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
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.
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
List out data and formulas separately for easy
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
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
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