How to do a great explanation for an oral exam

explanation for an oral examHave you ever had problems structuring your arguments?

Well I know many of my students have had this exact problem, so this post is about creating a great explanation.

Let’s dive into it.

Parts of your explanation

The best explanations have structure. They are the best because they are easy to follow and develop their points well.

Here is how I structure an explanation every time. I use the same method, so I don’t have to think about how to structure my argument

Also, it reduces the amount of time that I think about how to explain something and allows me to focus solely on what I am going to say.


  • Restate the question.
  • Make a statement from the question
  • Outline your points that you’re going to talk about.
  • Transition into body.


  • Transition from introduction.
  • State my first point.
  • Explain my first point using what, why and how.
  • Transition into my second point
  • Explain my second point using what, why and how.
  • Transition into my third point.
  • Explain my third point using what, why and how.
  • Transition to conclusion.


  • State your points and bring it back to your main question.

What does this sound like?

Here is a video for you to watch.


I know for some people this seems easy, but for many it’s not.

Knowing how to create an explanation is only part of it. The other part is being able to do it. If you can’t put what you learn into action, then it is useless.

Things to avoid

  • Long pauses. A short pause is acceptable, but a long pause indicates you probably don’t know what you want to say or how to say it.
  • Filler words. Try to avoid words like “um” and “uh” they don’t add to your argument. This is very hard to do, but if you can reduce them, your explanation will become clearer.
  • Not pronouncing your “s.” This is something that many French people have problems. Make sure you pronounce the endings of words.

Final thoughts

If you use the same set up every time, you won’t have to think about it when you do an explanation.

How to prepare for the PSC language exam (SLE test)

how to prepare for the els language exam pscHow to prepare for the PSC language exam is largely dependent upon what you already know. The more you already know, the easier it is.

However, you need some guidance to help you.

In this post I will point out some resources for you to prepare for your PSC language exam.

Oral exam

Remember when you’re doing the oral exam you need to explain what, why and how. The how part isn’t necessarily the most important, but what and why are. So focus on what and why.

The better you can use things like good transition words and conditionals, the more likely you are to be seen as a competent English speaker. That means you’re more likely to get a C.

Here is a list of PSC language oral exam resources for you:

Writing exam

Remember when you doing the writing exam that they will try to trick you by putting words in English that are a direct translation from French.

So it is important to know the difference between, what is right in French and what is right in English.

Here is a list of ps language written exam resources for you:


Final thoughts on how to prepare for the PSC language exam

I hope you found this post helpful, and it gives you an idea how to prepare for the PSC language exam.

If you found this post helpful, share with somebody who has a PSC language exam coming up.

Sample oral test questions

Some oral test questions for ESL tests
photo by Nemo on pixabay

Students often ask me about oral test questions, so I  will take this opportunity to give you a few sample questions that you might see on an  oral exam.

Typically, the types of questions you will see are about work. One quick tip that you might want to know is to  remember your job vocabulary. The questions are about your job, and not knowing your job vocabulary is very dangerous when it comes to doing a test.

The following oral test questions are what you would see for the PSC oral test. However, you can see these types of questions for any oral exam for English as a second language learners.

As a quick reminder there are four parts to the PSC oral exam

  • Part one: consists of simple questions about your job.
  • Part two: consists of audio conversations and audio voice mail messages. You have to listen to these messages and report what they said. Therefore, knowing reported speech is very important.
  • Part three: You get three options and you choose one of the options. Then you have 90 seconds to prepare an answer to  the question you chose. It  is important to practice your listening skills because the evaluator will read you the question and you will not see it.
  • Part four: not everybody gets to part four. Part four consists of long audio conversations. Again, it is important to know reported speech.
Check out PSC exam outline here.

Sample questions part one

  • Where do you work?
  • Where is your office?
  • What is your position?
  • What do you do in your job?
  • What organization do you work for?
  • What is the role of your organization?
  • How does your job affect Canadians?
  • Where is your building located?
  • What is your schedule?
  • Do you like your work schedule?
  • At what point in the year are you the busiest?
  • Which tools do you  use at work?

Sample questions for part two

You will hear questions like:

  • What is the reason for the call?
  • What was the problem?
  • What was the solution?

Because these questions are all related to the audio you will hear, is important that you practice your listening skills. If you want to practice your listening skills, try listening to the news. Some places that you can listen to use are places like CBC, BBC and CNN.

Check out my recommended links for places where you can practice your listening skills now.

Sample questions for part three

  • Describe a leadership role which you have held.
  • Describe a situation when you have helped someone at work.
  • Describe how you obtained your current position.
  • Describe how you resolved  a problem at work.
  • Describe the project in which you put a great deal of effort forth.
  • Describe a situation in which you received feedback from someone.
  • Describe a unique person with whom you have worked.
  • Describe a good leader with whom you have worked.
  • What do you think of flex hours?
  • Compare flex hours to compressed hours?
  • What are three characteristics of a great manager?
  • What do you like about your position? And why?
  • Describe an occasion when you met the deadline because you had a great team and a great boss.

 Sample question part four

The questions  asked in part four are typically questions about opinion. They opinion will usually be about the audio file that you have heard on the computer.

  • What did you think about the decision that was made in the audio file?
  • Do you agree with the decision?
  • What would you have done?
What questions would you add?