top of page

Why do speech and drama exams? A student’s perspective (Part 2)

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Speech and drama exam season is approaching again!

At Head Held High, exam season is one of our favourite times of the year. It’s the time when many of our students (last year 300+ of our 850 students took speech and drama exams) get to showcase all that they’ve learned throughout the year. And after they’ve done so, it’s a chance to bask in the feeling of achievement and accomplishment that only a well-taken exam can provide.

This is Part 2 of a couple of interviews we held with two of our recent students, who have both been through the entire speech and drama exam lifecycle, from junior to senior grades. To read the first interview, click here.

In this blog post we interview Sophie Bosma, a former Head Held High student who over the years completed the full range of speech and drama exams. She’s therefore perfectly placed to comment on what she’s observed speech and drama exams can do for young people.

Read on to hear Sophie’s thoughts on the top benefits (and challenges) of speech and drama exams. We hope you find the interview helpful in deciding whether speech and drama exams might be for your child.

Sophie, how old were you when you started speech and drama exams, and how old when you finished?

I started aged 13 in Year 9 and finished aged 18 in Year 13.

What is the highest speech and drama exam qualification you obtained?

I achieved Grade 8 with Merit.

How old are you now and what are you up to?

I am now 19 and in my second year at the University of Otago studying Anthropology and Linguistics.

What would you say are the biggest benefits you gained from the speech and drama exam process that you are now applying to your study/work life?

The biggest benefits I gained from the exam process are public speaking skills, confidence and memory retention. With every job I have had, I’ve been able to use speech and drama skills. Being able to speak well can portray a real sense of professionalism and maturity which job employers seem to really like. Additionally, having been through speech and drama exams and having to memorise multiple prose pieces at once, I have found university to flow quite smoothly. I’ve been able to continue holding onto lots of different information which is such a helpful life skill.

What would you say are the biggest benefits you gained from the speech and drama exam process, that you are now applying to your personal life?

The memory retention skills are probably my most noticeable ‘every-day’ speech and drama skills I’ve benefited from, but also being able to rationalise nerves a bit better has been huge for me. I had the worst nerves when it came to exams, but from sticking with the speech and drama exam process (even though it was uncomfortable at times, I have better learned how to manage stress. Mistakes are going to happen, no-one, not even your examiner expects absolute perfection from you and if you take a breather all will be okay!

What were the most enjoyable parts of doing speech and drama exams over the years?

I really enjoyed the relationships I got to build with my classmates, Kiki and Briana, as well as my teacher Erica. When you all have this commitment every week for a few years, classmates turn into good friends and we appreciate how much each other improves our respective skills. I also loved getting to read so many different pieces of literature – there were so many proses and monologues I would have never picked myself to read but were offered by Erica and I loved them. My favourite poem to this day is one we studied (Let it Enfold You by Charles Bukowski) and there is no better feeling than learning a piece and it coming to you quite naturally because you connect with the character.

What were the most challenging parts of doing speech and drama exams over the years?

Hands down the most challenging aspect for me with exams was fear of forgetting my words. I loved learning skills and pieces but was really anxious when it came time to do exams. I would know my pieces really well but oftentimes would get super nervous about making a mistake. I can look back now with a bit more perspective and know that forgetting a line is not the end of the world but I know how nerve-wracking it can be in the moment. My top tip with nerves is that I did find by not making direct eye contact with the examiner but instead focusing on something close to them, I could focus on my lines way better and nearly pretend that they were not there, making it a far more authentic performance.

Would you recommend to young students beginning their speech and drama journeys to do exams? If so, why?

Yes, I absolutely recommend doing exams. Being able to have an official speech and drama qualification to your name is super beneficial to your CV. I also recommend doing it particularly if you are a bit nervous – one of the best life skills I gained from speech and drama is learning to push through nerves and get outside of my comfort zone. Your speaking skills and approach towards challenges will change for the better.

How do you imagine you might use what you’ve learned from years of speech and drama exams in your future?

I will continue to have a big love for prose, monologues and plays – learning pieces for exams really helped cement this. I will also hold onto the speaking skills as they are pretty ingrained in me now! They have already helped me get jobs, so I’m excited to see what else they can help me achieve in my life and career.

130 views0 comments


bottom of page