Paper 4 Oral Communication

Oral Examination Format

  1. Video based question
  2. Personal Reflective question
  3. Persuasive Question
  • 10 mins to watch the video provided and plan a response to a question
  • Focus on the activity and/or the people for the 1st question
  • Brainstorm on broad possible topics that might arise
  • Prepare personal experiences as possible responses to such topics
1. Planned Response (15 marks)
  • Focus: 
    • 2-minute presentation of answer
    • Focus on Activity:
      • Would you want to participate? What do you think is happening? What do you think they are doing? How do you think they are feeling? 
    • Focus on People:
      • What do you think the person on the right is feeling? Thinking? Who do you
        think is … ?
    • There are other variations, but these are the more common variations.
  • Strategy
    • Use about 5-7 minutes of the preparation time to work on this (suggestion)
    • Plan in Point Form (PEERS) or Mindmap
    • Answer question first, followed by PEERS with personal experience.
    • Use the information from the video only as evidence to support your own answer.
    • Minimum – 2 PEERSs / Reasons / Perspective
    • Positive and Negative perspectives or only Positive (suggested)
    • If Negative, give an alternative
      • E.g.: NO I would not like to take part in this activity. This is because…Instead, I
        would rather…
    • Always end well – Don’t end abruptly. You’ve done a good job – land smoothly.
      • All in all / In conclusion / That is why…
      • Final Thoughts on the topic
2. Spoken Interaction (15 marks)
  • Focus: 
    • Personal Response: to give considered and developed personal responses.
      • Considered : Break down the question and Think about your points
      • Developed: Give details, Examples, Opinions
    • Clarity of expression: to express oneself clearly with
      • apt use of vocabulary
      • varied sentence structures
      • use of transitions and
      • proper pronunciation of words
    • Interaction: to engage actively with examiners in a sustained discussion.
      • Actively: Do not wait to be prompted
      • Sustained: Don’t stop for too long
  • Strategy
    • Brainstorm for possible topics first during the 10mins given.
    • Think of personal stories to use in your PEERS answers.
    • Include recent or news events (if possible) to show that you are up to date.
    • Even if you cannot use directly, you can work the stories in AFTER answering the question by leading the conversation
    • Always think before answering the questions. It helps to organize your ideas.
3. Personal Reflective
  • Possible focus: 
    • What
      • Factors, Characteristics
      • Problems / Solutions, Pros and Cons
    • Why
      • Reasons OR Causes
      • Explanations
    • How
      • Methods of doing things
      • Ways to achieve a goal
4. Persuasive
  • More like an argumentative or discursive format
  • Use PEERS format to explain your POINT and how it supports the side you have taken
  • Give at least 1 point from the opposing side to show that you can look at the issue from different angles.
    • E.g.: There are of course those who may suggest / argue that … (opposing view)
    • Acknowledge / Refute this point
  • If you do that, please also present a Rebuttal – bringing it back to your point of view
    • While I acknowledge that there is some truth in this … , it does not take away
      from …
Shaping your Responses


  • State what is the reason / idea / suggestion/ event
  • e.g.: Firstly, I …


  • Tell your listener what you mean.
  • Break it down / simplify / exactly what you mean by your point.
  • Use signal words like “This is because”, “What I mean is”, or get straight to the point.


  • Show your listener what you mean by sharing a story.
  • Personal or real-world, both work!
  • What is more important is that you give details.
  • Use 5W1H to break down your experience in detail.
  • Use transitions like “For example”, “Some time last year”, “A few weeks ago”, “On one


  • Depends on the question
    • What did you realise after this experience?
    • What did it show you?
    • How did it change you?
    • What was your take away?
  • Make sure u keep it related to the topic

Summarise – Link back to your Point. Use transitions like Hence, Therefore, Thus, In this way, As such, …


Suggestion – link back by giving an overview. Perhaps add a recommendation on how things can improve / change or give and alternative.

Repeat this Process with your Next Point.

**Level up – Extend the talk (OPTIONAL)

Go beyond your immediate level – Individual, Community, Country, Local, International.
Give recommendations.

Presentation skills – Do NOT Ignore

Pronunciation and Articulation:

  • Good pronunciation – words are sounded correctly
  • End consonants are heard [e.g. d, t, s, k, p]
    • e.g. first [not ‘firs’]
    • Double ‘s’ [‘mists’ should be pronounced with ‘s’ followed by another ‘s’ sound. It should not sound like ‘misses’, which is an ‘es’ sound]

Clear articulation – not muffled, open your mouth

  • ‘th’ sound [e.g. Tree vs Three]

Rhythm and Fluency:

  • Read with appropriate rhythm and stress
  • Rhythm: Almost like music, there is a beat to reading sentences. Practise with some tongue twisters.
    • e.g. She sells  [ slight pause ] seashells [ slight pause ] on the seashore. [end voice down]
  • Stress: To emphasize certain elements as more important than others
  • e.g. She stole the wallet yesterday.
    • On person: SHE stole the wallet yesterday.
    • On the act: She STOLE the wallet yesterday.
    • On the object: She stole THE WALLET yesterday
    • On time: She stole the wallet YESTERDAY.

a.   to achieve a well-placed, fluent presentation of answers

  • Speed up for action sequence, slow down for emphasis

b.   Appropriate variation of pitch and tone in order to convey the Information, ideas and feelings in the answer.

For the sample of O level questions, click here.