Unconventional Tips to Nail Your Oral Exam

Unconventional Tips to Nail Your Oral Exam
Credit: Marcia Romeo

Credit: Marcia Romeo

Are you feeling stressed out?

It's only natural to feel a bit of stress. You might feel a bit stupid doing it, but try out standing in power poses for five minutes before the exam. Studies show that standing or sitting in a powerful pose will make you feel more confident - and it signals confidence to your examiners. 

Another great tip is to breathe. Take deep, long breaths in your nose, count to four, and breathe slowly out your mouth. This type of breathing will calm your nervous system, and make you feel more relaxed. And you'll get a lot of oxygen to your brain.

Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses

Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses

Working out will also help you eliminate the extra adrenaline and cortisole that stress might cause to your system. When you get stressed out, your brain thinks a tiger is attacking you - so run it out! You'll feel much better. And if you do the running and the breathing, it might help you get a good night's sleep as well. Win-win.

Sing your favorite song! Before the exam, that is.

Using your voice to sing a song before the exam might help you relax, but the important thing is to warm up your voice, so you get through loud and clear. This is particularly important with Zoom and Teams! You could also talk to yourself or practice your stuff.

Zoom or Teams tips

If you have your oral exam online, try to find out what works best for you. Are you going to be standing up or sitting down? Find the spot you'd like to sit (or stand) in and rig your computer or device there. Practice talking to your computer, and maybe try recording yourself. 

If you are doing a presentation, send a disposition to your examiners before the examination. It might even help you take control of the exam because they are more likely to ask into the presentation when having an overview. 

Credit: Dylan Ferreira

Credit: Dylan Ferreira

Dress professional 

Even though your exam might be from your home, it is not an excuse for not dressing up. Looking nice and clean makes you look professional and confident and will make your examiners take you seriously.

 

Remember your body language.

Your body language is essential in an oral exam. Sit or stand up tall. Use calm and confident movements. If your hands are shaking, try holding a pen in your hand. It might help to hold on to something, so you're not clasping your hands behind your back or folding them over your chest - that will disconnect you from your audience. 

Remember to look examiners in the eyes while talking. If you have your exam over Zoom or Teams, remember to look into your camera lens. That's how you look the examiners in the eye. 

During the exam, remember to talk slow and clear - do not rush it! Rushing signals that you are nervous, and it is harder for the examiners to understand you. 

If you need to buy some time answering a question, look up, not down. Looking up indicates that you are trying to remember, and looking down signals that you don't know the answer. 

Credit: Brooke Lark

Credit: Brooke Lark

Be prepared!

This one is a bit obvious but important. If you are allowed assistive devices, have them ready. If you are starting with a pitch or presentation - practice! You should not be reading it up from a piece of paper. Read it out loud until you got it. Then write some keywords down to help you remember. If you are picking a topic, prepare how you will respond to the different issues. This will help you seem more confident, even if you can't get through them all. 

And, hey - remember it is only an exam. It does not define who you are.

You got this!