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Exam requirements 

At the exam, you must demonstrate that you have acquired the skills and learning outcomes of the course. But it’s not always easy to understand exactly what is required of you. 

How do I best demonstrate my skills during the exam? When and how am I academic? What do the teacher and external examiner expect of me? Will I meet the academic requirements of the university? 

There can be many questions related to working methods and academic requirements ahead of an exam

Understanding exam requirements through taxonomies 

The demands placed on you during the exam are linked to the learning objectives for the course, which you can find in the academic regulations. The learning objectives describe the knowledge, skills and competences you can obtain in the subject. The learning objectives are often defined based on a taxonomy, which is a description of the different levels of learning. You can use taxonomies to understand what is expected of you at the exam. 

The most commonly used taxonomies at Aarhus University are Bloom's taxonomy and the SOLO taxonomy, which you can read about below. Please note, however, that your degree programme may use another taxonomy. 

Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom's taxonomy describes knowledge, mental skills and processes. The taxonomy categorises various levels from simple knowledge to more complex knowledge. 

Bloom's taxonomy places six learning objectives in a hierarchical structure, where the first level is remembering and understanding previously learned information and the most advanced level is the ability to evaluate knowledge. Each level of the taxonomy is a prerequisite for the next, which means that you cannot skip a level. For example, you cannot evaluate knowledge without understanding it first. In general, the higher the taxonomic level you demonstrate, the better your grade. However, be aware that some exams may not have any taxonomic requirements beyond e.g. application. So remember to check your academic regulations so you know what is expected of you. 

How do you demonstrate Bloom's taxonomic levels? 

The table below will give you an idea of what actions are associated with the different levels in Bloom's taxonomy: 



  • Duplicate what has happened 

  • Mention facts, for example when, how many etc. 

  • Describe an observation 

  • Identify what is true and false 


  • Give an overview of... 

  • Explain what the main point was... 

  • Classify something based on specific characteristics 

  • Use a comparison to illustrate the differences between two things 

  • Give examples of... 


  • Apply a theory to data, a case or similar 

  • Apply a method to your own experiences 

  • Formulate your own questions about the topic 

  • Develop a set of instructions on the topic 


  • Compare with other cases and find similarities and differences between them 

  • Break down and categorise individual parts 

  • Extract key parts 

  • Identify underlying themes 

  • Identify problems 

  • Create useful distinctions and categories 

  • Explore motives, turning points and important perspectives 


  • Rank different solutions 

  • Discuss whether there are better solutions to the issue 

  • Criticise a perspective 

  • Recommend one solution instead of another 

  • Defend your point of view 

  • Argue why something is good or bad 


  • Invent new ways of using... 

  • Design one or two possible solutions to... 

  • Present possible scenarios for desirable changes 

  • Imagine how you would act in a situation 

  • Propose actions that can solve a problem 

The SOLO taxonomy

The SOLO taxonomy classifies students’ understanding of a subject into levels of complexity. 

The first levels means you understand individual aspects that you can recognise and describe. A deeper level of understanding would enable you to compare, discuss and relate. 

The taxonomy has a hierarchical structure, where each level is a prerequisite for the next. This means that you cannot skip levels. For example, you cannot relate without identifying. In general, the higher the taxonomic level you demonstrate, the better your grade. However, be aware that some exams may not have any taxonomic requirements beyond e.g. describing. Read more in the academic regulations for your programme. 

Using taxonomies in written assignments 

When you need to write an academic assignment, you can use a taxonomy to formulate your problem statement, structure the assignment and prioritise content. 

You can use a taxonomy to guide you during a written assignment, but keep in mind that you cannot skip the levels of a taxonomy, as each level is a prerequisite for the next. So even though a higher taxonomic level will probably result in a higher grade, any gaps in the lower taxonomic levels can drag your grade down. You should also be aware that not all assignments require meeting all taxonomic levels. 

Set and free-choice assignments

Set assignments 


Set assignments will typically ask you to answer some questions. Each question or sub-question will often cover one taxonomic level, which you must demonstrate that you have mastered. If you can work out the taxonomic level of the questions, it might be easier for you to decode what you are expected to do and which questions you should prioritise. 

Free-choice assignments 


It’s your responsibility to demonstrate all levels of a taxonomy in a free-choice assignment. A good written assignment goes beyond the explanatory level. A good problem statement that lays the groundwork for analysis or maybe even discussion and assessment can be helpful. 

Academic presentation forms

Academic presentation forms are the different "actions" you take while completing a written assignment. The different taxonomic levels are expressed through these various forms of presentation. 

Presentation forms at low taxonomic levels 

Academic presentation forms at the low taxonomic levels only require limited insight and independence because you are primarily reproducing and processing existing knowledge, e.g. when you are explaining a theory. In other words, you are transferring knowledge from a theory book into your assignment. 

Academic presentation forms at high taxonomic levels 

Academic presentation forms at the high taxonomic levels require deeper insight and more independence because you are using and producing knowledge. In other words, you’ve closed the book and are carrying out independent ‘academic actions’ such as analysing, discussing and assessing. 

There are also non-academic presentation forms that do not belong in a written assignment, e.g. feelings. 

Academic presentation forms are also closely related to certain sections of a written assignment.

Check the table below for an overview: 


Explanation / description

Provides a focused review of a topic, text or object, or treats a topic, text or object based on a specific objective.

Quoting, paraphrasing, referencing, describing, explaining, defining, analysing, characterising, transferring, exemplifying, identifying 


Divides a topic, text or object into components and compares it with a theory or compares similarities and differences with other objects, phenomena, topics, etc.  

classifies, categorises, compares, analyses 

Diskussion / Vurdering

Brings different points of view on a phenomenon into a text, and explains the different arguments to reach a consequence of the discussion or conclusion. 

Considers something on the basis of academically acceptable criteria. 

Theorises, interprets, discusses, evaluates, puts into perspective, guides. 

See also

Academic regulations

Orientate yourself in your curriculum on requirements for each individual subject in your programme.

Know the rules

Read about the rules in relation to exams at Aarhus University.

Avoid cheating in your task

It is important to know the rules and guidelines about exam cheating and plagiarism. AU Library guides you on how, so you can easily avoid it.

Podcast for students

Studiekammeraten is a podcast (in Danish) for students at the university. It is about the challenges and opportunities in student life. Both of the podcast hosts are student counsellors, and in each episode, they talk to students or experts about different aspects of life as a university student. Listen to the podcast here: 

The podcast is produced by the Student Counsellor at the Faculty of Health.