Oral examination via Zoom: the first experiences

Due to the coronavirus situation, many of this year’s exams are held online. In April, the first oral exams via Zoom took place at Aarhus BSS and it was a good experience, says Associate Professor Franziska Günzel-Jensen. Here, she offers her five best tips on how to conduct online oral exams.

2020.05.25 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

Associate Professor Franziska Günzel-Jensen was the first to conduct oral exams via Zoom at Aarhus BSS. Photo: AU Foto


At Aarhus University, the coronavirus crisis has, among other things, entailed that the traditional green tablecloth used for exams has been replaced by online exams for many students and lecturers.  This applies for both written and oral exams where many are held via the video platform Zoom for the first time.

At Aarhus BSS, the first oral Zoom exams took place as early as April. Here Associate Professor Franziska Günzel-Jensen from the Department of Management examined 28 students over three days in the subject of Entrepreneurship. 

She is glad that she and the students had the opportunity to complete the course by means of an oral exam despite the coronavirus crisis - even though it took place in a different form than usual. And the exam itself was actually a very good experience, she says:

“I’m very positively surprised by how well the oral Zoom examination went. The students have also given good feedback. I had no previous experience with Zoom but the system is very easy to use and the technique worked well. Of course, the framework is somewhat different but all things considered, it is a good experience that you should not be nervous about.”

A great effort is paying off

Vice-dean for education, Per Andersen, is pleased with the first positive experiences with oral online exams:

“Even though oral online exams are a new experience for all parties, I’m sure that we can handle this task,” he says. “All lecturers and supervisors have made a huge effort during the entire shutdown period, and our students can be comfortable about their exams - also online exams.  The students are assessed according to the learning objectives - not the exam form.”

Per Andersen would also like to express his appreciation for the great effort that the academic environments and the individual lecturers have made to convert the exams into an online format.

“The first positive experiences with oral online exams clearly show that the great effort is paying off,” he says. “We will naturally follow up on the experiences from this exam period and it will be interesting to see if and how we can use what we have learned in the future.”

Handling cheating at exams

One of the great challenges of online exams is how to handle exam cheating. Thus, AU has made a set of rules and guidelines that you as an examiner should be particularly aware of in connection with online exams. You can find the guidelines here (link).

Franziska Günzel-Jensen’s 5 tips for oral exams via Zoom

  1. Look forward to it and see it as an opportunity to complete your courses in a good way.
  2. Tell your students to be prepared as if it was an ordinary exam. In an online examination, the students still need to perform, be presentable, etc. 
  3. Plan your exam days so it makes sense according to your circumstances at home.  Examine max. 12 students a day and take a break of e.g. 10 minutes between each exam.
  4. Test the technique well in advance. It is a good idea to start the online room ½ hour in advance.  If your screen freezes during the exam, it will recover if you and the co-examiner turn off your microphones and turn them on again.
  5. Consider your feedback thoroughly. Remember that you cannot use body language. Therefore, be more explicit if the students are heading down a wrong track. 

Important links for online exams: 

For more information:

Article: Zoom is safe to use for exams thanks to new updates and guidelines

Aarhus BSS