Nervous About Personal Questions In The Oral Exams? Here’s What You Can Do

Speaking in a different language can be stressful enough without worrying about awkward questions.


When it comes to the oral exams, there can be a lot to remember. You’re most likely doing two languages, Irish and either French, Spanish, German or another foreign language.

This year the orals take place between Monday 23rd March to Friday 3rd April, depending on your area, school and the language.

So while juggling more than one language and grasping the accent, grammar and correct tone, some students deal with another worry – personal questions.

The standard casual questions they make as include things like ‘what does your mother do?’, ‘what does your father do?’, ‘do you get on with your siblings?’ and so on. But as we all know, the nuclear family (a mam, a dad and their kids) isn’t the only type of family that exists.

Between bereavement, divorce, guardians, foster care and lots of other very normal, sometimes complicated circumstances, those questions don’t always apply to every single student in the same way.

So if you’re stressing about telling a stranger in the exam that you don’t live with your parents, your sibling passed away or there’s just something that might upset you, don’t stress. There is a way to make it easier.

Studying can be stressful enough with extra worry

Here’s What To Do: 

The State Examinations Commission who organise and run the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert have revealed that there is a process in place for anything you may not want to speak about.

“Prior to the commencement of the oral tests in a school, the assigned examiner meets with the school management and/or the coordinator of the oral examinations in the school.

“It is expected that this school contact person would brief the examiner on any sensitive issues (personal or otherwise) relating to a particular candidate which may cause upset to the candidate during the oral examination,” The State Examinations Commission said.

“The examiner is instructed to note the details of any such matter pertaining to a particular candidate and to avoid this topic during the conversation section of the oral examination with that candidate. As part of the SEC training of examiners at oral conferences and in the SEC documentation relating to the conduct of the Leaving Certificate oral examination, an examiner is advised not to ask any question of a personal or sensitive nature as part of the conversation.”

So, if you’re worried about a certain personal area you’re not happy to talk about, let your teacher know. Explain to them that you’d rather not talk about it but have practised other areas which you can chat more comfortably about. The teacher will then let the examiner know.

This way, you don’t have to worry about anything that may make you feel uncomfortable and practice and work hard without unnecessary stress.

Best of luck!