The oral examination in psychiatry for final-year medical students at Wellington and Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, was studied. Between December 1989 and April 1990, 40 medical students were videorecorded during such an examination. The transcripts of the recording of each oral, and at a later date the videorecordings, were individually scored by a panel of six research psychiatrists who were experienced examiners. In addition verbal and non-verbal behaviour was rated using visual analogue scales and the students completed personality and anxiety questionnaires. There was a low level of agreement between research psychiatrists in the allocation of oral marks. The oral score was positively associated with the level of confidence of the student and negatively with anxiety in men.