Taking and Passing an Open Book Exam
Instead of spending their weekend chained to the desk of some library or coffee shop, most students usually see open book tests as the get out of jail free card that allows them to still enjoy their Saturday night. Just because the information is provided at the time of the test, however, does not mean that it’s going to be a breeze. In fact, because you have the book with you, open book tests can actually be more difficult than traditional exams. Instead of merely memorizing facts, they usually require you to apply concepts and explain ideas. Furthermore, they require just as much studying as any other essay or exam.
While open book tests are not inherently easier simply because you have access to the material, with proper work ahead of time, they certainly can be. The key to succeeding at open book tests is lies in the test preparation.
Before the Test
Thoroughly read all of the material. Make notes in the margins and highlight key terms.
Become familiar with the layout of the book. Learn where important ideas and concepts are located so you do not have to waste time searching for them at the time of the test.
Review any other relevant materials such as class notes.
If it’s allowed, write down any formulas and/or other notes on a separate sheet of paper. See our Ultimate Guide to Test Preparation
During the Test
Begin by carefully reading the instructions.
Answer any questions that you automatically know. Once you have done that, go back to the questions that you are unsure of and consult your book and/or notes.
When answering questions it is acceptable to quote the book, but be sure not to plagiarize by copying long sentences or paragraphs. Put the author’s thoughts into your own words.
Once finished, go back and check your work before handing it in. Proofread your answers and correct any grammatical or spelling errors.
One last thing. Don’t allow the test to intimidate or overwhelm you. The irony is that sometimes a person can feel overwhelmed due to the vastness of the material available to them to refer to for the test. As with any test, try to relax before starting.
Above all else, remember that an open book test is still a test! As long as you approach it with the same level of seriousness that you would with any other exam, you should pass with flying colors.
See Discussion on What is an Open Book Exam in the Digital Age?
Modified: September 25th, 2017
Published: October 30th, 2009