Everything You Need to Know About the Oral Exams

The oral or spoken exams are a big part of language subjects. In a way, you have been preparing for theme for as long as you have studied the subject. This week’s blog post has some tips on how to prepare for the orals as best as you can.

Dates of the exams

The official dates for the 2020 Leaving Cert oral exams are from Monday 23rd March to Friday 3rd April.
Make sure you check on which particular date of the above your exam is taking place. The sooner you start your preparation, the better.

What do examiners look for?

Ability to have an informal conversation

The topics covered include being able to describe yourself, family, your school, where you live, and hobbies. Those are the type of things you talk about when you’re trying to get to know someone and introduce yourself. Think of it like having a chat, it’s not meant to be formal. You should have a few conversational phrases in your vocabulary.

To practice for this, you could watch some cartoons or a show in the language that you’re studying, something with a bit of dialogue to get yourself familiarised with a conversational tone. You’ll also get your ear used to the language and will be better able to pick up what the examiner is saying when addressing you.

Clear and correct expression

This refers to the structure of your sentences and grammar. Again, you will know how to create sentences from studying for the written exam. A way you could study for this would be to learn off a few sample phrases for each topic to know the structure. Remember to be flexible with these, as the examiner can ask you a question in a different way than the way you studied. This should not make you panic. Just listen carefully, you will know the answer.

Ability to understand questions

Your ability to do this will showcase itself when you answer the question appropriately. To best prepare yourself for this, listen to as much of your studied language as possible. This will help you will your oral, as well as during the listening exam. Again, you can change the language setting on your favourite DVD or look at YouTube videos, record yourself speaking, listen to the CD that accompanies your textbook or even listen to some songs.

What will you be marked on?

Pronunciation and intonation

Practice makes perfect! Make sure you know how to pronounce each word and where does the emphasis lie. At this stage you will know how to pronounce what you wish to say but there still may be some words you struggle with. If you’re not sure of anything, ask your teacher and practice some conversation with a class friend.


This applies to the entirety of your language exam. Your aural and written exams will also test this. The oral exam is just another chance for you to show off your skills!

Structure and grammar

Again, this applies to your ability to form sentences. What’s most important to remember is that you never answer either yes or no to a question. For example, if the examiner asks if you play any sport and you don’t, don’t just say ‘no’. Instead tell them that you don’t play sports but you spend your free time playing an instrument. Seize the opportunity to talk about something you are prepared for.

Good luck!
Everything You Need to Know About the Oral Exams
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