Chinese Oral O Level Mark Weightage
The weightage for Chinese Oral for O Level (classified under Paper 3) is quite high, at 25%. The duration of the Chinese Oral exam is only 15-25 minutes in total, hence this short period of time determines quite a lot of marks!
Chinese Oral O Level Topics
There is a wide variety of topics that can be tested for the Chinese O Level Oral in the “Daily Conversation” section. The old format used to be based on a picture or photograph, but nowadays students view a video clip and answer or discuss questions based on the video clip.
For an extensive discussion of Topics for Chinese Oral (口试话题), check out this page on Chinesetuition88.com. Popular topics are those that are important to Singapore, such as saving water, fake news, inclusive society, and 个人代步工具 PMD (personal mobility device).
Chinese Oral O Level Tips
Firstly, one common problem for some students is talking too little. Clearly, the content marks is proportional to the amount of relevant content the student says. Hence, ideally, the student should keep talking until the time is up or the teacher says stop. If only a few words are spoken, the content marks cannot be high. This is the same concept as in Chinese composition, basically if the student only writes one page, his/her composition marks will be low.
Secondly, another problem is peppering of the speech with English words like “then”, “but”, or acronyms like MOE. Even names like “Joseph Schooling” should ideally be translated into Chinese (约瑟林). A few of these English words are not fatal, but too many English words would indicate a lack of mastery of Chinese vocabulary. Hence, students are advised to memorize a key list of Chinese terms that have high chance of appearing in Chinese O level exams.
List of Ministries in Singapore (Chinese)
- 新加坡国防部（Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)）
- 新加坡环境及水源部（Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR))
- 新加坡教育部（Ministry of Education (MOE))
- 新加坡律政部（Ministry of Law (MINLAW))
- 新加坡贸易和工业部（Ministry of Trade and Industry ( MTI))
- 新加坡人力部（Ministry of Manpower (MOM))
- 新加坡社会及家庭发展部（Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSFD)）
- 新加坡通讯及新闻部（Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)）
- 新加坡卫生部（Ministry of Health (MOH))
- 新加坡总理公署（Prime Minister’s Office)
- 建屋发展局（Housing and Development Board、简称：HDB)
- 国家传染病中心（National Centre for Infectious Diseases，简称NCID)
- 新加坡文化、社区及青年部（Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY))
Lastly, one tip would be to memorize a list of “powerful Chinese idioms and proverbs”, for instance sayings of Confucius or Tang poetry. If any one of them are used appropriately, it is an instant boost to your vocabulary score and place you in the top 5% of the student cohort. Imagine if a student uses the phrase below correctly, the examiner will be impressed beyond words:
天将降大任于斯人也，必先苦其心志，劳其筋骨，饿其体肤，空乏其身，行拂乱其所为，所以动心忍性，增益其所不能. In English, Mencius is saying that, “whenever heaven invests a person with great responsibilities, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his muscles and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. In this way his patience and endurance are developed and his weakness is overcome.”
A list of 500 proverbs (including many by Confucius) can be found in the book below, in Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin and English translation. The author, Qin Xue Herzberg, is a native speaker of Chinese and a graduate of Beijing Normal University in Chinese Language and Literature.
O level Chinese Oral Marking Scheme, Grading and Format
The official information on the O Level Chinese Oral Marking Scheme and Format is found on the SEAB website:
试卷三：口试 10 -15 分钟 50 分/25%
这份试卷包括朗读短文和会话。在考试前，考生有 10 分钟的时间默 读短文和观看录像短片。考生在限定的时间内，可以多次默读短文和 观看录像短片。
第一部分 (Reading)：朗读短文 考生必须朗读一个短文。
第二部分 (Conversation)：会话 考生针对所提供的录像短片，以及主考员的提问，跟主考员进行一段 对话。
Basically, the Reading portion is 10 marks (5%), while the Conversation portion is 40 marks (20%).
Within the Conversation portion, the official marking scheme does not mention how the marks is broken down, but traditionally it is common that 20 marks (10%) is for Content while another 20 marks (10%) is for Vocabulary/Proper usage of Chinese Language. Alternatively, the 20% could be allocated evenly among the 3 or 4 questions asked (but note the Vocabulary is still important as it contributes to Impression Marks 印象分 that is subconsciously applied by the examiner).
How to Improve Chinese Oral O Level
As mentioned above, the key aspects to improve Chinese Oral (O Level) are in the aspects of Content and Vocabulary.
For Content, students are advised to watch more Chinese television, especially news broadcasts on current affairs. Also, students can read more Chinese newspapers to improve their general knowledge. For example, Dengue Fever is a common O Level Chinese Oral topic, at minimum students should know that Dengue is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (some students thought that it is transmitted by houseflies).
For Vocabulary, students should aim and target for speaking in Chinese 100% without usage of English words. To achieve that, a list of common Chinese terminologies should be memorized, especially words that are unique to Singapore (see the list of Singapore ministries listed above). To achieve the highest distinction, students should in addition memorize a list of “powerful” Chinese idioms and proverbs to further improve their vocabulary score.
This book below has over 500 powerful Chinese proverbs in Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, as well as English translation, including proverbs by Confucius. Proper usage of such proverbs have a high chance of impressing the examiner in Chinese Oral and even Chinese composition.
Do read more on O Level Chinese Oral Tips at: