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1. What is an Open Book Exam?

  • An open book exam has standard exam questions where students are allowed to use resources e.g. books, articles, lecture notes, research notes from all sources.  Sometimes a limit can be put on resources e.g. two sides of A4 notes, a folder etc.
  • A time limit will be set.

2. What is the aim of an Open Book Exam and how do I get the best mark?

  • Best marks are gained through applying the resources critically to the question.
  • Show your breadth and depth of knowledge through expanded reading/research.

3. Why is this a suitable substitute for standard exam hall exams?

  • This type of exam better reflects the workplace because through structured revision and relevant resources you will have gained a base knowledge and within the exam you can add depth from your resources.  For example, using more in-text citations, presenting alternative arguments and applying criticality.  Therefore, it is an excellent way to demonstrate your academic and problem solving skills.
  • Think about it being a bit like work, in that you go to work with some base knowledge and you supplement this by gathering new information to collate into a response required by your team/manager.



4. How do I prepare for this type of exam?

  • Review and map/summarise from your lecture notes, seminars, workshops etc. the key points and arguments for each topic.
  • Start to explore the extended reading list and make notes.
  • Look beyond extended reading list.
  • Look at past exam questions.
  • Plan a structure for your resources dependent on guidance given by your school.  For example, in a folder have tabs with keywords on.
  • When compiling your resource consider what works best for you. Is it coloured paper, colour coding, images, tables, graphs, mnemonics, sketch, flow diagram etc.?
  • Spend time revisiting your resources to allow you to develop a memory for where you have placed specific content.
  • Do practice questions under timed conditions from either past papers or made up or coursework questions.
  • Refresh your knowledge of the learning outcomes from the module.  Does your revision meet those outcomes?
  • Understand the number and type of questions to be answered in the exam.
  • Create a time plan for the exam to include reading the question thoroughly, planning your answer, writing your answer and proofread your answer.

Resources mentioned

5. What do I do in the exam?

  1. Read the question thoroughly and highlight instructional words and keywords.
  2. Create a structured plan which includes content, key authors, a clear argument and timings
  3. Start writing.
  4. Allow time to edit and proof-read.



6. Can you each give me your top tip?

  • Organisation and navigation.
  • Let others know you are taking an exam!

Resources mentioned