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Depending on the exam board, your speaking test could include many different elements - presentations, questions on a topic, general conversation, roleplay, even interpreting. It might be with a teacher or a visiting examiner. It might be marked on the spot, or it might be sent away.

Whatever format your exam takes, you can still find plenty of good tips to support you.

Know what you actually have to do. Do you know the answer to the following questions?


When is the exam? Orals are usually before study leave and the rest of A-Levels but the dates are often chosen by your school. (This may not seem important but if you've got other exams such as art or music practicals, or even another language, or you've got commitments such as University open days, for example, then you need to sort something out).

  • What exactly does my exam involve?
  • How long does the exam last?
  • What section comes first?
  • And then?
  • How many marks are there/how long is it for each section?
  • What percentage of the overall A-Level is based on the oral?
  • Who is examining my oral?
  • Do I have to mention France?
  • Do I have to ask the examiner questions - if so, how many and in which section?
  • Do I get preparation time?
  • If so, can I use a dictionary? (Almost certainly 'no' at A-Level).
  • Can I choose my topic?
  • Can I do the same topic for my speech as I did for my coursework/mock?
  • What happens if my speech overruns the allowed time?
  • What if I don't understand a question?
  • Can I say I don't want to talk about a particular topic if I'm really not interested in it?
  • How many times can I do this?
  • What can I be asked about- is it only related to France or will I get general questions (for example, Northern Ireland, Single European Currency and GM crops)?
  • How much are they looking for factual knowledge and how much are they marking the language?
  • Are opinions important?
  • If something is in the news that morning (for example, political scandals or sports results) is it likely to feature in the exam?

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