For student learning to take the desired direction, the purpose of the examination needs to be clear and the examination must also be perceived as appropriate and well chosen, in relation to the workload.

The way in which the examination is designed will determine what students engage in during the course. Students will focus on the knowledge and skills measured in the examination, therefore it is important that the examination reflects what is considered important, for example for future professional life. That way, students learn for life while they can focus on passing the course!

What does the examination format mean?

Below is a list of different types of examinations that will hopefully inspire you as a teacher to try out new ways of examining students.

Formative assessment aims to determine where the learner is in their learning, for decisions on what actions to take to move learning forward. Formative assessments thus aim to enable the teacher to support the student in his or her development and are for student learning. Forward-looking and frequent feedback develops learning and for feedback to be beneficial to learning it is important that it is given during the course of the work.


In order to obtain information on how students' knowledge develops during the course, teachers can use different types of tests. The idea is to let teachers know what they need to put extra effort into teaching and, in turn, to let students know how they are doing and what they need to work on more to pass the course.

Summative assessment is a form of assessment that summarises a person's overall knowledge at a specific point in time. The primary purpose of assessment is not to contribute to learning and the person being assessed does not always receive feedback explaining what he or she could have done differently.

Written examinations can be of various types. They can be traditional exams in an exam hall, quick tests to make sure everyone is keeping up, or tasks that are carried out over a longer period of time.


Formal written examination (in an exam hall)

Open book exam

Modified Essay Question, MEQ

Multiple choice questions

Take-home exam

Written assignments

Project work


Oral exams can be conducted in many different ways: individually or in groups, in seminars or on other occasions when the teacher asks questions for the student or the whole group to answer. Answers are given verbally or with a combination of verbal explanations and practical elements.

Oral examinations can often be seen as a learning opportunity and allow the student to go deeper into an issue.


Seminar or group discussion

Presentation to a "real" audience

In some subjects, practical examinations play a major role, and it would not be possible to achieve the objectives of some subjects without practical elements.


Clinical examination

Field examination

Professional examination

Examination with progressively more information




Digital exams

Student-constructed exams

Authentic exams