Exams are part of life as a student. Exams are a good opportunity to learn a lot about your subjects and to communicate your knowledge about the subject.

Why are there so few multiple choice quizzes at Danish universities? Why are oral exams so common? Why is group work such a valued working method? How much time should I spend on memorizing facts for my exam?

You can probably think of more questions about the working methods and the standards that your exams are expected to meet at Aarhus University. We have tried to explain some of these issues, which are depicted below.

Your own expectations

Some students prefer to prepare well in advance, others prefer to feel a little pressure. It's a good idea to start thinking about what you expect from yourself for the exam. Especially expectations about grades can often interfere with the exam period and your preparation process.


Grading and expectations

Bloom’s Taxonomy shows what is expected from your academic work and can help you focus your daily studies and your exam performance.

Bloom's Taxonomy shows how you should be able to demonstrate that you know and understand a number of theoretical or methodological positions and that you know to apply them and to analyze and evaluate them.

It can help you focus your daily studies and your exam performance, both at oral and written exams. Identifying and distinguishing between the different levels in the exam questions will help you decide how to prioritise them.

The taxonomy places 6 learning objectives in a hierarchical structure that moves from basic to advanced. Generally speaking, if you show that you master the taxonomy’s higher levels you will get you a higher grade. But you cannot skip the lower levels.

Learning objective

How to master the learning objective


Demonstrating that you have sufficient knowledge of facts, relevant terminology, and basic concepts are ways of showing that you master the learning objective of remembering.

You do this by:

  • Describing

  • Listing

  • Naming

  • Identifying

  • Recalling

  • Recognizing

  • Stating

Relevant actions could be:

  • Describe what happened.

  • State how many...

  • Name who...

  • Describe what is...

  • Identify which is true or false.


In order to show that you master the learning objective of understanding you must demonstrate your understanding of relevant facts and ideas.

You do this by:

  • Organizing

  • Explaining

  • Interpreting

  • Comparing

  • Translating

  • Paraphrasing

  • Giving examples

Relevant actions could be:

  • Make an outline of...

  • Explain what was the main idea...

  • Interpret a text to show who was the key character...

  • Make a comparison to find the differences that exist between...

  • Give examples of...


Demonstrating that you can use your knowledge of facts, methods, and ideas to solve problems in new and different manners are ways of showing that you master the learning objective of applying.

You do this by:

  • Showing

  • Using

  • Constructing

  • Examining

  • Classifying

Relevant actions could be:

  • Show that you know another instance of the same.

  • Classify something by certain characteristics.

  • Apply the method used to some experience of your own.

  • Formulate your own questions to ask of the matter at hand.

  • Develop a set of instructions based on the matter at hand.


When you master the learning objective of analyzing you are able to examine and break your knowledge into parts and demonstrate that you can distinguish between the different parts.

This you do by:

  • Comparing

  • Analyzing

  • Categorizing

  • Examining

  • Identifying

  • Contrasting

Relevant actions could be:

  • Compare with other matters and find similarities.

  • Contrast with other matters and find differences.

  • Identify any underlying themes.

  • Identify any problems.

  • Create useful distinctions and categories.

  • Examine motives, turning points, important aspects.


Assessing and making judgments through checking and critiquing and justifying your stand or decision are ways of demonstrating that you master the learning objective of evaluating.

You do this by:

  • Assessing

  • Discussing

  • Criticizing

  • Recommending

  • Rating

  • Arguing

  • Justifying

  • Verifying

Relevant actions could be:

  • Discuss whether there may be better solutions to the problem.

  • Rate different solutions.

  • Recommend one solution to another.

  • Critize a perspective.

  • Argue why you think that something is good or bad.

  • Defend your standpoint.


You demonstrate that you master the learning objective of creating when you create something new, a new product or idea or perspective.

You do this by:

  • Creating

  • Inventing

  • Designing

  • Predicting

  • Imagining

  • Formulating

Relevant actions could be:

  • Design one or two possible solutions to...

  • Imagine how you would deal with the situation.

  • Create possible future scenarios with desirable changes.

  • Invent new ways of using...

  • Develop proposals for action to solve the matter at hand.

Oral presentation

6 useful steps when preparing an oral presentation in an academic context.

When you take a course or a class at Aarhus University, you are often expected to give an oral presentation of a certain subject at least once during the semester. The aim is to improve the students’ communicational skills and to give them an opportunity to work with the material in a different media than the written text.

6 steps

Here is a list of 6 steps that are useful to go through when preparing an oral presentation:

  1. Define your subject – formulate your thesis-statement

  2. Structure your material – what to say when

  3. Formulate your presentation – consider the audience

  4. Remember your material – visualise your manuscript, highlight keywords

  5. Give the presentation – speak in a loud and clear voice

  6. Get feedback – ask for comments: What was good? What could be improved?

It is always a good idea to practice your presentation. Have you considered using a webcam?


Managing nervousness

Push the wall if you get nervous before presenting or try the 5+5+5 exercise to calm your nerves.

Useful links:

Counselling and support

  • Studentwelfare.au.dk is a portal by Aarhus University which brings together all the services which are available if you are not enjoying student life. Find counsellors' contact details and learn how to overcome study-related stress, among other things.

  • The Student Counselling Service offers free social, psychological, and psychiatric counselling and treatment for students at higher educational institutions in connection to their educational situation. It is an institution under the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education.

Studying in Aarhus

  • Aarhus University's website for international students contains essential information about studies at Aarhus University, admission to the university, housing in Aarhus etc.

  • Welcome to Aarhus. Use your next break from studying to discover the city of Aarhus and its university's campus by watching this prize-winning video made by exchange students.

  • Hey you, AU! is a blog where full-degree students can comment, discuss and create networks. student in Denmark, including Aarhus.

  • Student life in Denmark. This Danish government website has information on tuition fees, admission requirements and other practicalities, but also personal stories about what it’s like to study here.

The content of this pages is written by Iris Galili and Inger H. Dalsgaard, Department of Aesthetics and Communication - English, Arts, Aarhus University.