Tips for Success on the Oral Competency Exam

Attend a Preparation Overview Session

The COMM Department provides a single-session, 45-minute, overview and preparation meeting for all students who sign-up for the Speech Competency Exam. This session is designed to assist students who have had notable speech training or experience and who wish to maximize their opportunity to pass the speech competency exam. This session does not provide basic speech training, so it does not substitute for the general education requirement at Wheaton College.

Top 7 Reasons Why Competent Speakers Don't Pass the Exam

Just “showing up” is no guarantee of passing the exam. Your best chance of success is to download the criteria and follow the instructions on the Communication Department website. Most people fail because they don’t “fully” cite reputable sources in their speech (no vague references to websites), they go under or over the time limit, or they “read” their speech which limits eye contact. A clear thesis statement, target audience, and organizational pattern are also important. You must submit an outline in proper outline format and annotate your bibliography. There is a review session the Wednesday before the Speech Competency Exam where you can ask questions and make any last-minute changes before presenting.

Here are the top seven reasons students don’t pass the exam. 

Cite sources FULLY and verbally in your speech (Author / Title / Publication / Date) – citing a website address isn’t enough!

Stay within the time limit of 8 minutes (+ / - 1 minute)!

State your Thesis (Specific Purpose) statement in your Introduction.

Use an organizational pattern to keep listeners focused on your main points.

Adapt to your Target Audience

Use Extemporaneous delivery – Use eye contact and hand gestures.

Use proper outline format and annotated bibliography.