline your notes before the exam and just use it to jog your memory beforehand. Have a few key phrases that will impress the examiner and a few things that you struggle with, but keep it simple. If you try overload yourself it will feel like a bigger task than it actually is.

No Postmortems

Easier said than done, I know, but once you get out of the room that’s it, it’s over. You officially have part of your LC exams done and dusted. Be proud of yourself.

And just some advice, don’t freak out other people who still haven’t had their Oral yet. Be positive and tell them it’s grand, because that’s what you’d want. And also, avoid the drama queens (every year has them!) who will just freak you out before.

The very best of luck with your Oral exams. You’ll live to tell the tale and just think, the finishing line is in sight.

Have you any advice for the 2024 Orals? Let us know over on our Instagram!

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