Benefits to Oral Examinations
Allows direct, dialogic feedback: Oral exams provide instructors with an excellent opportunity to immediately diagnose and correct any major misconceptions. The face to face dialogue, through which this occurs, as well as the high-level, holistic nature of well written oral questions, creates an intense experience conducive to breakthroughs in student understanding of material. For this reason, oral exams are well suited for final exams, giving instructors one last chance to greatly affect student knowledge.
Encourages in-depth preparation: The unique anxiety associated with both public speaking and testing can provide a powerful impetus for student preparation, especially because good oral examination questions will center on synthesis and overall evaluation of material.
Demands different skills: Students are tested frequently, yet those tests are almost exclusively either written essay exams or standardized tests. Rarely do those students more skilled at making an oral argument than a written one get a chance to display their mastery of course content in the format where they display the most acumen.
Valuable practice for future professional activity: Whether they apply to graduate schools or try the job market, most students will find their futures heavily influenced by brief, stress-filled oral interviews for which they have received little preparation. Oral exams can help students to develop the necessary ability to remain collected while cogently answering difficult questions.
Reduced grading stress:Oral examinations can require severe schedule juggling and the sacrifice of some additional time by the instructor so that each student has an available time to take the test. However, as long as time is taken beforehand to carefully choose grading criteria and design a rubric, these exams offer many of the advantages associated with essay exams, such as developing skill in organization, synthesis, evaluation, and critical thinking, with much less grading hassle.