Test Taking Skills

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Oral Examinations

Performance with oral examination formats is most influenced by:

  • Self-confidence

  • Organizational Skills

  • Verbal Fluency

  • Communication Style

Students who are well-prepared and have confidence in their abilities will perform better. Anxiety and self-doubt detract from performance, even though the knowledge and ability is there. Effective communication with proper use of terminology and pronunciation, given with style, will improve scores.

Preparation includes studying the material to be tested, of course. Preparation for this type of examination requires knowledge of the format, so read explanatory materials and guides provided. If examples are available, watch them. Practice performing a presentation for this type of examination. Speaking in a pressure situation is daunting. One method: approach it as an actor would approach playing a character in a play.


Houston JE, Smith EV Jr. Relationship of candidate communication and organization skills to oral certification examination scores. Eval Health Prof. 2008;31(4):404-18.

Raymond MR, Luciw-Dubas UA. The second time around: accounting for retest effects on oral examinations. Eval Health Prof. 2010;33(3):386-403.

Rowland-Morin PA, Burchard KW, Garb JL, Coe NP Influence of effective communication by surgery students on their oral examination scores. Acad Med. 1991;66(3):169-71.

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