Oral exam



The oral exam (also oral test or '; ' in
German-speaking German ( ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and Official language, official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Ita ...
nations) is a practice in many schools and disciplines in which an examiner poses questions to the student in spoken form. The student has to answer the question in such a way as to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the subject to pass the exam. The oral exam also helps reduce (although it does not eliminate) the risk of granting a degree to a candidate who has had the thesis or dissertation ghostwritten by an expert.


Many science programs require students pursuing a
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin ''baccalaureus'') or baccalaureate (from New Latin, Modern Latin ''baccalaureatus'') is an Undergraduate degree, undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course ...
to finish the program by taking an oral exam or a combination of oral and written exams to show how well a student has understood the material studied in the program. Usually, study guides or a syllabus are made available so that the students may prepare for the exam by reviewing practice questions and topics likely to be on the exam. There is a small but growing body of literature on the use of oral examinations in undergraduate education in the English speaking world. Some
medical school A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians. Such medical degrees include the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, MB ...
s use oral exams for second and third year students to test knowledge but also the ability to respond on the spot. Students are required to take an oral exam prior to being awarded a PhD. Some universities allow the option of either taking written and oral exams or completing a
project A project is any undertaking, carried out individually or collaboratively and possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular goal. An alternative view sees a project managerialism, managerially as a se ...
thesis A thesis (plural, : theses), or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.International Standard Int ...
, but occasionally, all three are required for graduation. Oral exams are distinct from a defense of a thesis in that the questions in the latter are more narrow and specific to the topic of the thesis.
Graduate student Postgraduate or graduate education refers to academic or professional degree A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession, practice, or i ...
s are sometimes allowed to choose their examiners for oral exams. Sometimes, the oral exam is offered in schools as an alternative to a written exam for students with a
learning disability Learning disability, learning disorder, or learning difficulty (British English) is a condition in the brain that causes difficulties comprehending or processing information and can be caused by several different factors. Given the "difficult ...
, like
dysgraphia Dysgraphia is a learning disability of written expression, which affects the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence. It is a specific learning disability (SLD) as well as a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writ ...
developmental coordination disorder Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as developmental motor coordination disorder, developmental dyspraxia or simply dyspraxia from the word 'praxis' meaning to do or act, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaire ...
, or non-verbal learning disorder. Often parents of the students have to request that the oral exam be given to their child in lieu of the written exam. A Private Pilot Oral Exam is also required as part of the FAA and CAA practical test for prospective pilots. An oral exam is also carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the UK for the purpose of issuing certificate of competencies for Merchant Navy deck and engine officers.Application for UK COC Oral Exam
/ref> The ''viva voce'' is a component of music diploma examinations administered by ABRSM,
Trinity College of Music Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance is a music and dance conservatoire based in London, England. It was formed in 2005 as a merger of two older institutions – Trinity College of Music and Laban Dance Centre. The conservatoire has ...
and London College of Music. Candidates are posed a series of questions by the examiner about their chosen pieces, the composer and musical era. Depending on exam board, candidates may also be required to do a short writeup on their pieces.

See also

* Comprehensive examination *
Educational assessment Educational assessment or educational evaluation is the systematic process of documenting and using empirical data on the knowledge, skill, attitudes, aptitude and beliefs to refine programs and improve student learning. Assessment data can ...
Final examination A final examination, annual, exam, final interview, or simply final, is a test (assessment), test given to students at the end of a course of study or training. Although the term can be used in the context of physical training, it most oft ...


Further reading

wiseGEEK: What Is an Oral Exam?

Standardized Oral Examinations. Measurement Research Associates, Inc.
* Crist, Joan and Robinson, Kirk, "Stewards of the Word: Employing Oral Examinations in Required Theology Courses," ''Journal of Catholic Higher Education.'' Summer, 2015.

External links

{{Commons category, Oral examinations Academia School terminology Oral communication School examinations Tests