In an open book exam
you are evaluated on understanding rather than recall and memorization.
- You will be expected to
- apply material to new situations
- analyze elements and relationships
- synthesize, or structure
- evaluate using your material as evidence
Access to content (books, notes, etc.) varies by instructor.
The exam can be take home or in the classroom
with questions seen or unseen before exam time
Do not underestimate the preparation needed for an open book exam:
your time will be limited, so the key is proper organization in order to quickly find
data, quotes, examples, and/or arguments you use in your answers.
- Keep current
on readings and assignments in class
- Prepare brief,
concise notes on ideas and concepts being tested
- Carefully select
what you intend to bring with you to the exam,
and note anything significant about what you do not
- Include your own commentary on the information
that will provide fuel for your arguments,
and demonstrate that you have thought this through
- Anticipate with model questions, but not model answers.
Challenge yourself instead with how you would answer questions,
and what options and resources you may need to consider.
- Keep current
Organize your reference materials, your “open book:”
Make your reference materials as user-friendly as possible so that you don’t lose time locating what you need
- Familiarize yourself
with the format, layout and structure of your text books and source materials
- Organize these with your class notes
for speedy retrieval, and index ideas and concepts with pointers and/or page numbers in the source material
(Develop a system of tabs/sticky notes, color coding, concept maps, etc. to mark important summaries, headings, sections)
- Write short, manageable summaries
of content for each grouping
- List out data and formulas
separately for easy access
- Read the questions carefully
to understand what is expected.
- Make good use of time
Quickly review the number of questions and note how much time each could take.
First answer the questions that you are confident of and/or for which you will not need much time checking out the resources.
Leave more complex and difficult questions for later
- Don’t over-answer
Aim for concise, accurate, thoughtful answers that are based in evidence.
- to illustrate a point, or act as a discussion point
- to draw on the authority of the source
- because you could not say it better
Quotations can be short
Three or four words can be extremely effective when they are worked into the structure of your sentence
A reference to a quote
may be as effective as the quote itself
Guard against over-quoting
It is your words and your argument;
extensive quoting may detract from your point or argument