Emma talks about overcoming a difficult oral exam
Chapter details: Emma had to do a French oral exam in her final year and panicked beforehand, but managed to get a First by speaking naturally to the examiners
Subject: French
Student status: Home, Finalist
Loading Player...
Rate this clip

How did you deal with the stress of final year and all those things?

It was a complete rollercoaster. The oral went really well, well, it didn't, actually, it was in the third week of the Autumn term and I remember thinking, 'It's going to be fine, yeah, Sophie half French, just nailed Paris, it's going to be fine.' I chose Jacques Brel who's this really famous French singer. I'd made up this really clever title, it sounded clever.

I was really chilled and then three days before the oral I was like, 'Oh God, we've got to write a ten minute presentation' I hadn't written it up and I was like, 'Ahh I've got to start' and then I panicked, couldn't write it up. I'm a real perfectionist anyway so I was stopping myself, it was a real mental battle, quite a lot of that at uni actually, just not really having faith in me being able to do it, being unconfident in my academic ability but then knowing that I'm capable.

It's really weird but before the oral I panicked, didn't get my presentation written down. I didn't really sleep for three days. I finally got half of the presentation written on the day of the oral, went in, I looked terrible, I was clutching three packets of fruit pastilles, I'd been bawling my eyes out for three days, not sleeping. I had my computer because part of my presentation, I was like, 'I'll show a video of Jacques Brel as a commentary of how he performed in the song.' I dropped my computer down the stairs, I was just like, 'Noooo, this is the end of the world!'

I went in there and it was very obvious that I wasn't looking on top form, I remember I'd managed to memorise about two minutes, I remember in the middle of the exam, just going, I'm going to have to translate it, but I just went, 'Look it doesn't help learning something off my heart, I'm not actually thinking about what I'm saying, I'm just going to talk to you about Jacques Brel.'

The two examiners looked at me, at the end of the day I was obviously the first person to do that or they weren't expecting it. I just rambled as much as I could about Jacques Brel but actually talked to them. I came out thinking, 'Oh God, I ballsed that one up royally.' I ended up coming out with a First which I was just really proud of and I think it's because I just stopped and thought, 'I'm actually going to speak to you, this is an oral' and just went for it.