Some hints for candidates:

Check all paperwork and requirements, for instance for sending copies of your texts. Make sure your copies are complete and fulfil requirements, e.g. photocopies of the original published work, not hand-written or typed, and that they showing any cuts or emendations clearly. If a copy is missing, assessment will be delayed.

Make sure you have read the specifications clearly and have prepared all the required elements.

Decide when and how you will video your demonstration, and get the whole of your programme ready, because you will be required to film it in one take.

Time your programme carefully and rehearse it to time. Be careful not to run over-time or substantially under-time, either of which show poor planning and preparation, and may incur a penalty.

Decide on appropriate clothes and shoes, as you would for a face-to-face live exam. (Do not leave your fluffy slippers on, as one candidate did recently; they are not appropriate for Viola!)

Introduce yourself and the name of your exam clearly and confidently.

If introductions to your material are needed, keep them clear and brief, and deliver them confidently as to a live audience.

You may need to adjust your staging for a fixed camera.

Find a suitable place to film. For instance, if your best acting space is your conservatory, do not film through a glass window (the reflection of the camera will be in the way of performance!) And move that potted palm from your downstage area.

Imagine your appropriate audience, and place them appropriately (behind the camera) and play to them as to a live audience, with realistic volume and awareness of probable response.

Be aware of where the camera is and let it become part of your audience.

Make sure that any lighting or daylight is in front of you: on you, not behind you (which would leave your face in shadow.)

Avoid distractions in the background (for instance, your dog.)

If you have to answer questions at the end of your performance elements, do not use any pre-prepared script, but try to imagine you are having a real-life conversation.


Some challenges for examiners:

The loss of interaction in a shared space, and of the intimate “exam experience” for the candidate. Examiners miss real-time presence and the lack of personal connection.

Occasionally the nuances of performance do not read well if, in videoing, candidates have not imagined a ‘real’ audience.

Candidates sometimes drop out of frame and you are left with part of an arm, or a head suddenly re-emerging.

Sound levels or background noise (e.g. cicadas) can be challenging. But increasingly examiners are aware that most candidates know more about using a video camera than they do!

To maintain examination security, the technology demands careful and continuous training and high levels of commitment from examiners.

In conclusion:

I am sure that Digital examinations are here to stay, even when face-to-face live examinations are confidently back with us. They provide opportunities for candidates world-wide, who can enter without needing to attend an exam centre or school. In this digital age there are even some candidates who are more confident in attempting their exam via video than in person!

Audition material is increasingly wanted by video too, and digital exams provide good experience for that.

Without Trinity College London’s current Digital examination offer (its adapted DGD syllabuses are approved by Ofqual) there would be thousands and thousands of students over this last year who would not have been able to sit their exams. As it is, thousands and thousands of students have achieved their certificates in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and other countries despite Covid restrictions and lockdowns… the uptake has been staggering, and Trinity is continuously recruiting and training additional examiners.

– Kirsty Nichol Findlay

February article – The Challenges of Digital Examinations