| |

Open book exams – Pros, Cons & Challenges

What is an Open Book Exam?

An open book exam is simply an examination in which a student is allowed to consult his books, notes or any other source material approved by the examiner while the exam is being conducted. Basically, in this exam, a student can take his study material along with him and consult the study material to answer the questions appearing in the exam.

Open book exams are quite commonly practised in law education. Very rarely, they are used for other streams such as Engineering, Finance etc. For the most part, students are generally not familiar with or have not even heard about the concept of open book exams.

For any student who is used to the conventional approach towards learning, the concept of open book exams seems absurd. Some may even argue that this type of an exam doesn’t make any sense and beats the whole concept of evaluation of a student’s learnings through the means of conducting an examination.

However, this is not entirely true. While there are some very valid concerns against the widespread implementation of open book exams, they are not entirely useless as many may choose to call them.

Open book exams – Pros, Cons & Challenges

What are its types?

In this exam, students are allowed to take notes, approved study material, or resource materials. Examiner checks students’ ability to find information from books in a given time, and students apply as per their knowledge. These types of exams are commonly preferred in law education. 

Sit down open book exams

These are old school format examinations in which student has to visit the examination hall and answer the given set of questions in a limited time. Students are allowed to take some kind of education sources. Examiner closely evaluates the type of resources used by the student and their behavior in the examination.

Takehome open book exams

In this sort of open-book tests, understudies are permitted to take the Question paper with them. At that point, understudies are asked to answer the inquiries without taking some other individual’s assistance. There is a predefined time limit inside which an understudy needs to turn in their responses to the analyst.

Misconceptions about open book exams

Open book exams are easy to crack.

Many students believe an open-book exam is easy to crack, but the reality is that all the questions asked by exams are real-life based in the form of case studies. Which is difficult to answer if students’ concept is not clear 

Students can copy information from the source.

Many students think they just have to copy the information from the study material in a given time. Plagiarism is not allowed in these examinations. Even study material that you are allowed to bring should be approved by the examiner. If the examiner found plagiarism in students’ concepts, marks for such information will not be given. 

No need to study

Students believe they don’t need to study for open book exams. Reality is situation-based, and case study-based questions are asked. The student will only be able to write if his/her concepts are clear.

Open book exams – Pros, Cons & Challenges

Advantages of Open Book Examination-

1. Less Difficult on Recall

In an Open book exam, students can check the books. So, they don’t have to stuff a lot of facts.

2. Provides the Second Chance

Students get a second chance to obtain knowledge. Also, they can gather suitable learning material rather than recalling it.

3. Enhances Retrieval Skills

It helps in remembering things for a longer duration. Also, students find resourceful ways to collect necessary information from different sources.

Disadvantages of Open Book Examination-

1. Not sure of Equality

It is difficult to judge whether all students have equally prepared for an exam or not. Also, some books are very costly and the library also has a limited number of books.

2. Need More Desk Space

The books and notes take a lot of space. Also, the desk needs to be bigger to keep the books.

3. Time-consuming

Sometimes students take a lot of time finding some topics. Also, they look for books rather than answering with their own knowledge and skills.

Also Read:- How To Prepare For Group Discussion Tips

      1. What Group Discussion Skills Required
      2. How to Start a GD
      3. What Skills Are Judged In GD?
      4. How to Enter a GD in the Middle of the Discussion
      5. How to prepare for Group Discussion
      6. Read Daily Current Affairs

Impact on Learning Strategies

  1. Open book examinations promote the right mental set in both learning and teaching. The students will stop mugging to reproduce it in tests.
  2. Open book examinations will effect a fundamental change in this attitude. It does not mean that students do not need to study for exams. It implies that they should understand concepts, and use them to solve problems.

Thus education becomes a pleasurable activity, not a painful drudgery. And what is learned with pleasure is assimilated more efficiently, and retained better.

Considerations when designing open book exams

• Questions in open book exams need to be devised to assess the interpretation and application of knowledge, comprehension skills, and critical thinking skills rather than only knowledge recall

• Make use of case-based exam questions that require students to apply critical reasoning skills in response to a trigger scenario

• Devise clear and unambiguous questions to limit student confusion and time spent interpreting the question so students can spend their time making use of their textbook or memory aid to effectively answer the questions

• Devise questions that require students to apply and make use of the information from their textbook or notes rather than simply requiring them to locate and re-write this information

Misconceptions about open book exams

1) Open-book exams are a breeze

Open-book exams are not an easy option. Answering the questions well requires more than just copying information straight from texts.

2) You don’t have to study

Probably the biggest misconception about open-book exams is that there is no need to study. You should study just as you would for any other exam.

3) You can just copy straight from the book!

You can’t copy chunks of text directly from textbooks or notes. This is plagiarism. In open-book exams, the resource materials are made available to you, so you are expected to do more than just reproduce them.

4) The more materials the better!

Don’t get carried away and overload with materials and resources in the exam—only take what you need. Stacks of books won’t necessarily guarantee your performance,  Carefully select your materials and organise them for quick reference.

Preparing for an Open Book Test-

  • Read the chapters well ahead and do not expect to Find quick answers during the test.
  •  Students must know where to look for the solution. One must observe the Headings and subheadings, and an outline of the structure of the text must be made in mind.
  •  Keep the Lecture notes in mind for themes. The lectures provide an overview of the concepts that appear on exams which is not always available by reviewing the book alone.
  • • Own notes should be made ready, and essential formulas or concepts covered in class should be written down.
  • • Constant and regular attention from a qualified and caring tutor is necessary.


    Open book examinations can restore the true meaning of the word education for both teachers and students. It is true that it will take some time and effort on the part of students and teachers to adapt themselves to the demands of open book examinations . But the changes will be inevitable.

    Also Read:- How To Prepare For Group Discussion Tips

        1. What Group Discussion Skills Required
        2. How to Start a GD
        3. What Skills Are Judged In GD?
        4. How to Enter a GD in the Middle of the Discussion
        5. How to prepare for Group Discussion
        6. Read Daily Current Affairs

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *