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    Open Book Exams: Benefits, Technique and Preparation Strategies

    By Aditi Narendra
    7 Dec'23  5 min read
    Open Book Exams: Benefits, Technique and Preparation Strategies
    Synopsis

    Memorising study material and reproducing it during exams is the norm. However, there is a different approach, “open book” exams that is also practised at times. Read this article to learn more about this new take on open-book exams, its advantages, disadvantages, challenges and more.

    Open Book Exams: Benefits, Technique and Preparation Strategies
    Synopsis

    Memorising study material and reproducing it during exams is the norm. However, there is a different approach, “open book” exams that is also practised at times. Read this article to learn more about this new take on open-book exams, its advantages, disadvantages, challenges and more.

    Exams are taken in order to assess academic knowledge of the students. The importance of this assessment is indisputable in a student’s life. However, the pressure of performance and extremely good scores makes this assessment quite terrifying. To help students overcome this fear, another form of assessment is being introduced in schools and colleges. Open book examinations are gaining popularity.

    In this article, Careers360 has analysed the pros, cons and challenges that come with open book examination. Also suggested are techniques that can help you score better if you are taking an open-book exam.

    Open book exams (OBEs) as the name suggests are tests where the student is allowed to refer to their textbooks, notes or other study material while taking the exam. These types of exams diverge from the traditional route of assessment which focuses on producing a different approach to check the student’s academic knowledge than the traditional setup of closed book examinations (CBEs).

    This new approach to open-book examination evaluates a student’s ability to locate relevant information, interpret it effectively, and apply it to solve problems or answer questions.

    Let us now look at the impact of OBEs and CBEs on student life.

    Influence on Learning and Preparation

    The regular exam requires students to memorise lessons and reproduce them orally or in writing. On the other hand, OBEs focus on applying the taught concepts. When it comes to preparation time the students have to invest more time and effort in CBEs as students to study more when appearing in exams of this format.

    Performance In Exam

    There is a notion that students will perform better in OBEs due to the accessibility of references. However, this might not essentially be true. The focus of OBEs is to check the application of knowledge which cannot be retrieved from external sources. The time limit to answer questions during OBEs creates pressure to look for the right information from all the sources available. This makes the process of OBEs challenging.

    Students preparing for CBEs used a deeper learning approach that included detailed study of lecture notes, chapter notes, and participation in activities linked to higher exam scores. Students expecting OBEs, on the other hand, may have taken a shallower learning approach, assuming they could rely on accessing materials during the exam.

    Testing Effects

    Both the OBEs and CBEs help the examinee remember the facts and apply the knowledge in different ways. CBEs make the students think harder to remember what they have learned while OBEs test the application of the facts accessible.

    Students have to adopt different strategies to prepare for different styles of exams. The CBEs focus on rote memorisation. Let’s understand the strategies students can opt to ace OBEs.

    Well Organised Notes

    It is wise for the students to organise the notes by chapter or category. Finding the answers from a haphazard arrangement of notes can cost a lot of time. Using tabs, and colour-coding techniques can help the students to locate the relevant information during the exam.

    Understand The Concept

    Relying on their notes while attempting OBEs is not wise. Since OBEs are more applicable it is important to understand the core concepts. This will allow me to apply critical thinking skills to solve problems effectively.

    Basic Knowledge Is Important

    Even if it's an OBE the students need to have the basic knowledge of the subject. The formula, the chemical name, and the numerical value should be on the tongue. This also saves time during the examination. The student should have an overview of which concept comes under which category.

    Practise Past Papers

    It is important to take practice tests on OBE patterns. This gives familiarity to the student on how to attempt questions on these patterns. The student should be ready on how to look for answers, analyse the concept and answer accordingly.

    When students are prepared with the above strategies, scoring in OBEs becomes easier. There is an inclination of students to OBEs as it brings advantages for examinees. Various studies find OBEs favourable on the points of:

    Less Stress On Examinee

    When the students have access to study material, taking exams becomes less stressful. They don’t have to worry about memorising, recalling and producing facts on paper or orally. This might reduce the burden on the student and promote a relaxed test environment.

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    Boost Critical Thinking

    The open book exam checks the knowledge of the examinee beyond rote learning. Students must grasp the concept, analyse what they understood from it and use it effectively while answering the questions. This encourages the students to understand the practical application of the concepts and carves critical thinking skills.

    Real-World Stimulation

    The open-book exam allows students to access their study materials or resources during the test, much like professionals have access to references in their work settings. By permitting this access, the exam evaluates not just the memorisation of information but also how effectively students can utilise available resources to address questions or solve problems.

    However, OBEs are not all perfect. They have their set of disadvantages. Some of the drawbacks include:

    Dependence On Study Materials

    OBEs make students heavily dependent on reference materials. This makes them neglect to put effort into understanding the concepts thoroughly. Students don't even memorise the basics, just refer to the study material for it.

    Time Constraints

    Students don’t remember anything they spend searching for the information asked in the exam. They might even struggle to filter out the relevant information suitable for the questions asked. This takes up a lot of time affecting the time limit assigned to complete all the questions in the exam.

    Poor Study Habits

    Students might not develop effective study habits when they are dependent on study material for exams. The only focus of the student is to filter out the information, not developing a comprehensive understanding and retaining the knowledge. However,

    Balancing OBEs And CBEs

    Students are becoming inclined towards OBEs possibly due to reduced stress and the perception that these exams encourage critical thinking rather than rote memorisation. OBEs can be successfully implemented if the curriculum across all stages is modified accordingly. It is important to note that OBEs are only successful when students reap their benefits as tools for developing application-based knowledge.

    Having said that the traditional CBEs should not go obsolete as this ensures students have in-depth knowledge of certain concepts imbibed in their memory.

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