Getting ready for the 2016 orals

Wed Feb 10 12:00:00 UTC 2016

This update provides key information on practically everything you need to know to prepare for the forthcoming 2016 oral examinations or controlled speaking assessments.

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You’ll find guidance, links to key information and a series of qualification-specific frequently asked questions.

Timetabling the orals

Need to check the oral window for A level, AS, GCSE, Edexcel Certificate or International GCSE? Not sure of the controlled assessments submission deadline for GCSEs with controlled assessments?

To find out more, please see our oral dates notice.

Please note that formal oral examinations should be conducted on one day only. However, if this is not possible due to a large cohort, you can extend this to consecutive days. You may also allocate different days for different languages being assessed at your school.

GCSE controlled assessments for the speaking unit can be conducted at any time during the GCSE course but must be submitted in the summer of the final year of each course. It is expected that marks submitted for the controlled assessments will generally relate to work carried out in the final year of the GCSE course to capture the progress that your students have made.

Dealing with a language not taught at your school?

If you’re trying to arrange an oral for students in a language that isn’t taught at your school, our information grid should help you. 

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Most qualifications feature compulsory oral units, although GCSE short courses (written language) are available across our suite of GCSE languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu) that only test reading and writing skills. These GCSE short courses may be entered for if it is not possible to locate a suitable interlocutor to conduct orals at your school. 

GCSEs in lesser taught languages (Arabic, Greek, Japanese and Russian)

Watch our support video to find out more about arranging and preparing for GCSE orals in Arabic, Greek, Japanese and Russian. Produced and delivered by a senior examiner of the speaking unit, it provides essential guidance for examinations officers as well as teachers.

We've also produced a slides pdf and linked transcript for your information.

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Crucial documents

In addition to the relevant language specification(s), you must consult the following documents well before conducting the orals.

GCSE Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Urdu

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GCSE Arabic, Greek, Japanese, Russian

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Edexcel Certificate/International GCSE: Chinese, French, German and Spanish

The oral unit is an obligatory part of International GCSE and Edexcel Certificate qualifications in Chinese, French, German and Spanish. 'Instructions for the conduct of the speaking exam' are given in Appendix 3 of the specification. You are also advised to consult the speaking unit sections of the Teacher's Guide. The Teacher's Guide appears under the 'Teacher support materials' category of the relevant language-specific qualification homepage.

International GCSE: English (Second Language)

The oral unit is separate and optional in the International GCSE in English (Second Language) qualification, and does not count towards the overall qualification. The 'Instructions for the conduct of the speaking exam' appear in Appendix 2 of the specification.

AS Chinese 

Please note that the AS oral unit for Chinese does not require a native speaker to conduct the exam as candidates react to a written stimulus. It is suitable both for Mandarin or Cantonese learners. There is no A2 oral examination for Chinese. A non-Chinese speaking invigilator can be appointed at your school to operate the recording equipment and to ensure that the timings and other general regulations are adhered to. Please refer to the following documents:

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A level (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu)

Oral training guides for teachers are also available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu. They include samples of student work (you'll need to click on the loudspeaker icon to access the recordings) and linked examiner commentaries.  

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Visiting examiners for AS and A level students

It is possible to request a visiting examiner to conduct orals at your school. This service is only available for French, German and Spanish if there is a minimum of 10 tests per language. The 10 tests can include a combination of some for AS and some for A2. To request this service, please specify option B when making your candidate entries. There are no longer any separate forms to complete for this. More information is given in the GCE administrative support guide. Please note that this service is not available to international centres.

AS and A level London Centre orals

If there is no teacher at your school to conduct an oral exam, it is possible to enter candidates for GCE orals with a Pearson Edexcel examiner in London. This service is only offered for Russian, Italian, German, Spanish and Urdu. More information is given on page 7 of the GCE administrative support guide.

Key forms for the oral units

GCSE: Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Urdu

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A Word version of the CM2 is available in the 'Forms and Administration' section on the language-specific GCSE homepage of our website.

GCSE: Arabic, Greek, Japanese and Russian

Section A of the Candidate Mark Record Sheet for the Unit 2 oral must be completed. These appear in the 'Forms and Administration' section on the language-specific GCSE homepage.

Edexcel Certificate/International GCSE: Chinese, French, German and Spanish

A candidate cover sheet and a CD insert/USB record sheet appear as Appendices 4 and 5 in the specification.

International GCSE in English (Second Language)

A candidate cover sheet and a CD insert/USB record sheet appear as Appendices 3 and 4 of the specification.

AS Chinese

The digital recording labels and the OR1CN oral form appear in the GCE Chinese administrative support guide (Orals).

A level French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu

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Please note that GCE qualifications in Arabic, Greek and Japanese do not currently feature oral elements.

Other support

Samples of students' controlled speaking assessments and linked assessment commentaries appear on the GCSE homepages for Chinese, French, German, Italian and Urdu. They can be found under the 'Controlled assessments' category. Similarly, examples of student oral unit performances and examiner commentaries appear on the Edexcel Certificate and International GCSE and homepages for Chinese, French, German and Spanish. In addition to recordings in the oral training guides, there are other recordings and linked examiner commentaries on the GCE homepages for French, German and Spanish.

Other key resources include sample assessment material, past papers and the unit-specific examiner reports, which are all located on the language and qualification-specific homepages.

Frequently asked questions

The following frequently asked questions concern various aspects of the oral examinations across different qualifications. These FAQs are intended to provide information and links to key support documents and forms.

The FAQs are grouped into separate qualification areas as indicated below:

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Alistair Drewery, Languages subject advisor
Alistair DreweryLanguages
UK: 020 7010 2187
Intl: +44 (0)20 7010 2187
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