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How to Effectively Use Oral Review Methods

Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education. Jacqueline is also a teacher

Oral review will stimulate class participation

Oral review will stimulate class participation

All About Oral Review

It’s the day before the big test and your students are anxiously anticipating that dreaded exam. Even though you are the instructor, you can feel the stress that accompanies a challenge. How are you going to prepare your students (regardless of their ages) for this exam, be it final or midterm? Here is one method you can incorporate that will assist your students on a continuous basis. That method is called oral review.

Oral review can be a versatile and effective teaching/learning technique. In order to be an effective oral reviewer, the instructor needs to understand the characteristics and techniques involved in effective oral questioning as well.

Oral Review/Questioning Techniques

Oral questioning as well as oral review techniques can be used for a variety of purposes, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Introducing, summarizing, or reviewing a lesson
  • Clarifying points previously made
  • Bring up points omitted
  • Bringing reading assignments into focus
  • Developing in students new insights
  • Promoting students’ understanding
  • Developing students’ attitudes and values
  • Teaching students to use ideals rather than simply memorize them

Oral questioning can provide important evaluation information. Students’ preparation for lessons can be tested. Preliminary questions during the lesson introduction can serve as a pretest of students’ knowledge level. Also, using review questions during the lesson can provide immediate feedback on how well students are progressing.

A good review question should have the following characteristics:

  • Be concise, including only one idea
  • Be short enough for students to remember
  • Be timely, interesting, thought-provoking, and relevant to the lesson being taught
  • Be stated in language familiar to students
  • Be stated to stress the key points of a major lesson topic
  • Be stated to require more than a guessing response
  • Be stated to require more than a simple yes or no answer
  • Be stated in such a way that it does not suggest the answer

Your method of reviewing can be classified according to the level of knowledge required for the correct response. Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives is built on a progression of complex levels. At the lowest level, students are asked to only recall or recognize the correct responses from memory. Then the levels increase in complexity to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Make sure your reviews are an enjoyable experience for all

Make sure your reviews are an enjoyable experience for all

Levels Of Comprehension

There are three sub-levels of knowledge involved in comprehension. The levels are translation, interpretation, and extrapolation. In each of these sub-levels, the student is expected to expand his/her thinking past the level of simply recalling information.

The application-level requires students to solve practical problems through the selection and use of ideas, principles, and theories. After application, the analysis level will ask students to break a whole down into its component parts and to determine the relationship between the parts. The synthesis level requires students to put together parts and elements to form a new whole or pattern. Finally, the evaluation level requires students to make judgments based on specific criteria rather than opinions.

When employing oral review questioning techniques, there are certain guidelines that instructors need to consider. This is called the “six shoulds”.

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  1. Review questions should be distributed among class members so that each student has the opportunity to participate.
  2. Review questions should be asked in a normal conversational tone, loud enough for all class members to hear.
  3. Review questions should be presented in a logical sequence.
  4. Students’ responses should be repeated for special emphasis or clarity.
  5. Students should be encouraged to go beyond the first answer, expanding and corroborating on what others have said.
  6. A review question should be directed to a particular student after the question has been asked to encourage other students to formulate answers.
Clarity in reviews can make the difference in students getting the required message

Clarity in reviews can make the difference in students getting the required message

Putting It into Application

The following information is an example of how Oral Questioning can be incorporated into a lesson review. This example is indigenous to vocational education students but can be applied to any educational level.

Mrs. Cassandra Miller is a vocational instructor at Sainsbury Preparatory School. She will begin the summation of her Medical Administration class discussion in the manner illustrated below. (This same procedure can be used with any class presentation.)

“In the Medical Office Procedures textbook, the objectives for the lesson are stated at the beginning of the chapter. It is a good idea to read these objectives at the beginning of the class period, and at the completion of the chapter, to reread the objectives, giving you, the student an opportunity to rehearse what you have learned. The following example is how this is done.

Chapter Two: Qualifications for Success


  • List six personality characteristics essential to a medical assistant.
  • List and explain eight positive work attitudes.
  • Describe the appropriate appearance of a well-groomed assistant.
  • Discuss how to handle the following situations:
  • A talkative patient or coworker
  • An inquisitive patient
  • Requests for advice
  • Communications barriers
  • Office gossip
  • A patient with a complaint
  • Discuss social relationships between the assistant and office staff, and discuss social relationships between the assistant and patients.”

Closing Comments

This particular technique of employing oral review questioning utilizes the application level of questioning: the student is to solve practical problems through the selection and uses of ideas, principles, and theories they have learned throughout the chapter. The student is not merely recalling from memory what has been read, but the student is required to display a level of understanding of how the principles discussed in class are applicable in “real life” situations. By incorporating this method of review the student has a greater probability of success when taking the written examination.

Using The Oral Review Technique

© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS


Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS (author) from Memphis on February 10, 2015:

Using oral review is a good way for a teacher to measure the comprehension of students before giving them the actual exams.

Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS (author) from Memphis on August 25, 2014:

Teachers can aid their students in having a successful testing experience by giving oral reviews of the lessons days before an exam.

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