Leaving Cert Orals: How to avoid the most common errors

The orals are approaching..here are my tips for avoiding the most common mistakes in oral exams!

  • Master the correct tenses:

This sounds relatively simple but is imperative to a good result. If you struggle with understanding the question, use the strategy of concentrating on picking out the verb in the question and then understanding it.  If this fails, concentrate on understanding “prochain” (next) “dernier” (last). For example, consider the question “qu’est-ce-que vous ferez l’été prochain? . »  Pick out the « ferez » or the « prochain» and this indicates that this question will require the future tense. Similarly, consider the question “Qu’est-ce-que vous avez fait le weekend dernier?” If you manage to pick out either « avez fait » or « dernier » you’re on the right track to understanding that it’s  about the past tense.


  • Develop your answers

Consider the oral exam’s similarities with a normal conversation. If you asked somebody about their family, you expect more information than “I have one brother.” Be prepared to develop your answers. For example, when discussing siblings, make sure to note their age, what they do and if you get along well with them. This strategy shows confidence in the language and also will help you in your communication marks. Similarly, if asked to say your age make sure that you mention your birthday. I have a post on this here.

  • Master the correct pronunciation of words

As a French teacher listening to students complete oral work, it is extremely frustrating to hear students frequently mispronounce words. What makes it even more irritating that the words mispronounced are usually basic words that should have been learned with the correct pronunciation in first year. Some repeat offenders are missing the silent “e” at the end of verbs (for example- je regarde is simple pronounced as “regard”) or the “ent” at the end of  plural verbs (for example “sortent” is pronounced “sort”). Also remember that “et” is prouncounced as “ay”. Watching French videos will help you with this.The website ttsreader.com is really useful for this. I have a post on this here.

  • Don’t be afraid!

I would consider the oral exam one of the most doable aspects of the Leaving Cert French paper because students already know a lot of what to expect in the exam- a gift not granted from the written paper. Be confident in your abilities and the knowledge that the examiner will help you as much as possible- if you are struggling with one topic, the examiner will recognise this and change the subject.


Bon courage!


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