Master the 'O' Level Oral Exam: Top Tips for Planned Response Success

Master the ‘O’ Level Oral Exam: Top Tips for Crafting the Perfect Planned Response

Hi everyone! I’m Ms Atifa, a teacher and secondary curriculum specialist at Lil’ but Mighty.

As a relatively new format in the ‘O’ levels, the Planned Response question is one that may seem daunting to many of you. How do you come up with a well-developed response meant to be delivered within 2 minutes? However, fret not, as coming up with a developed Planned Response is definitely achievable, and you will find out how to do so in this blogpost!

During the Planned Response segment of Oral, you will watch a video stimulus with a duration of about one minute. Before you are tested, you are given 10 minutes (including the time given to watch the video) to plan your response. Following that, you will deliver your Planned Response to the examiner and have a time limit of 2 minutes. Should you exceed 2 minutes, you will be stopped and/or penalised by the examiner! So, a good time range for your Planned Response is around 1 minute 45 seconds to 2 minutes!

Now, let’s take a look at 4 tips that can help you ace the Planned Response section of the Oral examination. After reading through the tips, you can practise applying them to an example question below.

Tip #1: Use RASE to structure your response

RASE stands for Response, Apply to Self, Story and Ending. It is essential to use all parts of RASE in your response to each Oral question asked, including the Planned Response question. So, what exactly does each part of RASE entail?

The Response refers to directly addressing the question, and supporting this direct answer with 2-3 PEEs (Point, Explanation, Example). For instance, if the question is asking, “Would you be interested in attending the activity in the video?”, I should start my Response with a direct answer: “Yes, I am interested in attending the activity in the video.” Then, I will bring up 2-3 PEEs to extrapolate on reasons why I am interested in attending the video activity.

Please note that since timeliness is essential for Planned Response, elaborate on only 2 Points and supplement each of them with either an Explanation, or an Example. It’s not necessary to give both an Explanation or Example— giving at least one will suffice, but of course, there is nothing wrong with giving both of them!

You can think of the Apply to Self as how you personally relate to the question. It is an explanation of your personal preferences and habits. For the Planned Response question, the Apply to Self is optional. If you are worried about time, you can skip the Apply to Self and use RSE instead. However, if you are keen to include it, ensure that it is not too long. 3-4 sentences would suffice for the Apply to Self component.

As for the Story, this is where you elaborate on one specific incident you’ve experienced in the past which is relevant to the question and the ideas you shared in the Response. You should elaborate on your Story with 5W1H details — (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How). The minimum expectation is to address at least 3W details and How you felt during the experience.

As for the Ending, this is where you wrap up your Planned Response by restating your initial main points which you brought up in the Response. Then, end off meaningfully with either a Reflection, a Hope or Wish, or Advice or Suggestions. An Ending is essential to include in a Planned Response in order to smoothly wrap everything up. You must avoid simply trailing off into silence or telling your examiner, “That’s all I have to say.”

Tip #2: Note down details you notice in the video and bring them up in your (R)esponse

Watch the video stimulus you are shown carefully during the planning time! While doing so, you should note down any significant details from the video that you can bring up and use as supporting examples or explanation for your Points within the Response component. For example, if you wish to discuss that the people shown in the video look anxious, you can use video details describing their facial expressions to prove this! Or, if you wish to discuss that the cycling activity in the video looks relaxing, you can use video details describing the calming natural scenery to prove the activity is relaxing.

Do your best to use as many of your 5 senses to describe your chosen video details. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you think you would be able to smell, touch, or taste if you yourself were in the video?

Tip #3: Practise reading your response aloud during your planning time

The 10 minutes given to plan should not solely be spent on writing. Aim to spend about 5-7 minutes planning, so that you will have 3-5 minutes to practise reading your response out loud. This would give you some ‘rehearsal’ time before you face the examiner, and will allow you to roughly time your own response to ensure it is not too lengthy or short.

Tip #4: Alternate between referring to your notes and maintaining eye contact with your examiner
Maintaining eye contact is essential during your Oral examination, and will show confidence to the examiner. So, avoid reading from your notes too closely to the point that your eyes are glued to the page! Remember to look up at the examiner— make it a point to maintain eye contact with them after every few sentences.

Now, why don’t you practise applying all of the above tips based on the following question and stimulus?


Planned Response Example Question: How do you think the chefs are feeling in this video?

Have you attempted to plan your response using RASE? Were you able to sufficiently develop your planned response to last for an adequate duration? Feel free to leave your RASE plan in the comments below, should you wish to share your ideas!

Now that you have given the example question a try, enrol in our O Level English Essential Toolkit to check if your response is on the right track! With our Toolkit, you will gain access to a model response to the above question and video prompt which has been planned using RASE. You will even be able to play an audio clip to listen to a model student’s excellent delivery of her answer!

So, what are you waiting for? Fill in your details below and get access to not only oral practices, but practices for all the other O Level components too 😀 Until next time, take care!

O Level English Essential Toolkit

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Ms Atifa

In her time teaching, she has incorporated elements of drama into her classes to engage her lower primary students. She tries her best to get to know all of her students and is always keen to find out each of their interests and hobbies. She believes that each student has personalised needs, and aims to make lessons fun and helpful for all of her students.

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