Will Styler's Homepage
Will Styler

Associate Teaching Professor of Linguistics at UC San Diego

Director of UCSD's Computational Social Science Program

Will’s Oral Exam Procedures and Policies

Students who miss an exam with good cause, are unable to take a synchronous or in-person exam for good cause, who are completing a class as an ‘incomplete’, or have other reason to require separate examination may be asked to sit an oral exam instead.

Please remember that my goal here is to give you an opportunity to show your knowledge, not to ‘catch you out’ or ‘be tricky’. I will be thrilled if you show strong knowledge, and want to give you every opportunity to do so while being fair to your classmates and keeping the difficulty in line with the conventional exam.

Oral Exam Procedure

  1. Please plan to arrive 5 minutes or so before your scheduled time at the designated in-person or virtual location
  2. Bring whatever paper materials or notes you’d like, but know that you’ll have extremely limited time to examine them.
    • It’s best to plan to take the exam mostly from memory, as reading through notes burns time you won’t have.
  3. You’ll be asked direct questions about the course material which have been designed to test your knowledge of the material and your participation in the course.
    • These may be from the study guide (if such exists), or they may be new questions
    • A question might be something like “Why do we use the N’ (N-bar) element in syntax trees for this course?” or “Explain what goes on with your speech articulators when we produce a /t͡ʃ/.”
    • In some cases, you may be handed a dataset (e.g. for phonological analysis), or asked to produce an analysis (e.g. “draw a syntax tree for the sentence ‘Will tortures students with the IPA’” or “Transcribe the sentence ‘Will graded the oral exam’”).
  4. You’ll be given the opportunity to respond to the question, with the goal to show depth of understanding, and I may follow up with questions or clarifications
    • “Could you tell me a bit more about that?” or asking a followup does not mean you’re doing badly, it’s just me gauging your knowledge or prompting for more details.
  5. For each question, I’ll gauge your response and make notes, and when I’ve seen enough, we’ll move onto the next question.
  6. At the end, you’ll be given an opportunity to clarify or address any response, to any question, which you’re unhappy with, in case you missed something or wanted to emphasize something you didn’t.
  7. Once we’ve finished, I’ll let you know your earned grade, explaining where you lost any points, and you’ll be dismissed.

Oral Exam Grading

Each question will be graded out of ten. The rounded average score of all questions will be taken as the exam grade.

Each question will be graded roughly according to the following rubric:

Note that you are graded on knowledge, not on your precise manner of communicating it. No points will be deducted for your accent, register, for ‘grammatical errors’, or for nervousness. As long as you’re able to communicate that you understand the material to somebody who actively seeks to give you the benefit of the doubt, those factors are irrelevant.

Oral Exam Policies