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Exam preperation during Corona

Exam preparation during Corona

A lot of things have changed due to the consequences of the Corona virus – it´s therefore perfectly normal, if you lose orientation from time to time - you are far from alone. We have gathered some advice to help you stay motivated and to support you in preparing for your online exams.

Motivation, planning and self-discipline are more important than ever. Here at ITU Student you can find tips to stay motivated and help to plan your exam period. You can also read the general guidelines for this semesters online oral exams or the study and Career Guidance's good advices on oral presentations.

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Online examination - What is different

What is normal?
Even though a lot of things have changed during these last months, exams are still exams! Examiners will be testing the boundaries of your knowledge and your competences to be able to grade you. Nothing has changed – this is the same as before the corona-crisis.

What is new?
Normally we get a lot of input, support, and energy from non-verbal communication. Imagine a normal exam situation, where you meet your peers outside the examination classroom. They are smiling at you, maybe giving you a hug. You all share and feel the energy in the waiting area. When your examiners invite you in, they also smile and ask you how you are doing - all to make you feel comfortable. During the examination they will support you with small nods and use their body language to encourage you to go on. These small non-verbal elements are challenged in the online setting. It is very hard for you to ‘read’ your examiners, and you will not experience the same energy or nonverbal support as you are used to. Not because your examiners are not up for it, simple because this is very difficult online. 

What to do?
Be prepared for this! You must find a way to support your self during the examination. Ask yourself how you can keep the energy high and not rely on others non-verbal cheers. Maybe you need post-its around your screen to keep up the spirit and the energy!  

Be aware of critical thoughts! Be prepared how to handle your thoughts and emotions during the exams. Some studies show that it only takes one and a half second of silence in an online meeting, before people start having critical thoughts. It is not hard to imagine. ‘Was that the wrong answer’, I’m I just babbling a long here’, ‘Do they follow me at all’. Now that you know that you might experience these critical thoughts because you do not receive all the non-verbal input you are used to, try to park them!  

Use meta-communication Say it out loud if you need a minute to think. Or ask your examiners whether they are following you if you think they are too quiet. In short, ask and say the things that might be obvious in the physical meeting, but is challenged in the online setting. 


Know what you should be able to

Even though a lot has changed due to corona, a lot of things also stay the same, when it comes to exams.

  • Make clear what you are expected to be able to do. Exams are rarely just about being able to report the course literature, but also about what you are able to do with it. The Intended Learning outcomes can be a useful way to understand what you are expected to be able to do at an exam. Read more below.
  • Use the exam preparation as an opportunity to learn. You can stage yourself as either the victim of an exam, or as the driving force for new knowledge. Choose the latter!
  • Read the literature to understand it! Do not just read the course curriculum to memorize it. Work with it to understand it and compare it to what you already know.
  • Know your weak points – don’t ignore them. Make sure also to study on the parts that are a bit blurry to you.

The Intended Learning Outcomes

During an exam, you are evaluated on your ability to fulfill the course goals, and to what extent you are able to meet them in a satisfactory way. The examiners will base the assessment on an overall evaluation, where your performance is looked upon in its entirety.

Your examiner and the external examiner will do this based on the Intended Learning Outcomes of the course. The Intended Learning outcomes are defined in the course description in the course base.

SOLO taxonomy

Intended Learning Outcomes are the objectives and goals in the course, and are defined by the SOLO taxonomy.

This taxonomy divides a number of verbs into four levels that are each individually increasing in difficulty. For example, "identify" is placed on a lower level than "reflect", which indicates how you need a better understanding of the course content in order to be able to reflect upon it.

Using the Intended Learning Outcomes to prepare for an exam

Since the Intended Learning Outcomes are used to determine your grade at the exam, you can use them in your exam preparation as well.

Use them as a guide to indicate what level you are supposed to be able to understand the course content. Are you supposed to be able to analyse a problem, or is it enough for you to be able to describe it?

If you are able to fulfill all the Intended Learning Outcomes successfully, you will receive the grade 12.

You can read more about exam preparation and study skills in the following books:

  • 'Studieteknik - eller kunsten at studere', Thomas Harboe and Jakob Ravn
  • 'Method of Study for International Students', Thomas Harboe and Rikke von Müllen

Prepare for oral examination

  • Read the exam guide. Make sure to read the exam guide from your Course Manager thoroughly before your exam. If you have any doubts – ask you Course Manager! You should receive this a minimum of 7 days before your exam.
  • Go through the general guidelines for oral exams. Read the general guidelines for online oral exams you find the link below.
  • Practice, practice, practice! It makes a difference! Performing well in exams is not just about knowing all your stuff or being smarter than everybody else. It is very much about how you present your knowledge.
  • Train your communication skills. Your posture, your tone of voice and your body language. This is also relevant online! Find a link for a guide on oral presentaions below.
  • Try to record a video, while you practice. Or ask a peer/your mother to give you feedback on both the content and your presentations skills.
  • Make a plan. Specify to yourself, what you will be doing on the actual day of your exam. What do you need to do in order to stay calm and get hold of your nerves? Consider how long before the time of your exam, you will log in to the exam room. Prepare for waiting time
  • Focus on the good things on being examined in your own home. Some students, who have already had this experience, have highlighted, that it is actually nice and calm to sit at home, where you feel safe. You are not interrupted by people around you before you enter the examination room.

And remember!

    • Your lecturer and external examiner ask questions to help you fulfill the course goals. Enter the discussion with a positive attitude and do not be afraid to ask them to elaborate or rephrase their questions if you need it.
    • They are not your enemy – they will help you – and basically just want you to perform well.
    • Online examination is also new to them. You will help each other get a long.


    At the day of the exam

    • Be sure that you have tested all the technique. Find more information below.
    • Make sure that you sit in your best spot – where you will feel comfortable, and that you have everything you need within your reach.
    • Set up a nice background, if you are not comfortable with showing your dirty laundry laying on bed.
    • Don’t be afraid to take short breaks under your examination – it makes sense to use time to think, when you are asked questions.

    Below you can see some advises for your exam from Kasper and Julie

    Do you worry too much

    When normal life as we know it is put on hold for a period, it is normal that we worry more frequently. This might affect your sleep and general well-being - and that is not ideal in terms of your exam preparation.

    Try to take control of your thoughts and concerns – instead of letting them take over your mind. Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen and how likely is that scenario?

    If necessary, allow yourself to worry 15 minutes a day. Any concerns that arise outside of this period should be stopped. For instance, by writing them down and then physically putting them aside.

    Contact the Student Counselling if you find it hard to let go of your concern and negative thoughts.

    Find help

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    Nervousness and Anxiety

    If you feel too nervousness or anxious about your exams it can be a good idea to ask for help to handle these feelings.

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    Student Counselling

    Student Counselling have different offers for students - please have a look at their website.

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    Contact Study & Career Guidance

    Contact us with any doubt.