Oral versus Written examination

Nowadays we have different ways of investigation of student’s knowledge: two of them are oral and written examinations. Both they have advantages and disadvantages and differ at all, but what is the best form of checking student’s ability, knowledge and skills?


Oral and written examinations have much bigger differences then common features. At first glance the written examination seems to be easier for student – you have more time for preparing, rallying your thoughts, you have the chance of cheating and copying the information from the textbook – that’s all advantage. From the other hand it is very difficult to put in words your thoughts when the time is limited. If you didn’t learn some theme and you happened to take the examination card with this question, it would be impossible to trick your teacher by using many words for describing what you didn’t know. Sometimes the opposite thing happens – you know the term but having forgotten its bookish definition, you try to write it with your own words, but eventually your answer is not considered as the right one. As concerns the oral examination you have no time for preparation at the best two – three minutes for collecting your thoughts and planning your speech. You are not able of cheating. An oral examination is a lively conversation between a teacher and a student; it is more stressful then a written exam. Often confusion grasps the student and he stumbles through the answer in the hope that soon it will be the end of his suffering. The main rule here is to be confident, speak clearly and a lot, even if you don’t know. The greatest advantage of the oral examination is to check thoroughly student’s knowledge by asking extra questions.
To sum up oral and written examinations are good in their own way.

In a live debate, the following were a few responses over: oral or written examination?-which one do you prefer?

“In my opinion both topics have their own meaning and both depend upon environment. Both have advantages and disadvantages. When we talk about an oral test, there is no doubt that this method is quick to get feedback of students on a particular topic along with checking their knowledge and communication skills. But I think in an oral test we would not be able to ask the same question to all the students, so we are not able to get a feedback from all the students on similar topics, secondly there are a number of students who know the answer very well but are not able to explain it orally. Besides when we talk about the written test, it is good as compared to an oral test. One and the main reason for this is that it improves the students writing skills and we are even able to get a feedback from all the students on the same set of questions. Because in the board examination (according to the examination pattern) the marks are given to you for what you write and not for what you speak (oral test). I think both the topics have impact on the student’s life and both should be tried to be implemented on the students in school life.”

“Oral test is the better than the written test. But the only disadvantage is the absence of a test of the communication skills of all the students, which may give an incomplete result about the knowledge of the student. Oral test increases the will power of the individual to face all the problems confidently because while appearing for an oral exam a student has to face one or more than one examiner, which makes the student instill confidence in his/her approach to a question/problem. The students should have the presence of mind to answer the questions. Only the presence of mind makes the individuals to act according to the problems in a right way in the right situation. The written mode of examinations is not as efficient as an oral test in which only the memory power of the students can be assessed.”

“Both forms of examination are important. In the absence of any one, a total examination of a student’s knowledge is incomplete. Oral examinations are important to judge the communication skills of a student, whereas written examinations are important to judge the writing skills of the student. Both these skills make for a completion of the judgement of a student’s knowledge.”

P.S. : add your views in the comment box to add to the debate.


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