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S/O Oral Exams

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A couple of posters mentioned oral exams in the alternative assessments thread.


I would like to know more about how you have implemented these, if you are inclined to share :)


I am in the EU, and oral exams are prevalent. I do not have personal experience with them, but am eager to add them into our assessment toolbox.

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DD passed several oral exams in grade 8, and have to pass at a higher level in grade 12.

Oral exams in Flanders are mostly language exams.

Exam topics at an A2 level are:

- going to the doctor

- going to the grocerys

- discuss with friends how to spend the night

- discuss a book (YA type)


Exam topics at an B2 level are:

-  to sell / buy an appartment

- interview for job apllication / internship

- persuade friends to visit your favourite holiday spot not theirs

- again going to the doctor but with more complicate illnes / vocab

- discuss literature


For non Language oral exams dd had to do a project / research at home, to presentate it  at the exam and answer questions about it,  using subject related vocabulair.

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Now that I think about it, I guess I do have some experience with oral exams - I have taken the Danish ones!  :blushing:


I am not sure how to structure them for other subjects.



Edited by Penguin
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Growing up in Germany, I had oral exams both for my high school exit exams and in college.

They are done either as single exams or small group exams.

In math and physics, student is asked to work out problems or prove relationships on piece of paper in front of examiner (or on the board if group of examiners) and narrate solution, basic definitions and theorems, explain concepts or important experiments, discuss conceptual questions.

Foreign language:

often, student receives a prompt before exam and has a few minutes to sketch out a short monologue. Exam is conducted in the foreign language, conversation with examiner, if two students, conversation between the students.


student may receive piece of literature a few minutes before the exam to read and then during exam student is asked to interpret similes, point out stylistic measures - the kind of thing that they here present in a multiple choice format, but without being given options,

Music final:

I had to prepare a song to sing, discuss its history and relevance in context, was given a listening test to identify piece/composer, and if I recall correctly answer some music history questions.


ETA: basically, you can do everything in an oral that you can do in a written exam - with the exception of a longer essay.

The biggest advantage is that the examiner quickly finds out whether the student knows something about a particular topic and can then move on to probe other content areas; this way, a much broader scope is possible which is good if a student has a gap in only one area but is well versed in the others; this might not have been found out in a written test because that is rigid and allows for no adaptive questioning.

I was in my math final, aiming for an A, together with a student whom they desperately tried to pass... he got a ton of easy question and I kept thinking that I know all this and that there cannot be any questions for me left to answer, LOL. In the end, I got my A and he failed, despite the examiners best effort to unearth some area where he knew just something.


Edited by regentrude
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