Oral Exam - Day of your Exam Strategy

How to Handle the Hot Seat during your Oral Exam

  • Know that the examiners write continuously
  • Expect an abrupt change to next question
  • No feedback
  • Remember that each new question is a fresh start, so let the old one go
  • Don't get flustered - remember that the examiners expect you to be unable to answer some questions--that's how they explore the limits of your knowledge and your acknowledgment of your limitations
  • Admit if you don’t know – Guess only if you are reasonably (80%) sure – If you do not know an answer, state directly that you do not know, but offer how you would find the answer, solve the problem, or the method you would employ – Humility is a sign of competence and confidence
  • If you find yourself losing your composure, ask the examiners for a brief break to get a drink of water, you may be reluctant to delay, but it saves time in the long run to get you back on track
  • Don’t say you would do something that you don’t do
  • Know what your consultants would do
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand/hear the question
  • Answer only the question, then STOP – subsequent questions may be chosen, depending on how you answered a previous question
  • Don’t change your answers
  • Don’t lecture, teach, or argue
  • Don’t quote the “literature”
  • Use “I” not “We”
  • Accept responsibility
  • Know your #s
  • Justify breach of standard of care
  • Settle “tug of war: what I do vs. what I should do” ahead of time – e.g. Macrosomia: expectant, induction, 10 CD – Support with ACOG evidence-based guidelines
  • Avoid social, racial, or religious justification and the following words: "Always" "Never" "Routinely" "Protocol" "Inadvertently" “That’s how I was trained ...”
  • Ask for clarification
  • Be polite, respectful and make eye contact
  • Be aware of posture, body language and minimize hand movements
  • Don’t interrupt the examiner, do not answer the question until you have heard the entire question
  • Don’t answer by repeating the question
  • Don’t be afraid of silence
  • Use I would vs. I could
  • Admit mistakes – “I learned from this ...” – “Now I do this ...”
  • Thank the examiner, end with a smile



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