Basic Oral Test Questions

This test is to be used as a guideline to assess students' abilities. These questions are meant to provide examples for the teacher. The teacher can change or omit any section according to needs.

While giving the Oral Test, it is a good idea to use the Oral Test Checklist for your records as well as feedback for the students.

The beginning part of the test is meant to flow as naturally as possible like a conversation. Listen for fluency, confidence, pronunciation, accuracy, comprehension, grammar, and speed of response.

Later on, it becomes more test-like to pinpoint areas that need work.

The Grammar Point section is for the teacher's use only. In the second column, do not read out loud any text in parentheses.

Note: For the section testing Present Progressive; flashcards, or a picture showing people doing various things, are very helpful.


Grammar Point

Simple Present

(everyday activities)

What do you do?

What's your job?

What do you do at work / school?

Where do you live / work?

What company do you work for?

What school do you go to?

Present Perfect

for example:

"have worked"

also listen for correct use of

prepositions: "for", "since"

How long have you (had that job? / worked there? / lived in _________?)

(Ask more questions like this and listen for the grammar used in the answers.)

Adverbs of Manner

for example: "well", "badly"

What do you like to do in your free time?

(Example student answer: 'I like to (play tennis).')

How well do you (play tennis)?

(Example answer: 'I play tennis very well.')

('I can't play tennis very well.')

(You can also ask other follow-up questions based on what the student says to assess more about the student.)

Adverbs of Manner


(This section is more like a test.)

(Teacher says:) "I'm going to say a sentence and I want you to change the word. For example:

I say: 'He is a bad singer.', you say: 'He sings badly.' OK? Let's begin."

(Teacher:) "He is a good baseball player."

(Student: "He plays well.")


(Teacher:) "She is a beautiful singer."

(Student: "She sings beautifully.")


(Teacher:) "She runs fast."

(Student: "She is a fast runner.")

Adverbs of Frequency

for example: "always, ...

never", "once a week",


How often do you (play tennis)?

(Example answer: 'I play tennis twice a week.')

What do you usually do on weekends?

(Example answer: 'I always sleep.')

(now a bit more like a test)

Tell me something you never do in the morning?

always do in the afternoon?

usually do after (playing tennis)?

Present Perfect

(part 2)

"for", "since"

How long have you (played tennis) / (been a member of the tennis club)?

(Example answer: 'I've played tennis for 5 years / since 1995.')


Present Perfect


Simple Past

Have you ever been abroad?

(Example answer: 'Yes, I have.' / 'No, I haven't.')

(If the answer is "No, I haven't", then ask about a city in the student's country.)

Have you ever been to (Kyoto)?

When did you go?

Who did you go with?

How long did you stay?

What did you do there?

What airline did you take?

There is / There are

can / can't

(Continue the topic of discussion from above.)

Tell me more about (Kyoto).

(Example answer: 'There are many temples in Kyoto.')

What can you do in (Kyoto)?

(Example answer: 'You can eat lots of Japanese food.')

(Continue along those lines until you are satisfied with your results.)

Future Tense with

"going to"

When are you going to go on your next vacation?


What are you going to do (tonight)?

(Ask: who, what, where, when, why, etc... questions.)

Future Continuous

for example:

"will be ~ing"

What will you be doing at 7:00 PM tonight?

What will you be doing at 2:00 AM tonight?

What will you be doing at this time tomorrow?

Past Progressive

for example:

"I was eating."

OK. Now, I'm going to ask you some questions about the past. Listen carefully, then answer

with the correct grammar.

What were you doing last night at 2AM?

(Example answer: 'I was sleeping.')

What were you doing at 1PM yesterday?

(Example answer: 'I was eating lunch.')

(Then ask who, what, where, when, etc... questions.)


showing locations, and

using singular / plural

with "there is" / "there are"

For this next part of the test, I'd like you to describe what you see in this room. For example: (There is a

computer on the desk. There are many chairs in the room.).

(Don't forget negatives as well. You may have to prompt the student. For example: There are no elephants in the

room. Also, listen for prepositions such as: on, in, under, behind, in front of, next to, near, etc...)

Adjectives I'm going to say a word and I want you to give me the opposite. For example: I say "big". You say "small". OK?

Let's begin.

rich / expensive / thick / hot / short / beautiful / early / fast / heavy / loud / (etc...)

Adjectives (continued),

and Descriptions of Things

Can you describe to me what you are wearing? For example: (give a description of your clothes) I'm wearing

brown, leather shoes, a thin, black, leather belt, a light blue, cotton shirt, and khaki, cotton pants.

(Listen for word order like this:

your opinion about it i.e. 'lovely' / size / age / shape / color / where it is from / material / object )

Prepositions of Time

for example: at, on, of, in

OK. Now I'm going to ask you about time and dates.

(Listen for use of: at / in / on / of, and note verb tenses.)

What time is it now?

What time did you get up this morning?

When is your birthday?

What day is tomorrow?

What is today's date?

What was yesterday's date?

Present Progressive

for example: "He is running."

(For this part of the test, the teacher needs flash cards, or a picture with people doing various things. Or you can

also ask about the people you see around the school.)

(Point to various people and ask "What is he / she doing?". Don't forget to use plurals as well. Ask yes or no

questions too.)

Count / No count

for example:

"There is some water."

"There are some apples."

I'm going to say a word, and I want you to put into a sentence. For example: I say: 'water', you say:

'There is some water.'. OK? Let's begin.


(Example answer: 'There is some milk.'

cheese / oranges / salt / rice / beans / money / tofu / tickets / seats / people

Now make this sentence into a question.

There are some eggs.

(Example answer: 'Are there any eggs?')

There is some water.

(Example answer: 'Is there any water?')

(Continue along those lines if necessary. Also, time permitting, you may want to try the negative forms as well.)

Question format

Future Tenses

I want you to ask me some questions about the future using: who, what, where, when, why, how, do, does, is, are,

which, and will.

(Listen for student's accuracy, fluency, word order, and word choice.)

Question format

Past Tenses

OK. Now ask me some questions about the past. Don't forget to use: who, what, where, when, why, how,

did, was, and were.

(Again, listen for overall grammar, and speed of response.)

Question format:

Simple Present

Now ask me some questions about what I do everyday. Again, use: who, what, where, when, why, how,

do, does, is, are, will, and which.

(Make sure student does not confuse tenses.)


You have completed the Basic Oral Test!

Remember to fill out the Checklist for the Oral Test. Keep a copy for your records and give a copy to the student.

Back to Teacher's Resource Page

To Student Study Guide

Hosted by