Aarhus University Seal

Online Oral exam

Brief description

Online oral examinations will be held via Zoom. The functions in Zoom mean that students can give presentations, preparation can take place in a separate room, and grading can be discussed while the student is temporarily absent from the room, usually by using the Waiting Room function.

As with any other exam, the aim is to test the extent to which the student has met the academic objectives. However, the online oral exam will vary from the traditional oral exam. We will review these differences below.

Tips for online oral examinations

On this page, you will find advice and recommendations on how to organise an online oral examination, as well as advice on how to prepare your students for this type of examination. Please note that the page does not contain guidelines and requirements for the type of examination. Check the sidebar to the right for links to specific guidelines.

Preparation for the examiner

Prepration for the examiner

There are some important things that you as the examiner must consider and which must be in place prior to conducting an online oral examination. 

1. Make sure you have set up and shared the link to the meeting room

  • Make sure that Zoom is updated on your computer. If you are unsure about how to do this, you can find instructions on how to use Zoom here    

  • If you need to set up a meeting in Zoom yourself, you can use the following guidelines:
  • In other cases, an administrative employee (e.g. course secretary or institute secretary) will set up the meeting for you. Follow the local guidelines for this procedure.
  • The link to the meeting can be shared via WISEflow, Brightspace or other. If relevant, you can also share the link with the students via your preferred platform for communication.

2. Check the guidelines

  • Check your faculty website for information and guidelines on how to conduct online oral examinations. Check the sidebar to the right for links to specific guidelines.    
  • See also guidelines for oral exams at kvalitet.au.dk

3. Be familiar with the exam process

  • The exam process varies depending on how you will need to use the Waiting Room, whether drawing questions is required, whether preparation time is included, whether it is an individual or group exam, etc. Read more about the process for online oral examinations.    

4. Check the technical setup

  • Make sure that you have tested the functions you will need to use in Zoom for the exam e.g. the Waiting Room and Breakout Rooms.
  • Make sure that you have a stable Internet connection.
  • Make sure that the sound is good, for example by using a headset    
  • Make sure that you know who to contact during the exam in the event of problems. Check the sidebar to the right for links to specific guidelines    
  • Consider your on-screen presence.

5. Discuss the exam process with the co-examiner

You can read more about collaboration with the co-examiner here.

6. Align expectations with students in advance

You can read more about preparing students here.

Prepare students

For online oral exams, it is extra important to ensure that the students are familiar with Zoom and that they are familiar with how the exam will be carried out. Below, you will find specific advice on how to support students both before and during the exam. 

1. Get to know Zoom

For the exam to take place as smoothly as possible, it is important that the students are familiar with the features of Zoom. For example, go over the following with students:

  • Correctly signing into Zoom via aarhusuniversity.zoom.us or signing in using the SSO (Single Sign On) feature. Furthermore, the students will need to ensure they have the latest version of Zoom.

  • Turning their camera and microphone off and on 

  • Moving the students in and out of the Waiting Room 

  • Sharing screens and sharing slides via the "Share Screen" function for presentations, etc.

  • Writing messages and sharing files via the "Chat" function 

  • If necessary, using the Whiteboard/blackboard function to draw or illustrate something live 

Please share this  technical guide to Zoom available via AU Studypedia  with the students and ask them to test the functions in their study group before the exam    

2. Define a clear framework for the exam  

Communicate clearly with the students about the exam. Rather too many details than too few. Providing students with clear expectations will hopefully reduce any worry or nervousness they may have in relation to the unfamiliar form of examination.   

  • Describe the type of examination

    • Provide clarity about the academic objectives and exam requirements in advance.
    • Remember to inform students about cheating at exams, so it is clear what is allowed and what is not. (Cheating at Exams – updated Corona version
  • Explain the exam process 
    • The time frames for the presentation, dialogue and deliberation    
    • Use of Waiting Room
    • The procedure for student presentations, for example using slides, whiteboard and screen sharing.
    • The procedure for drawing questions and time to prepare an answer to the exam question, if this is part of the exam
    • You may want to provide a guideline to the students. Click here to read an example of a guideline on oral examinations written by a lecturer.
  • Exchange of contact information 
    • If something goes wrong during the exam, it would be good for the students to know how to get in touch with you and for you to have their contact information as well. For example, telephone numbers, email addresses or similar.    

3.  Test the type of examination with the students 

You can give the students an opportunity to test the new exam situation and thereby make them more comfortable with the format. For example, you could: 

  • Demonstrate the exam process     
    Demonstrate how the exam will take place in Zoom. A student can volunteer as the examinee and another as co-examiner. Talk about the process as the demonstration unfolds. 
  • Ask the students to test the exam process in their study groups  
    The students can set up meetings in Zoom and carry out a mock exam with each other, where they take turns being the student, examiner and co-examiner. In this way, they practise their academic presentations and receive peer feedback from each other. This will give them a chance to test the Zoom roles of participant, co-host and host. Students can find additional tips and information about the online oral exam at AU Studypedia.
  • Hold mock exams  
    Let the students practice the exam situation with an assignment similar to the one that will be used for the real exam. The mock exam can replace the students’ oral presentations in class or as part of student teachers’ sessions during the semester. This will give students the opportunity to practice an assignment and situation similar to the one they will encounter during the online oral examinations.     

4.  Share guidance material with the students  

If the students are to have an online oral examination, you can refer them to AU Studypedia:

Collaboration with the co-examiner

1.  Meet online beforehand and do a run-through

It is a good idea to hold an online meeting before the exam, where the examiner and co-examiner informally talk about the exam process and make sure there are no technical problems 

2.  Make sure that the co-examiner has installed and updated Zoom and that they are familiar with the basic functions.

If necessary, share the Zoom guidelines for external examiners with the co-examiner

3. Go over the exam process

Go over the exam process, including the use of the Waiting Room before the exam begins and during deliberation, and the procedure for drawing questions, preparation time, etc. The lecturer is often responsible for managing the use of the Waiting Room, but make sure that the co-examiner is familiar with the process. You can assign the co-examiner the co-host role so they can help out in Zoom. 

4. Discuss your norms for online behaviour

Clarify when and under what circumstances the examiner and co-examiner can interrupt to pose questions. For example, will you wait until the student has finished their presentation, will you raise your hand, or will you speak up when you have something to say? 

5. Plan how to deal with technical problems

6.  Plan what to do if a student has technical issues

During the exam

The exam process

Please note that there may be different practices at the various faculties. Check the sidebar to the right for links to specific guidelines. The following is merely a general guideline.

The process in brief

  1. Set up a meeting in Zoom and send the link to the students via Brightspace or WISEflow depending on the specific exam guidelines.
  2. The examiner and co-examiner will enter the meeting some time before the exam starts. Please note that co-examiner may be in the Waiting Room, and must be let in by the examiner.
  3. The student will join the meeting and will be placed in the Waiting Room. As Host, you will be able to see who is in the Waiting Room by checking the Participants box
  4. The examiner will let the student into the meeting from the Waiting Room
  5. Conducting the exam:
    • If the exam does not include drawing questions and preparation time, the exam can begin as soon as the student enters the meeting.
    • If the exam includes drawing questions:
      • The student will choose a number and the examiner will send them the assignment that corresponds to the selected number. The assignment can be sent as a file over Zoom. The oral examination will begin immediately after.
    • If the exam includes drawing questions and preparation time:
      • Den studerende vælger et tal og eksaminator sender opgaven.
      • The examiner will then send the student to the Waiting Room. The examiner may simultaneously collect another student from the Waiting Room to conduct their exam after prep time. Once the student has been given their grade, another student will be let into the meeting to draw their question and then sent back out to prepare.
      • Once the preparation time is over, the examiner will collect the student from the Waiting Room.
    • Click the link to see examples of how to handle drawing questions for exams:    
  6. The examiner will then send the student back to the Waiting Room.
  7. Deliberation between examiner and co-examiner.
  8. The examiner will let the student into the meeting from the Waiting Room.
  9. The student is given their grade and feedback.
  10. The student leaves the meeting and the next student is retrieved from the Waiting Room.

Process for group exams

For group exams, the process is generally the same as the above. There will simply be more students in the same meeting. Remember to familiarise yourself with the guidelines. For example, you may:

  • Focus on speaking time among the students.
  • Use the Gallery View in Zoom so you can see all participants. You can encourage the co-examiner and students to do the same.

Good on-screen presence

Even though no one is physically present for an online oral exam, it is still important to create a relaxed atmosphere and make students feel comfortable during the exam.

You can find tips on how to create a relaxed atmosphere and how to adjust your presence on screen in the following guide:    

If technical problems arise

If there are technical problems during the exam, follow the guidelines described on your faculty website or AU's website about online teaching and exams. Follow the links below for information on how to deal with technical issues.


Please contact the editors at AU Educate if you have any questions about the content of the platform or if you need consultation on your teaching from one of the many skilled professionals at the Centre for Educational Development