i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » DSE

Dealing with Uncooperative Candidates in DSE English Speaking

The DSE English Speaking exam feels daunting to a lot of candidates. I felt the same when I took the exam myself some years ago. The exam seemed very hard to prepare for as I knew my performance could easily be affected by circumstances beyond my control. I worried about uncooperative candidates who would perhaps interrupt, dominate or steer the conversation in irrelevant directions.

However, I learned that in these situations, it is important to stay calm and act fast. I discovered a few key techniques for dealing with uncooperative candidates. Using a variety of communication strategies, you too can regain control of a discussion in a polite and respectful manner. Here are some tips on achieving this in real-life exam scenarios:

Interrupt when someone is dominating the discussion

You should generally wait for others to finish speaking before you add to the discussion, but you may want to interrupt when one candidate is speaking too much. You can use non-verbal cues to suggest that you would like to talk, such as leaning forward or raising a finger. If this doesn’t work, interrupt the conversation politely by saying:

  • Excuse me, would you mind if I added something?
  • I’d really like to comment on that point, if you don’t mind.

You should always interrupt at the end of the dominating speaker’s sentences, so as to not appear rude.

Control the conversation direction

Relevance is one of the marking criteria in the exam, so be on the lookout for diversions from the topic. If you feel that the group is veering off in an irrelevant direction, you should say:

  • That’s interesting, but I’m not sure it’s relevant to the question.
  • I think we have strayed a bit from the topic. Let’s return to the idea of …
  • I don’t think this relates very closely to what we are discussing. Let’s talk about … instead.

Remember to explain your opinion politely, without putting other candidates down.

Respond appropriately to unwanted questions

Sometimes other candidates raise questions that are irrelevant or difficult to answer. Instead of remaining quiet or ignoring these questions, you can say:

  • That’s interesting, but I don’t think we ought to discuss that because …
  • There are various arguments to make on that topic, but I think it would be better to talk about …
  • This is a question that we could discuss at length. Could I ask … instead?

Using the above strategies will demonstrate your ability to interact with others and contribute to a logical and meaningful discussion. Although you have no control over what other candidates do, you have total control over what YOU do in response to their actions. Keep calm and follow the tips in the article to secure the opportunity to gain a high score.

At i-Learner, we understand the importance of catering to the needs of students of varied abilities. This is often neglected at higher levels, which prompted us to design this elaborate structure of senior secondary courses to provide the best education to students preparing for the HKDSE Examination.

Our DSE course is specifically fashioned to mould to students’ needs through small-class teaching so as to maximise their chances of attaining the best results possible in the most important examination of their lives. To better facilitate our students’ learning journey, our DSE course is paired with our specially-designed e-Learning platform so that students practise and further polish the techniques acquired in class.

Free Assessment:
Tsim Sha Tsui Centre: 31138815 (Phone) 90493014 (Whatsapp)
Wan Chai Centre: 36118400 (Phone) 64688366 (Whatsapp)