Most of us get nervous to an upcoming test whether it is an oral test or a written test. People who have prepared for the test tend to be more confident as compared to the ones who prepared less or did not prepare at all. People who did last minute preparation would feel more tension. We call this cramming. When we need to do many things in such a short time, we get pressured. Some people are more productive when under pressure, but this does not work very well with some in most cases. Better results can still be obtained by preparing for it under a reasonable amount of time frame.
Some students would prefer to take written test than oral test because in the written test, they can think long and hard before they give their answer. They do not need to look anyone in the eye and that they do not need to give an immediate answer. They may even erase their answers if they think they can change them to better ones. In the oral test, the students are required to think fast. The answers would be very spontaneous. Having or not having eye contact with the examiner would be noted and would affect the ratings of the oral test.
But lets ponder on the question about why students get nervous during one on one oral test. One reason is that they wanted to pass the test but fear of failing this test gets the better of them. They would start to think these thoughts: What if I am not able to answer the questions correctly? What if I say the wrong grammar? What if I get so intimidated by the examiner that I get mental blocked? What if the questions would be too difficult to answer? The never ending what ifs would then take hold of the examinee and he loses his confidence. Even if the test has not started, the student already has premeditated qualms and fears which would then hinder his ability to think straight.
Of course, if the student is very much aware that he did not prepare himself for the exam, he knows that he is guilty and should not expect to pass the exam much more to get a high rating from it.
He knows that he does not deserve it at all. But because he needs to take the exam and to pass it too, being unprepared would certainly make anyone nervous. Since it would be a one on one exam, it means the student would be alone. He would not be able to rely on others for the answers because the examiner would be asking him the test questions and nobody would be there to help him with the answers.
Another reason to feel anxious is that the examinee would never know beforehand what questions would be thrown at him by the examiner. What if the topic would be about something that he would not be knowledgeable about? Of course our aim in the oral test is to answer the questions as intelligently as possible and the lack of knowledge about the questions being asked would surely make the aim to be impossible. The examiner would surely be able to detect whether the examinee is truly knowledgeable about the topic or is just making a wild guess on the answers.
Some people would prepare themselves for the oral test by standing in front of the mirror while talking and making eye contact with their own reflection in the mirror. This way, they would be able to observe how they are doing and what needs to be enhanced or corrected. They would practice and practice until they are confident that they are now ready for the oral exam. Of course, even if we have practiced and prepared a lot, the nervous feeling would not totally disappear but it would be minimized because we know that we tried our best to prepare for the exam. On the other hand, if we did not even prepare or practice and we know our limitations, then the nervous feeling would be overwhelming. Athletes train hard before they are confident to compete in the games. Church choirs, glee clubs, school dramas, dancers, etc. Need to practice first before they do their performance. Not a single individual in any of these organizations would be confident to perform without first practicing.
Knowing our own weaknesses would be a factor to not having enough confidence and thus becoming nervous during the one on one oral test. Oral test would mean that we are required to speak , thus our language ability will be judged. Our intonations and dictions would be heard and we are not very confident about these. Our pronunciations of each syllable would be gauged whether uttered correctly or not. Our vocabulary and grammar would be evaluated too. If we know that we are lacking in language ability, feelings of being nervous would again get the better of us. We feel the pressure again. We panic and then start to get pessimistic.
Being nervous before any kind of test is just normal. But the intensity of the feeling would depend on how much preparation and effort you exerted before the test. Prepared people have nothing to do but wait for the day of the oral test because they have already done what they needed to do. Knowing our level or ability in the language usage is also a factor that would affect the intensity of our feelings of nervousness. Confident people know that they are very well prepared to take the exam and they know that they have enough ability or capacity to take it. Overly fearful people would be the opposite of this.
Some students get nervous before a one on one oral exam because they are afraid of saying the wrong choice of words that would offend the examiners. These people are very much aware that they have the tendency to be tactless. They say things at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Sometimes because of their nervousness, they tend to over say things and utter needless words that the examiner would find annoying. Of course the students may have no bad intentions when they spoke and they were just defending their answers or themselves but they do not give good impressions. We can guess what their ratings would be.
Introvert people would surely be nervous with a one on one oral exam. They are not confident being around many people and they are most comfortable when they are alone or when they are with people who are closed to them. Because of this, their social skills may be lacking, they find it hard to interact correctly with others. When they encounter an examiner who is unpredictable, they may not know how to handle the situation or how to deal with the examiner. They would then just shut up which the examiner may interpret as being dumb.
Students who are not used to oral tests would also be nervous because of their lack of experience because they do not know yet what to expect. On the other hand, students who often undergo oral tests would already have ideas on what types of examiners they might be encountering even if they would not really know yet what exact questions would be asked. An applicant who is used to being interviewed in the process of looking for a job would be used to answering interview questions thus he would not feel that nervous anymore on his next interview. Of course interviewers may ask similar questions but no one is exactly alike. Bottom line is that the interviewee gets the experience of undergoing interviews under different kinds of people.
If you ask me, I am also concerned about the character of the examiners. Some examiners are very understanding, sympathetic and compassionate. They understand the state of the examinee, thus they would ask reasonable but challenging questions and give their ratings considerately and fairly. But we cannot help but also have examiners that we consider to be overly strict and such terrors.
They would not allow any single error and they find it hard to give high ratings. They tend to be more on the critical side. This of course can also work for the advantage of the student. If a student gets a passing grade and much more a high rating from such an examiner, then it would mean that the student is of high caliber. But sadly, there are examiners who give their ratings base on their personal biases. If they find the student cute, handsome, beautiful, charming or appealing, these examiners would give him or her higher rating regardless of the language ability or the answers given the examinee. On the other hand, some examiners would give a lower rating just because they got turned off by the physical features or hygiene of their examinees. Of course, this is not fair, but the world is often unfair.