Some last minute tips and thoughts about what some of you face on the day of your exam.


When you go in to your Spanish Leaving Cert Oral and the examiner asks ¿Qué tal? as well as answering, be polite and ask them how they are! But remember to ask in the usted form: Muy bien gracias ¿y Usted?

Are you a fidgeter? Hold your own hand to make yourself feel better! Either on your lap, or on the table in front of you. Let yourself make hand gestures, then come back to holding your own hand. It makes you feel steadier in yourself, and it doesn’t distract the examiner.

Breathe! Take deliberate, deep breaths through your nose into your belly before you answer a question. As well as helping with nerves, it buys you time to see where you’re going to go with this question, and how you’re going to structure your answer.

Take 21 minutes to watch this TED talk by Amy Cuddy about how to make yourself more comfortable and confident in your own presence before going into a stressful situation such as your Leaving Cert oral exam. It’ll take you your 20 minute tea break this evening to watch, and only 2 minutes to put into practice before your exam.

Allow yourself a 5 minute postmortem, then move on. Don’t hang around the exam area, endlessly going over what you said and what the examiner said. You can’t change it, and you’ll only be making the other candidates nervous. Every exam is different, and just because the examiner asked one person about the school rules doesn’t mean they’ll ask you that question too.

The Spanish examiners are on your side! They really are. Most of them are current teachers – they have left their own students to examine you. Although it may be hard to believe, they know exactly what you are going through and they feel for you and want you to do your best.

Try to view this as a conversation (more or less) where the examiner wants to know everything about your life! Let them see who you are as a person – expand and give details where possible. Answer every question to the best of your ability. Even if you know you are making mistakes, keep going and get the Spanish out.

The General Conversation lasts 10 minutes, then you are given a randomly selected Roleplay and have a minute to look over it. Hopefully you know it off by heart, anyway give it your best shot and say what you do know, then have your head up at the end so you’re ready and listening for the examiner’s question. Answer it and you’re finished!

By this time tomorrow, some of you will have finished your Leaving Certificate Oral – you’ll have as much as possible of 25% (Higher) or 20% (Ordinary) under your belt as you can. Good luck, stay calm and do your best!

If you’re new to the site and wondering where to start, here’s the compilation post on all things to do with the Spanish Oral Exam. 

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