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Oral exam

Oral exam

For an oral exam, you have to perform intensely for a short time, and this requires special preparation. For that, you get a lot of good advice here.

Often, the oral exam begins with you as a student giving a presentation on a specific topic or problem you have prepared from home. After that, a dialogue with the teacher and The Examiner opens, where you must answer questions about your presentation and be examined in the subject's curriculum. However, an oral exam can also take the form of an oral defense of an assignment you have submitted prior to the oral exam. In addition, it can take place with physical presence or online via e.g. Zoom.

On this page you will find good advice and tips on how best to prepare for an oral exam, whether it takes place online or with a physical presence.

Prepare well

Prepare your presentation.

A good oral presentation is well prepared and well structured. Therefore, be sure to prepare your presentation; what will you say and in what order. Often there is time to say much less than you think, in the time you have available. By preparing the presentation thoroughly, you can make the most of the time the presentation may take.   

Read the material to understand, not to memorize.

Think in points, not in memorization, when reading up for exams. The exam is also a way of learning, and you learn the material not by being able to repeat it, but by understanding it. In order to verbally convey the material and thoroughly answer questions for the exam, you need to understand and be able to explain the syllabus. Consider which reading strategy will give you the best exam reading.

Practice your dissemination

Practice your communication - several times.

By practicing your presentation, you will become more familiar with both the content and the order, and you will feel more comfortable and comfortable in the presentation for the exam. You also need to practice the presentation to be sure that the presentation you have prepared is appropriate for the time you have available. Keep in mind that the tone of voice, pace of speech and gestures reinforce the message and do not disturb or drown it out. Feel free to practice your presentation by recording yourself to see what others see. You can also train your prepared presentation with your study group.

Train the dissemination with the study group.

In the study group, you can train your introductory presentation for the oral exam. By constructing an exam situation, you train your oral communication and possibly get an impression of how it feels to get nervous. For example, you can follow the 5 steps to practice presentations in groups.

On the day of the exam

Talk to others.

When you physically show up for an exam, you will usually greet and talk to a fellow student just before the exam. It can be soothing in the situation, and a short conversation can also help warm up the voice.

For an online exam, it may be a good idea to arrange with a fellow student, a friend or a family member that you call before the exam – maybe just to tell you that you are going to the exam, calm your nerves and turn your thoughts on this.

Warm up just before the exam.

Stretch out and relax so that you feel physically comfortable and so that you get a deep and calm breathing established. Someone needs to close their eyes and go into their own body and mind. It gives calm and confidence.

Also warm up your voice so that it is ready to perform - especially a mushy morning voice benefits from just getting started before you have to enter the exam room.

The examiner and co-examiner are there to help.

Remember that they ask questions to help you live up to the goals and make your performance as good as possible. Therefore, think over your communication with the Examiner and the co-examiner. If there is a question you do not understand, ask them to ask in another way, it is completely legal.

Accept your nervousness.

Be prepared for the fact that you can get nervous, and accept it if it happens, instead of countering your nervousness. Read more about dealing with nervousness here.

After the exam

Share your experience

Both good and less good exam experiences can be nice to share with others, as the exam will often be the result of an intensive work process, which can be nice to finish. At an exam with physical presence, it will often be obvious to turn the exam with the fellow students who are also present. For an online exam, you have to seek out the interview yourself. Consider whether you should make an appointment for you to call a friend or family member to reverse your exam experience.


The exam is over, you survived and might prefer to forget about exam reading. But already next semester, the next exam period lies in wait. Therefore, spend just 10-15 minutes picking up on your exam preparation strategy: what worked well and what do you want to change for the next time? You will be better at reading for exams if you use your experience in the future.

Online oral exam

An online oral exam will usually take place very similar to an oral exam with a physical presence. Take a look at the advice above. However, there are few things that are particular to the online exam that you should be aware of.

Become familiar with the form of the exam


Det er vigtigt, at du får afprøvet og øvet dig i det format, som du skal til eksamen i. I en online mundtlig eksamen i Zoom, vil der være lidt andre omstændigheder end ved en mundtlig eksamen, hvor både du og eksaminatorer er fysisk til stede. Du vil eksempelvis ikke kunne hilse på eksaminatorer med et håndtryk, og det kan føles anderledes at bryde ind for at sige noget, og det kan virke fremmed at snakke længe ad gangen, hvis eksaminator eller censor har slukket deres mikrofoner, mens du taler. Du kan læse mere om online mødekultur her.

Du bliver højst sandsynligt ledt ind i et online waiting room, før du hentes ind i det egentlige online eksamensrum. Tjek op på eventuelle retningslinjer i god tid, eller spørg din underviser, hvis du er i tvivl herom.

Prøv det studiegruppen

Du kan med fordel vende nogle af dine tanker om eksamensformen med din studiegruppe, eksempelvis ved at afprøve den med et par medstuderende, hvor I skiftevis agerer censor, eksaminator og eksaminand. I kan altså lave en slags rollespil for blandt andet at få en fornemmelse af, hvor længe 20 minutters online eksamination i virkeligheden føles som, hvordan samtalen flyder, når der stilles spørgsmål og gives svar, samt hvordan det føles at blive set via webcam.


Make sure you familiarize yourself with the platform Zoom, where your exam will take place. It will provide you with the best starting point for your online exam to progress as smoothly as possible. In addition, experience with the platform will be a good tool against concerns about the platform that will add to your anxiety about the exam. It is therefore vital that you become acquainted with the platform and its features before the exam. Consider what tools you need to use during the exam - e.g sharing your screen, illustrating something on a whiteboard. In essence, it is a good idea to make sure you can do or have the following:

  • Share your screen
  • Share slides and other documents
  • Use the whiteboard tool to draw or illustrate something live
  • A stable internet connection
  • High quality audio in- and output - Use a headset if possible
  • Change your name in Zoom. You may have to provide either your AU ID or your full name.

It is a good idea to make an appointment with your study group, exam group or a couple of fellow students to test Zoom together. In Zoom, you can try out features such as sharing slides, using a whiteboard, sharing a file in the chat, and testing the audio and video quality. Provide feedback to each other on, for example, the audio and video. It also gives you the opportunity to practice your academic presentations and get feedback on its content. Be aware of the roles in Zoom, e.g. whether you are a host, co-host or participant. For the exam you will, as a rule, be a participant. In order for everyone in the group to try out all roles, the person setting up the meeting can change the roles in the tab “participants”, where the creator can give the role of host each person in turn.


Your home exam-room


Some courses may may require you, as the examinee, to sit in a room with one entrance and, if necessary, provide a 360 degree view of the room at the beginning of the exam to ensure that no persons or unauthorised aids are present, for example tablets/smartphones or similar that may be used to communicate with others. Check up on any guidelines well in advance or ask your teacher if you have any doubts.

It can be a requirement in some courses that you show your university-ID or some other kind of ID. So it can be a good idea to have these near you, when you attend the exam.


Consider how best to prepare for the physical space you need to sit in for an exam. An online exam will often take place in familiar surroundings, such as at home in your own living room or bedroom. This is where we usually relax and not a place where we usually have to "be in the spotlight" as we are in an exam situation. Try to create a home exam room where you sit comfortably and quietly without distractions.

Do not sit with your back to a strong light source (like a window), since this could make it hard for the examinators to see you, and thereby making it harder to decode your body language and facial expression.


Make sure that authorized tools are available at hand without having to remove yourself from the screen. Getting up or moving out of the picture can be disruptive to the exam’s flow. Consider whether you need a pen and paper, a watch, so that you may keep track of time, and remember to use a headset to get the best possible audio. You can read more about online meeting culture at online course work.

Also, make sure you have some remedies that provide some comfort. Usually, you can find water in an exam room, which is good to alleviate your anxiety or dry in the mouth along the way

If you have any doubts about how to technically commit to the online oral exam, you can find support in our technical guides for Zoom. Please try the platform by yourself and with your study group before the exam is held.

See also this

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.

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.