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Hans Baldung : Examination in the Catechism , 1516.
Albert Anker : The School Examination (oil on canvas, 1862, Kunstmuseum Bern)

An examination is a procedure in which knowledge or skills, in general a performance , are determined by specific tasks or questions. In a figurative sense, testing also means “severe suffering”. The Duden records the transferred meanings "fateful burden" and in sport "competition that makes certain high demands".


The verb to check is derived from mhd. Prüfeven , brüeven “perceive, consider, prove, calculate, effect” (12th century). Due to the diphthongization (mhd. Prüfeven , Prät. Pruovte ), despite the late attestation, an early loan from vlat. * prōvāre to accept; see. afrz. prover “prove, try”, French prouver “prove”. Ahead lies the Latin probāre "check, examine, consider suitable" (from Latin probus "good, capable"). The test goes back to mhd. Testevunge "testing, evidence, probation, equipment". Are related to Engl. prove and proof .

Terms exam and exam


Aptitude test of school-leavers for the profession of stenographer 1931

Tests are arranged situations in which certain performance full trains provoked to these underlying skills, knowledge, skills and dispositions by measurement or where this is not possible, as objectively as possible to determine through evaluation and audit in a certificate to certify. The result of this performance assessment is expected to provide information about subsequent (possible) performance. They are often linked to the assignment of authorizations and opportunities for advancement. Exams should also have an informative and enlightening effect on teachers and learners.

A distinction is made between entrance, entrance, aptitude and final examinations (as an intermediate examination, even when intermediate goals are achieved), e.g. B. Assistant, journeyman, master craftsman, diploma, doctoral examinations, etc. The problem of the exams lies in their selective character (momentary performance), in the fundamental questionability of their predictive value, in subjective and / or non-standardized assessment of the examination performance and in the psychological stressful situations often associated with exams . To overcome these problems, motivating supervisor behavior and standardized analytical assessment schemes are suggested for written examination papers. The stress reduction is also served by sliding tests, which record performance more in the longitudinal section.


Examen , plural exams , is a foreign word in Latin : examen "examination", drawn together from exagimen , actually "that which is brought out, driven out, that tips the scales ". Derived are the examiner (examinee) and the examiner (examiner).

It is mostly a written and oral exam to prove a certain level of knowledge and knowledge. At university exams, the written examinations usually consist of subject-related exams and a thesis (e.g. diploma , master’s , bachelor’s or master’s thesis ). A prerequisite for taking an exam is completion of a prescribed training course or course of study. Written theses for a regular course of study are regularly assigned, supervised and assessed by a university professor.

In Germany, if the exam is not taken by a university (university or technical college) but by a government agency, it is called a state exam . This is the case for the law , food chemistry , teaching , medicine , veterinary medicine , pharmacy and forestry courses as well as for the state examinations for state-certified technicians . In addition to the state examination, there is, among other things, the theological examination as the final examination of the theology studies, as well as the concert examination as the final examination of a postgraduate course at a music college, there is also the state examination in the training for health and nursing and for / for Geriatric nurse .

Examination forms

According to Thomas Tinnefeld , examination forms can be divided into three functional types:

  • diagnostic exams
  • prognostic tests
  • Selection tests

The aim of the diagnostic tests is to use a sample from the test object's knowledge inventory to derive a statement about the candidate’s current competence in the subject area tested and to certify this. Typical diagnostic tests are intermediate and final tests .

The prognostic exams, on the other hand, derive a statement from the sample collected about the success that can still be expected in the further training of the examinee. The examination tasks must therefore be suitably formulated in such a way that they allow statements about a development prognosis. Prognostic tests are therefore typical admission and transition assessments .

Selection tests, on the other hand, test negatively the lack of knowledge of a candidate and ignore their possibly existing specific competence. They do not give any description of competencies, but specifically look for candidates to select. They are actually not tests in the sense of the term, but mere selection instruments . Selection tests are thus a means of selecting candidates in the event of a scarcity of resources. An educational quiz is also a typical example of a selection test.

In addition to conventional paper-based forms of examinations, electronic examinations are increasingly being used in school lessons, at universities (for example in mass courses) or for certification exams in professional development. Electronic examination tools allow various forms of use between entrance and placement tests, the self-assessment of learners and regular learning success checks. In the area of ​​oral examination forms, there is a digital version of the less widespread video examination and the presentation at universities in modularized courses .

Examination Methods

Areas of application of examinations as proof of performance etc.

Digital proof of achievement

The Open Badges project run by the Mozilla Foundation gives certifiers the option of issuing digital certificates. Certificate holders can present such certificates over the Internet.

See also


  • Friedhelm Beiner: Exam didactics and exam psychology: performance measurement and performance evaluation in public administration as well as in vocational and general education. Heymann, Cologne a. a. 1982 (administration and training, special issue 7).
  • Sigrid Dany, Birgit Szczyrba, Johannes Wildt (eds.): Checks on the agenda! University didactic perspectives on reforms in the higher education system. Bertelsmann, Bielefeld 2008 (Focus on University Didactics, Volume 118).
  • Ulrich Gonschorrek: Examiner's manual: principles, rules and background information. Exam psychology, examination didactics, examination methodology, LTU, Bremen 1988.
  • Florian Keschmann: Exams at universities. Legal character - legal protection - proceedings. Manzsche, Vienna 2001.
  • Thomas Oakland, Ronald K. Hambleton (Eds.): International Perspectives on Academic Assessment. Springer Netherland, Berlin 1995 (Evaluation in Education and Human Services, 39).
  • Hans-Werner Prahl : Examination systems and examination reforms at universities in the FRG. Working group for university didactics, Hamburg 1980.
  • Angela Sommer, Julia Gerick, Germo Zimmermann (eds.): Competently design exams. Stuttgart / Münster: UTB-Verlag / Waxmann, 2018. ISBN 978-3825248406
  • Thomas Tinnefeld : Exam didactics . To establish a new scientific discipline - using the example of modern foreign languages. Shaker, Aachen 2002 (Language & Culture).
  • Thomas Tinnefeld : Dimensions of exam didactics. Analyzes and reflections on performance evaluation in modern foreign languages. htw saar, Saarbrücken 2013 (Saarbrücker Writings on Linguistics and Foreign Language Didactics, A: Monographs; Vol. 1).
  • Alexander Schulz, Nicolas Apostolopoulos: E-Examinations at a Glance - The Computerization of Examinations at the Free University of Berlin In: T. Skerlak, H. Kaufmann, G. Bachmann (Eds.): Learning environments at the university - On the way to campus from tomorrow. Waxmann Verlag, Münster 2014, pp. 283–298.
  • Klaus Wannemacher: Computer-aided examination procedures. In: Michael H. Breitner, Beate Bruns, Franz Lehner (eds.): New trends in e-learning. Aspects of business administration and computer science. Physica, Heidelberg 2007, pp. 427-440.

Web links

Wiktionary: Examination  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Examination in DWDS , accessed on November 6, 2012
  2. Examination in duden.de, accessed on November 6, 2012
  3. Cf. Hans-Otto Schenk: The thesis. A guide for economists and social scientists. Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2657-3 , pp. 187 ff.
  4. Ursula Hermann: Knaurs Etymological Lexicon . Munich 1982. p. 146.
  5. ^ Thomas Tinnefeld: Exam didactics . Shaker, Aachen 2002.
  6. Lukas C. Gundling: The presentation as an oral examination , in: Zeitschrift für Landesverfassungsrecht und Landesverwaltungsrecht (ZLVR), 4/2018, p. 131ff.