Oral Exam Rubric

Rubric and Procedure for Oral Exams


You will be assigned a day and time during normal class hours to take your oral exam along with two other students in the class. This is not negotiable and no make-ups will be given. If you are not present when it is your turn, you will receive a grade of 0.


The questions will either directly be drawn from the study questions/reading questions or very closely modeled on them. As all reading questions for the entire term are either provided for you on this site or are clearly indicated in the course plan, you may consider yourself to be in possession of all of your potential test questions for both tests from the very start of the term. Any question we have covered in class up to and including the last class meeting before the exam should be considered fair game.


In the time allotted you will be asked between one and three questions, including follow-up questions as the instructor deems appropriate or necessary. All students will remain present during each student's interview. Each student present will be asked completely different questions. Those students not being interviewed will complete a scoring sheet identical to the instructors to be turned in at the end of the testing period. On this sheet, the students will score the interviewee according to the rubric given below. This sheet will not be signed. It is to be completed anonymously. The instructor may use these sheets in his evaluation of the interviewee's performance on the exam. Upon completion of the exam period, students will be expected to leave promptly and courteously so that the next group of exam takers may be seated and proceed with their exam without undue delay.


3 2 1 0
Comprehension The test taker understands the question asked and gives a clear, coherent, comprehensive answer to it that clearly displays his/her command of the material and/or superior preparation for the test. The test taker understands the question asked and gives an adequate answer that lacks detail, or is unclear on minor points, but contains no obvious mistakes or misunderstandings. The test taker has some trouble understanding the question and/or gives an answer that is incomplete OR only partially correct OR that contains at least one serious or misleading mistake or misunderstanding The test taker doesn't seem to understand the question at all, and gives an answer which seems improvised (i.e. is "BS") OR which is incoherent, mostly factually incorrect, or otherwise displays a near total lack of understanding of the material.
Focus The test taker gets right to the point and stays on topic throughout his/her answer, giving all and only information which is relevant to the question asked. The test taker does a good job staying on topic, but sometimes includes either too much or too little information about key points, OR sometimes drifts into material that isn't really relevant to the answer. The test taker spends about half his/her time on material that isn't relevant to the question, OR takes a roundabout or rambling approach to answering the question asked. He/she seems to be stalling for time, perhaps, or to otherwise be unprepared. The test taker wanders all over the place, digressing or moving into material that doesn't pertain to the question at all OR answers the question with a series of his/her own questions.
Fluidity The test taker communicates clearly and professionally in standard English without lapsing into colloquial speech or idioms (e.g. "You know what I'm sayin'", "outside the box", etc.) , and in a manner that suggests organized thoughts and comfort with the material. The test taker communicates clearly and competently in standard English but somewhat unprofessionally or occasionally lapsing into colloquialisms. The test-taker's points are discernible, but he/she isn't particularly clear OR seems not to know how to communicate professionally OR frequently lapses into colloquialisms. The test taker is mostly rambling and incoherent, speaking only or primarily in colloquial phrases that render most of what he/she says devoid of actual, informative content.
Technical Vocabulary The test taker uses names and technical terms appropriately and pronounces them correctly, and can answer questions in such a way that it is clear that he/she knows what such terms mean. The test taker mostly uses names and technical terms appropriately, but occasionally mispronounces them OR seems to misapply or misuse them or not to know exactly what they mean. The test taker frequently mispronounces names or technical terms OR uses technical terms inappropriately in such a way as to call into question his/her understanding of them. The test taker's use of names and technical terms seems calculated to mask a lack of real knowledge although it is evident that the test taker has no clear grasp of what those terms mean or how they should be used. Mispronunciations and misuses of terms abound.
Composure The test-taker displays a professional, confident, and emotionally balanced attitude towards the test. The test-taker is perhaps a little nervous, but not so much that his/her performance is compromised. The test taker's attitude is too casual, or uncooperative, or overly emotional, but he/she makes it through the test. The test taker's attitude is so poor, casual, emotional, or otherwise unprofessional that it seriously compromises his/her performance on the test.

Oral Exam Evaluation Sheet

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