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{March 6, 2010}   Oral exam stress

Most people experience some kind of anxiety before an oral exam. The trick is to reduce it to a minimum. Read an article offering advice on how to beat stress before an oral exam.

Beating stress

Sometimes feeling confident about an exam means you need to step back and ask yourself a few questions. If you have done successful speaking exams before – think back to them and remind yourself of the things that went well. If you have had a bad experience, analyze the reasons why so that you can avoid it this time. Positive thinking helps. Make a list of all of your achievements so far and go into the exam feeling good about yourself.

By listening! The skills of Listening and Speaking go hand in hand. Watch a DVD, listen to some songs in English, find a radio station on the internet and listen to a chat show. Just as Reading helps to improve your writing, Listening will definitely help your Speaking. If you are alone, try repeating some of the things that you hear; sing along with a song, repeat the lines of one of the characters in the film. This is a good way to improve pronunciation and also pick up some useful expressions.

Obviously this will depend on what time you have your exam. Make sure you have a good night’s sleep the previous night and that you start the day with a healthy breakfast. You might not feel like eating if you are anxious, but skipping a meal is the worst thing you can do. Doing some physical exercise is a good idea too. Go for a walk or a swim. It will help you to take your mind off things and while you are exercising your body you will also be exercising your mind!

You won’t have time to be stressed if you concentrate on the questions. Focus on the examiner and what he or she is asking you. If you miss something, ask them to repeat it. Remember, oral examiners have been in this situation many more times than you! They will be used to nerves. Professional examiners will try to make you feel at ease and comfortable. They have no interest in you failing. They would much prefer to have successful candidates. Smile! If you show a friendly face, the examiner will respond in the same way. It is possible to actually enjoy the experience if the atmosphere is appropriate.

This is a common worry, especially for exams like the FCE where two candidates take the exam together. How much you speak partly depends on you but it is the task of the examiner to make sure that you speak enough. In order for the examiner to be able to give you a grade, you have to speak. He or she has strategies to make sure exam candidates speak enough. If you are speaking too much the examiner will politely stop you and move the exam on.

Stress is a very personal thing and people suffer from it at different times and to varying degrees. Remember that you are not alone in feeling anxious before a speaking exam. You are perfectly normal. So follow the advice and just do your best. Good luck!


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