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Requirements for the exam

For the exam, you must show that you have achieved the skills and learning objectives of the course. But it is not always easy to understand the requirements.

How do I best demonstrate my skills when I go to the exam? When and how do I become an academic? What are my teacher's and teacher's expectations of me? Do I meet the academic requirements of the University?

Going to the exam can be associated with many questions for both working methods and the academic requirements you must meet.


Understand exam requirements through taxonomies

The requirements that are placed on you for the exam are related to the learning objectives of the course, which are stated in your curriculum. The learning objectives describe the knowledge, skills and competences you can achieve in the subject. Learning objectives are often formulated from a taxonomy, which is a description of different levels of learning. You can use taxonomies to understand what is expected of you for the exam.

The most commonly used taxonomies at Aarhus University are bloom's taxonomy and the SOLO taxonomy, which you can read about below. However, be aware that in your education a different taxonomy can be used.

Blooms taxonomy

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

Bloom's taxonomy places six learning objectives in a hierarchical structure where, at the simplest levels, one can memorize and understand, and the more advanced levels can evaluate and create. Each step of the taxonomy is a prerequisite for the next, which means that you cannot skip levels; for example, you cannot assess without understanding. In general, it can be said that the higher a taxonomic level you demonstrate being able to work at, the higher grade you get. But be aware that some exams may not impose higher taxonomic requirements than, for example, application. Therefore, read your curriculum so you know what is expected of you.

How do you demonstrate Bloom's taxonomic levels?

The table below provides inspiration for the actions associated with each level of Bloom's taxonomy:

Taxonomic level Relevant actions


  • Reproduce what has happened

  • Mention facts, such as when, how many, etc.

  • Describe an observation

  • Identify what is true and false.


  • Provide an overview of …

  • Explain what the main point was

  • Classifying something based on certain characteristics

  • Make a comparison to illustrate the differences between two things

  • Give examples of ...


  • Apply a theory to a case, data or equivalent

  • Apply a method to your own experience

  • Formulate your own questions on the topic

  • Develop a set of instructions based on the topic


  • Compare with other cases, as well as find similarities and differences

  • Break down and categorize individual parts

  • Extract key parts

  • Identifying underlying themes

  • Identifying problems

  • Creating useful distinctions and categories

  • Examine motives, turning points and important perspectives


  • Rank different solutions

  • Discuss whether there are better solutions to the problem

  • Criticizing a perspective

  • Recommend a solution to others

  • Defend your point of view

  • Arguing why something is good or bad

  • Invent new ways of application...

  • Identify one or two possible solutions...

  • Put forward possible scenarios for desirable changes

  • Imagine how you would act in a situation

  • Develop suggestions for actions that can solve a problem


The SOLO taxonomy divides students ' understanding of the subject into levels of complexity.

At the lowest levels, you understand individual parts that you can recognize and describe, while with a deeper understanding you can compare, discuss and perspective.

The taxonomy is a hierarchical structure in which each step is a prerequisite for the next. This means that one cannot skip levels; for example, you cannot relate without identifying. In general, it can be said that the higher a taxonomic level you demonstrate being able to work at, the higher grade you get. But be aware that some exams may not impose higher taxonomic requirements than, for example, describing. Therefore, read your curriculum.

Use taxonomies in written assignments

When writing an academic assignment, you can also use a taxonomy - to formulate your problem statement, to structure the assignment and to prioritize in the content.

In written assignments, you can be guided by the taxonomies, but you must remember that you cannot skip levels in the taxonomies, since each stage is a prerequisite for the next. So while a higher taxonomic level is likely to result in a higher grade, it can drag down if there are gaps in the lower taxonomic levels. You should also be aware that not all tasks require all taxonomic levels.

vis der er huller i de lavere taksonomiske niveauer. Du skal også være opmærksom på, at ikke alle opgaver kræver alle taksonomiske niveauer.

Bound and free tasks

Bound tasks For a specific task, you will typically be asked some questions. Each question or sub-question will often cover one taxonomic level, which you must demonstrate that you master in answering. If you can see through the taxonomic level of the questions, it can be easier for you to decode what you really need - and which questions you should prioritize the most.
Free tasks In a free assignment, it is your own responsibility that you demonstrate all the steps of taxonomy. So, a good task is not only at an explanatory level. A good problem formulation, which is up for analysis and maybe even discussion or assessment, can help you.

Academic forms of presentation

Academic forms of representation are the different “actions” you do when writing an assignment. It is through the forms of representation that the taxonomic levels are expressed.

Forms of production at low taxonomic levels

Academic forms of presentation at the low taxonomic levels require limited insight and independence, because you primarily reproduce and process existing knowledge, e.g. when you explain a theory. You could say that you have a theory book open and transfer knowledge from the book into your assignment.

Forms of production at high taxonomic levels

The academic forms of representation at the high taxonomic levels, on the other hand, require greater insight and more independence because you apply and produce knowledge. Here you could say that you have slammed the book in and have to think for yourself and show that you can independently perform “academic actions” such as analyzing, discussing and assessing.

There are also non-academic forms of representation, such as thinking and feeling, which do not belong in an academic assignment.

See academic forms of presentation are also closely related to certain parts of the content elements of the thesis. Get an overview of the context below:

The tasks .... Description Academic forms of presentation
Statement / description Provides a focused review of a topic, text, object, or purpose. Quote, paraphrase, reference, describe, account for, Define, explain, characterize, transmit, exemplify, identify


Divides a subject, a text, an object into its constituent parts and compares with either theory, or compares similarities and differences with other objects, phenomena, subjects, etc. classify, categorize, compare, compare, analyze
Discussion / Assessment Brings different points of view on the same phenomenon into one text, sets out the different arguments in order to finally arrive at a consequence of the discussion or conclusion.

Take a position on something based on professionally acceptable criteria.

theorize, interpret, discuss, evaluate, perspective, guide

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.

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.