Teaching & Learning

Overall grade assessment

Overall assessment of written paper and oral presentation

The requirement for the evaluation to be based on an overall assessment means that the exam regulations for the relevant type of exams (cf. below) must not contain provisions for the written and the oral elements respectively to be part of the final grade with pre-established weights or percentages, as the evaluation would then resemble separate evaluations which would subsequently be mathematically summed up to one grade on the basis of the weights used.

It would also be contrary to the requirement for an overall evaluation if the exam regulations specified that the oral element could only affect the grade for the written paper within a defined margin (e.g. plus/minus one grade) or by a defined percentage of this.

The evaluation must therefore be an overall evaluation of the overall performance, so that the examiners are free to decide on a grade after the oral performance and not limited by a pre-defined margin for the result. The above concerns the formal rules, i.e. what can be specified in exam regulations for the exams in question. However, this will not hinder that it may be expressed at examiners' meetings, in examiners' instructions or the like that for a specific type of exam, either the written or the oral element is expected to have the greater influence on the overall evaluation.

Weight of the written element (master's theses and the like)

If the written paper clearly constitutes a greater part of the effort, and is therefore the element most central in achieving the learning objectives for these exams (as is the case with e.g. the master's thesis), it will usually (i.e. unless special circumstances apply) be this element that constitutes the central basis of the evaluation, and the oral element will usually only have a marginal effect on the grade (e.g. used for 'fine-tuning'). Therefore it will also be reasonable for the examiners to share their views on the evaluation of the written work ahead of the oral examination to clarify whether they agree in their assessment.

It is only critical that there are no formal provisions to bind the examiners and thereby, in the (presumably few) situations where circumstances so warrant, prevent them from deviating from common practice. We do not mean situations in which it is documented or rendered probable that the examinee has not personally produced the exam paper, and the case is thus one of plagiarism or other form of cheating to some extent, as such situations must be dealt with according to the regulations for cheating. However, there may be cases in which the oral performance demonstrates that the examinee, despite the written exam paper being convincing, demonstrates a lack of basic knowledge and understanding of essential issues in the subject area, and it will therefore be well-founded to let the oral performance have significant influence on the grade for the overall performance. As a consequence, it will therefore also be possible in extreme cases that the oral performance demonstrates such an extensive and grave lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the issues in the subject area that the overall performance must be evaluated as failed, regardless of whether the written performance in itself is assessed at a high grade.

Similarly, there may be situations in which the examiners find the written exam paper questionable, but where the oral performance proves these doubts to be unfounded, as the examinee can account for the choices and assessments made in a convincing way. And in such cases it will be natural for the oral performance to be given relatively more weight than usually, so that the grade for the overall performance may be significantly higher than the assessment of the paper first suggested.

Weight of the oral element (oral examination with synopsis and the like) If the written element is of a limited extent and only serves as a basis for a broader oral examination in the syllabus (e.g. as at an oral exam based on a synopsis) it will usually (i.e. unless special circumstances apply) be the oral element that constitutes the central basis of the evaluation, and the written element (synopsis) will usually only have a marginal effect on the grade.

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