Preparing for oral exams


You should be prepared for your oral exam. It is usually around this time of the year that students at the Kenya school of Law appear before a panel of oral examiners who are mostly their lecturers, for oral exams.

For those who have been at the KSL, you know the kind of atmosphere at the school during the oral examination period. It is so tense. Extremely tense. For those who cannot bear the tension, you would rather keep away from the school.

During my year at the school, a vigilante formed a group on Facebook where those who were examined were requested to post the questions they had been asked on the group page. It was helpful to some, but then it wasn’t helpful to other people. It’s difficult to tell what type of revision would be good for you while you prepare; but at such time, most people usually know the type of revision that works for them.

Is it a study group? Find colleagues of a like mind and study with them. Is it private study? Be in a place that is convenient for private study and do your reading.

And sometimes, it may not matter if you have read or not. Your success may depend on the mood of the lead panelist before whom you appear. In my days, there was talk of a lady who was always in a bad mood. She comprised a panel of oral examiners and she gave a piece of hell to those who appeared before her. If you were a lady and did not wear heels, she would “hate on you” for it. If you were a foreigner, she would ask why you came to Kenya. If you were a gentleman and for some reason she did not like your physic or your suit, be sure you have failed your exam. And by the way, that she would make it a point to let you know that you have failed. Those were my days!

Well, this article is to encourage those who are preparing for their exams. You can only play your part and leave the rest to whoever is in charge. As for you, do the following:

1. Know the law.

Know both the substance and the procedure. You never know what scenario is presented for your resolution. It could be either. So, know both. More so, know when and how to apply both. Knowledge comes to us in many ways. Read, revise, study…

2. Be confident.

Ever heard of people who rehearse in the mirror, try it! One of the ways of fostering confidence is by looking at your examiners straight in the eye. Do not do it in a way that reflects arrogance or hostility. Do it in a way that exudes confidence.

3. Do not waste time

Time is valuable. If your oral examiners pose a question that you don’t know, it may be safer to say that you do not know. As soon as you say you do not know, please ask for another question. Your failure to ask for another question may make you fail your exam if the examiners ask you to leave.

4. Be calm.

Be calm, even on the inside. Should you face a panel where one of the examiners wants to transmit their foul mood on you, simply stay calm. An impulse to be defensive may come to you quickly, but do not be defensive. A smile can disarm an armed robber. What can it do that mood panelist?

5. Be well dressed.

Be elegant. Be formally dressed. However, do not over do it. For the ladies, do not apply a lot of makeup. A slight and not too sharp lipstick can do. Keep the eye shadow to the minimum. It’s not that make up is bad, but you don’t want to risk appearing before someone who may not like your intense make up.

Keep the colours you wear dark and cool. Navy blue, black, grey and colours of almost similar shades will do. Whereas yellow is the colour of happiness and of the sun, please do not wear a yellow suit. Red is equally not a lawyers’ colour.

6. Believe in yourself.

You can achieve what you believe in. Believe you will do well. Believe that you are prepared and that you have done your best.
However, do not lie to yourself. False confidence in oneself is more dangerous than lung cancer.

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All the best in your exams!

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