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?



Reported Speech

Reported Speech or Indirect Speech

What is reported speech?

Reported speech is paraphrasing what people said. It is also known as indirect speech.

  • e.g. Paul said, “I study law.”
    • Reported speech =  Paul said (that) he studied law.
    • In English the ‘that’ is optional. Most French people might prefer to use ‘that’ because it resembles indirect speech in French.

The words within the quotations marks ” ” are direct speech. In reported speech we don’t use any quotation marks because we are paraphrasing (or reporting) what the person said.

Reported Speech Chart

Reported speech changes based on what verb tense the person uses. The following is a reported speech explanation chart. It shows what verb tense you need to use when you report it. The chart also provides a direct speech example,and a reported speech example.

Direct Speech Direct Speech Example Reported Speech Reported Speech Example
Simple present “I study English.” Simple past He said he studied English.
Present continuous “I am studying English.” Past continuous He said he was studying English.
Simple past “I studied English.” Simple past


Past perfect

He said he studied English.


He said that he had studied English.

Past continuous “I was studying English.” Past perfect continuous He said he had been studying English.
Simple future “I will study English.” Will changes to Would He said he would study English.
Future continuous “I will be studying English.” Will changes to would He said he would be studying English.
Present perfect “I have studied English.” Past perfect He said he had studied English.
Present perfect continuous “I have been studying English.” Past perfect continuous He said he had been studying English.
Past perfect “I had studied English.” Past perfect He said he had studied English.
Past perfect continuous “I had been studying English.” Past perfect continuous He said he had been studying English.

Why do you need to know reported speech?

You need to use reported speech for some oral exams. In the  listening component, you might have to explain to the examiner what happened in an audio conversation. That is the part where you will need to use reported speech.

Here is an example of an audio clip you could hear in an exam.

After you heard the audio the assessor would ask you to report what happened in the sound clip.

How have you used reported speech?