Oral argument

Preparing for the PPL Oral

Now that your PPL written assessment is (almost) out of the way, you have a short time in which to prepare for your oral. Many of these skills are equally applicable to mooting, whether assessed or in competition. A few useful tips:

  • Prepare enough material to speak for the entire time. You should be able to talk for the allotted time, but be aware that you won’t get to. Your assessor will ask questions throughout, but since you have no way of knowing how many questions you will be asked, it is best to ensure that you don’t run out of things to say.

  • Think about structure. Make sure that you know what your key arguments are, and that you will be able to convey those arguments within the allotted time. Organise them into a logical structure. Tell your assessor how your argument will proceed at the beginning of the assessment. A good method is to write these key arguments down as bullet points, and only bring those bullet points into the assessment. This has two benefits – it requires you to memorise your arguments, rather than simply reading them off a piece of paper, and it makes it easier to find your place if you get lost.
  • Organise your notes effectively. This video provides some helpful tips on organising your information and staying on track.  Feel free to adapt the advice for your purposes in PPL and onward.
  • Be prepared to answer questions. The assessment is a professional conversation, not a presentation. This means that you need to be able to diverge from your notes where necessary. If you planned to respond to the question later, it is preferable to be able to respond immediately, and then return to where you were. You should also know the overall argument of the paper, and understand what the rest of your syndicate has written, as it is possible that you might be asked about sections that you haven’t written.
  • Know the key points that you have to convey. It is likely that you won’t have time to say everything that you want to say during the assessment. Make sure that you have a few bullet points that you can refer to if (or when) your assessor tells you to wrap up your arguments.
  • Re-read your memo. It is probable that you will be asked about any gaps or weak arguments in your written assessment. Make sure that you know the assessment well enough to deal with these arguments. If you have written multiple drafts of your assessment, it might be a good idea to return to previous drafts as well, as there will often be valuable arguments that you have had to cut out of the final product.
  • Refer to your Marking Criteria. As with any law school assessment, always refer to the marking criteria and use them to guide your approach.

When preparing for the assessment, you should practice discussing your arguments without referring to any notes. It is advisable to do this in front of your group. You may also want to encourage your group members to ask you questions about your arguments – the more detailed and difficult, the better.

Finally, don’t stress! The assessment will be over very quickly, and you will have learned enough about the topic whilst researching and writing the assignment to answer most questions. If you are anxious about public speaking some people recommend doing a ‘power pose’ for 2 minutes before you begin the assessment.

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