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Anybody else hate oral exams?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I spent all day on the examining board for state-accredited foreign-language secretaries and translators. The written exams are difficult, especially for translators, but the oral exams are just pure agony. I really feel like I'm torturing these people, and can never sleep the night before. They're so nervous that they can't think straight. One translator gave an excellent explanation of "checks and balances" and described the whole appointment process for cabinet members, correctly mentioning that they can't be members of Congress while acting as secretaries, but then couldn't say how the German cabinet differed (ministers are taken from the governing parliamentary coalition), although she's German and even studied law here! Sometimes the kids actually cry. It's horrible, and I'm completely drained. The good news is that all of the candidates passed today, although two of them only managed to by the skin of their teeth! I've been trying to get out of doing this for years, but the Department of Education refuses to let me off the hook. If it's this bad for me, just think how horrible it is for the people being tested!
post #2 of 8
I don't know about oral exams, but I've never had such troubles with my English. Although I can't start to imagine answering questions in English under such pressure. That is translators from English and German?
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Yes, German and English. Yesterday the same people were tested in German and Spanish. They have to do two foreign languages in order to take the state exams. The foreign-language secretaries had to talk about a business topic for ten minutes in English/Spanish, and then translate an English/Spanish text of about 250 words into German. The translators had to discuss politics, the global economy, current events, etc., in the foreign language for 20 minutes, and then translate texts in both directions, i.e., from German into English/Spanish (economic text), and then from English/Spanish into German (political text).
post #4 of 8
It is sooooooooooo long since I sat an oral exam, but the mere thought brings on a cold sweat. I'll take a written exam ANY day, but put me in front of the examiner, and expect me to speak coherently, and I'm TOAST. AARGH!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
It's torture, right?
post #6 of 8
For me, it is. My mind just goes blank, and it doesn't matter how well I know my stuff, it's gone, and I'm an idiot. The spoken word, especially if there is any element of uncertainty in the situation, is just not my forte. But give me a written question, especially one that I can come back to, if I need to ponder it, and I'll have a fine time feeding you whatever I know on the subject, carefully worded and nuanced.

I guess some people "think on their feet" better than others. I'm not one of them.
post #7 of 8
I hate the night or day before the oral exam but not the exam per se. All the preparation and stuff really is terrible. I do kind of well during oral type examinations or at least once the test begins you are no longer really nervous.

What sometimes gets me irritated is when you are facing more than one person and for some reason (just to test you I guess) after one tester asks the question before you are allowed to answer, you are asked another question by the other tester. Then you have to be all polite and gently tell the second person you will get to them but first you would deal with the first question. The worst is when each of the questions by each tester are really long so you have to keep them all in your mind (which is a bit difficult) or rather quickly jot down each of their points raised (My preferred option). If not they will accuse you of not answering all their concerns.
post #8 of 8
I distinctly remember during my undergraduate work having to play the recorder for the professor in a Music Education course. It was not a pretty sight.
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