Digital examinations

The following information is regularly updated and amended.

Legal basis

In order to guarantee the reliable continuation of studies, the University of Tübingen has passed a charter complementing the existing study and examination regulations applicable to the university’s degree programs, enabling examinations to be conducted by suitable electronic means – at least for the duration of the 2020 summer semester.

Teaching and Examination Charter for the 2020 Summer Semester (Date: 27.04.2020)  

Summary of the new rules of the Teaching and Examination Charter

State Rectors’ Conference Guide: How can we enable examinations in the corona crisis? (Date: 28.04.2020)

LRK Studies Taskforce Guide: The challenge: Examination phase summer semester 2020 (Date: 29.5.2020)

This website provides information on how to conduct digital examinations properly. The Teaching and Examination Charter for the 2020 Summer Semester complements all existing study and examination regulations at the University of Tübingen and enables us to ensure maximum flexibility in coping with the corona pandemic. It allows the form of examination to be varied if this makes it possible to conduct an examination. In particular it enables electronic aids to be used in the process. It also allows us as a university to adopt new methods and apply novel forms of examination by use of modern technology in keeping with the times.

If you still wish to conduct attended examinations, compliance with the university’s infection protection plan standards (p. 18ff) is required.

The following points should be observed when conducting digital examinations:

Principle of equal opportunities

Naturally the legal principles of a fair examination procedure must also be followed when conducting digital examinations, and in particular the principle of equal opportunity. For instance, as far as possible all students should be allowed the opportunity to take part in these novel examinations. Alternative offerings should be provided for those who cannot do so. In addition, participation in digital examinations must always remain voluntary. Individuals who cannot be examined or are not willing to sit digital examinations must not suffer any detriment in the form of the loss of the right to be examined. Students must also have the opportunity to try out and familiarize themselves ahead of time with the systems used in the context of examining.

Identity checks

In order to guarantee a fair procedure, the possibility of cheating must as far as possible be minimised. To this end, checking the identity of the examination candidate is absolutely necessary. For oral examinations via video this can for example be ensured by the examination candidate holding a form of photographic ID up to the webcam. Written assignments should be submitted via ILIAS and Moodle and therefore using the personalized access of the student in question (university e-mail address and password). Other means of identification (e.g. ‘proctored exams’) are not currently planned.

Aids & data protection

Forms of examination in which aids either cannot be profitably used (especially oral examinations) or else are broadly approved (term papers or open book exams) are also suitable. In addition all relevant declarations must be made, confirming that the work is done independently (see model declaration about use of aids). For all examinations that involve the use of electronic means of transmission, data protection requirements must also be observed. If necessary, the examination candidate must consent to the terms of use of the relevant platform (this takes place after the first log-in with ILIAS, for example). In the case of digital oral examinations that use the video function, the consent of the examination candidate to the processing of their personal data must also be given (see Declaration of consent to the processing of personal data; in the case of digital written exams via ILIAS this additional consent is not necessary).

Sample declarations in relation to digital examinations
Sample declaration on digital written examinations (german form)
Sample declaration on digital oral examinations (german form)

Declaration of consent
Declaration of consent to the processing of personal data for oral examinations (german form)


Important note about the declarations

The examination process is an administrative procedure; therefore German, as the official language (§ 23 LVwVfG), applies. For this reason, all substantive declarations must be submitted in German. This applies equally to declarations made in the examination process. Please use the forms supplied on our website as we cannot verify the contents of individually-drafted declarations.

A courtesy translation may be supplied for students who do not speak German. It informs the student of the contents of the declaration which they must submit in German. A translation is therefore a courtesy which cannot replace the German original.

Any translation must therefore be a true and complete reproduction of the meaning of the original. It must be a faithful translation of the original. Please therefore use the translation we provide.

Sample declarations in relation to digital examinations
Sample declaration on digital written examinations
Sample declaration on digital oral examinations

Declaration of consent
Declaration of consent to the processing of personal data for oral examinations

What platforms can be used for digital examinations?

For written exams:

  • Moodle

For oral exams:

The above systems comply with data protection requirements.

General notes on teaching methodology and implementation

A range of familiar forms of examination are now increasingly integrated into the online context, e.g. term papers, translations or essays.

Objectives, skills, assessment criteria
When using new or unusual forms of examination, as a teacher you should firstly review which objectives and skills you are addressing and secondly set the assessment criteria and ensure they are transparent. An important aspect here is also the consideration of how students will receive feedback and how much effort is involved in marking and feedback.

Formulation of assignments and introduction to technical operation
Care must be taken to formulate the set assignments clearly and ensure students receive an introduction to the technical operation of the tools they are required to use.

You can set deadlines for written examinations on the platforms so you can allow different amounts of time for undertaking a task. The more individual the assignment, the longer the amount of time allowed can be (because the advantage of communication with other students is smaller). Technical problems are of minor importance here, because the systems are only required for a brief download or upload within an extended period of time.

Possible written digital examination work

The list of examples includes alternatives to written exams and term papers which can be successfully implemented online. This is not a complete list and will be amended as time goes on. Please note that the students should give a declaration with each digital written examination (see above Aids & data protection).


Essays, critiques, translations, assignments

For assignments like this, the exercise and/or assignment submission tool can be used in ILIAS/Moodle. You can set a deadline for submission.

There are numerous possibilities as regards actual topics: a summary of the literature, critical commentary on a theorem, first steps towards a research paper, picking out a sentence/key word that calls for commentary, etc. The important thing is to define a number of characters as guidance or give a set maximum or minimum.

Feedback can be given to the students directly via the system. As well as individual feedback, peer feedback is also possible, with assignation taking place automatically and randomly (ILIAS). Peer feedback requires a certain introduction, however experience has shown that students gain a lot from it. You could also provide a sample solution as feedback.

Assignments like this can be set several times as ‘minor’ assignments to guide and support to the learning process. If there are multiple submissions over the course of a semester you can also guarantee that the students familiarize themselves with the relevant tools; at the same time, such ‘continuous assessment’ can ease the tendency for examination work to pile up at the end of the semester. Another option then is to assess e.g. only two of three submissions.

Digital examination papers – ‘minor written exams’

Minor written exams with multiple free-text questions are also an option. A document with the questions is provided to the student to download; it has to be completed – within a fairly short time of a few hours – and returned (also as an exercise and/or assignment submission). Examinations like this are sometimes also known as ‘take home exams’.

Case work/case analysis

This written form of examination can be conducted individually or also – on larger courses – as group work. It requires a detailed case study in the form of text and possibly also video material. Analytical steps can be worked through jointly or stipulated; this can also allow for a problem-based learning approach. Solutions to case studies can also be developed. Here too a detailed case study is needed.

Cf. also presentation by the University of Bern with additional links to case work with problem-based learning and developing solutions to case studies.

Cf. also presentation by the University of Bern with additional links to case work with problem-based learning and developing solutions to case studies.


A poster can also be successfully submitted online (e.g. possibly as a replacement for a talk). Where necessary a hand-drawn poster can be photographed and submitted. The poster can also be supplied with an accompanying text. After that it can be shared with the entire class and then considered and discussed in a shared virtual gallery walk.


The analogue portfolio is a folder containing various pieces, e.g. in the case of an artist these are various work samples. The portfolio that is used for university teaching contains various assignments, thoughts on a subject and/or on various issues. In its online form the pieces may be texts, but also photos, links, videos, etc. As a rule a portfolio is kept for a full semester and handed in at the end. It is however also possible to consider a shorter period. It is best to decide in advance on what parts of the portfolio are included in assessment. Conceptual discussions are less suited to this.

E-portfolios can be managed online via ILIAS. Students can set this up themselves using the ‘personal desk’ and then make it available to the teacher at the end of the semester. Exercise/assignment submission can also be used for this in ILIAS and in Moodle. In this case, the students receive a ready-structured document at the beginning which is used as the basis for an e-portfolio and can be appropriately completed over the course of the semester.

Example: Reading portfolio – the students compile a summary of the primary/ secondary literature they have read, e.g. summary, responding to questions asked by the teacher, correct bibliographical details and ‘lucky finds’, etc.

Digital written examinations

Now you can also conduct digital written exams on a completely newly-established ILIAS examination system catullus.uni-tuebingen.de in the period from mid-July to mid-August. When planning such examinations that are taken on a private PC at home, it must be considered that it is impossible to monitor the use of aids. Therefore, the open book form of examination should be considered.

The scale of the new examination system is large enough to permit a large number of written exams to be conducted. Theoretically (practical trials are still to be carried out) it is now possible to conduct digital examinations with several hundred participants.

Please note: the examination server is not available from 21-28 September 2020 (inclusive).

Preparing a digital written examination

Besides the normal exam planning as regards actual content and questions, the following organisational steps are necessary:

  • Registrations for the exams must take place via ALMA and ILIAS (not otherwise possible at the moment). Students must be informed about this.
  • Compulsory application to conduct a digital written exam using the ILIAS examination system: to make it easier to estimate demand, please use this form to inform us definitively if you want to conduct a digital written exam. Please send us your application for a digital exam at least two weeks before the planned examination date. You will then receive confirmation.
  • Ensure that the declaration on digital written examinations (includes declaration of own work and consent to the online examination) is submitted. This may be incorporated technically in the registration, or if this is not possible submitted via scan or image file.
  • Plan a test run for the students
  • Arrange a contact – telephone, e-mail – for technical emergencies during the written exam
  • Specify the permitted aids (optimally ‘open book exam’)

To conduct digital written exams we can offer two standard scenarios with different ILIAS tools: the testing tool and the exercise tool.

Scenario: conducting an examination using the ILIAS testing tool

The testing tool offers varied types of question to create your exam paper, from simple free-text questions through cloze tests to multiple choice questions. For many types of question marking can be assisted by a preliminary IT-based check. However final assessment of the written exam must always be carried out by the teacher, who has to be able to check the score and make manual changes, including subsequent changes to the grading. Please note that writing questions that can be checked using IT involves considerable effort. When sitting written exams the students must have a consistently reliable Internet connection. An online examination must be configured by the examiner so that the answers input are automatically saved by the system.

Actual implementation using the ILIAS testing tool

  • Create individual exam questions using the different types of question; it is also possible to incorporate various media.
  • For questions that can be checked using IT: set the points awarded in the preliminary check. Awarding minus/malus points is not permitted. That is, although malus points are permitted within an MC question, the final score for a question can never be less than 0 points, i.e. carrying over minus points from the question is not permitted. Alternatively, MC questions can only be awarded points when answered correctly in full, i.e. all the correct answers are selected. However this is detrimental to students who have selected two of three correct answers and as a result receive no points instead of a possible two.
  • Set up the examination (e.g. sequence of questions, where relevant password for written exam, determining which students may take part and much more); there is also a template for this which contains all the essential settings.
  • Set a date/deadline: When is the written exam available, how long are students allowed to work on it? Set relevant dates and times.
  • Exam results must not be displayed directly in ILIAS. Notification of the results comes from the Central Examination Office.

Scenario: conducting an examination using the ILIAS exercise tool

The advantage of this scenario is that the actual written exam is done offline and the students are not reliant on a consistently reliable Internet connection for an extended period. The Internet connection is only needed at the start and end of the written exam. The exam questions are compiled in a document as normal.

Actual implementation using the ILIAS exercise tool

  • Create exam questions e.g. as PDF document, upload to exercise
  • Instructions: In what form should the work be uploaded? Besides texts/assignments written on the computer it is also conceivable that hand-written work is photographed and uploaded as a photo file.
  • Set a date/deadline in exercise pool: When is the written exam available, how long are students allowed to work on it, what is the deadline for handing in the solution? Set relevant dates and times. 

Notes on planning electronic written exams

Notes on planning electronic written exams: Handreichung auf Ovidius.
Sie enthält Informationen zum Ablauf der Prüfungsorganisation bei Klausuren auf dem Prüfungssystem, Antworten auf häufige Fragen und weitere Hinweise.

Assessment, archiving and students’ right to check exam records

Still in development.


Videos, screencasts and podcasts

Recordings with PowerPoint and related soundtrack could be carried out similarly to e.g. talks as examination work. Also conceivable are screencasts that demonstrate programming or applications of certain programs or present calculations. For instance, when applying formulae, hand-written notes could also be made with a tablet.


Creating videos or podcasts is also possible as exam work – e.g. to document practical activities, for interviews or short features. These could in turn be complemented with additional written work such as a record or analysis of the interview.

Files such as this could be submitted in ILIAS or Moodle via exercise/assignment submissions. See also the demonstration on the website of the University of Bern with additional links:  Referat als Video einreichen

In these cases too it is important that the students provide an accompanying declaration that the work is carried out independently.

Oral examinations

If you want to conduct oral examinations you must ensure that the students have the opportunity to try out the relevant technical options and systems. As regards the actual exam situation, it is recommended that any aids are permitted from the start, as it is not possible to monitor absolutely whether aids are used. Holding online oral examinations is only possible if all the participants can communicate with one another by video. The identity of the exam candidate must be clear and verifiable. The examination candidate must identify themselves at the start of the exam by displaying photographic ID (preferably identity card, passport) by holding it up to the camera. An online oral examination can only be conducted if besides image quality the sound quality is adequate to allow the exam to be conducted without interference; this should be checked at the start of the exam and confirmed by all participants. The confirmations should be recorded in the exam record. The exam should be terminated and the exam deemed not taken if the technical link cannot be made or any technical interruption cannot be fixed promptly within a few minutes. You may in exceptional cases deviate from this if the interruption occurs at a point when a large enough part of the exam has already been completed, enabling assessment with regard to the principle of equal opportunities.

The declaration on online oral examinations and consent to the terms of use of the relevant video platform must be obtained from the exam candidate before starting.

Doctoral examinations by video: please contact the responsible dean’s office about the procedure.