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The oral exam (also oral test or viva voce) is a practice in many schools and disciplines, where an examiner poses questions to the student in spoken form. The student has to answer the question in such a way as to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the subject in order to pass the exam.
Many science programs require students pursuing a bachelor's degree to finish the program by taking an oral exam or a combination of oral and written exams in order to show how well a student has comprehended the material studied in the program. Usually study guides or a syllabus are made available so that the students may prepare for the exam by reviewing practice questions and topics likely to be on the exam.
Some medical schools use oral exams for 2nd and 3rd year students, not just to test knowledge, but the ability to respond on the spot. Students are required to take an oral exam prior to being awarded a PhD. Some universities allow the option of either taking written and oral exams, or completing a project or thesis, but occasionally all three are required for graduation. Oral exams are distinct from a defense of a thesis in that the questions in the latter are more narrow and specific to the topic of the thesis.
Graduate students are sometimes allowed to choose their examiners for oral exams.
Sometimes the oral exam is offered in schools as an alternative to a written exam for students with a learning disability, like dysgraphia, developmental coordination disorder, or non-verbal learning disorder. Often the parents of the students have to request that the oral exam be given to their child in lieu of the written exam.
- wiseGEEK: What Is an Oral Exam?
- Standardized Oral Examinations. Measurement Research Associates, Inc.
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