Tips for taking open book tests

Although, the words "Open Book Test" may sound great, in reality the test may be quite difficult.
An open book test is measuring your understanding of the subject, not just your memory. Some open book tests are taken home while some are given in the classroom.

Make sure that you study for an open book test. You need to be able to locate the information you need in your textbook or notes quickly. Always stay up on classroom readings and assignments. Make brief summaries of the major ideas or concepts taught. Be selective about what you bring to the test. Make sure that you have everything that you need.

It is a good idea to have your materials organized before the test. It may help to list dates, data or formulas separately so the ideas can be retrieved quickly. You may have developed your own system of organization for your notes, just be sure that everything you need will be marked.

Be sure to read the questions on the test carefully, so you will give the answers that are needed. Don’t waste your time. Answer the easier questions first then move on to the more difficult ones. Don’t practice overkill. Answer what needs to be answered. You do not have to give every fact in your head.

It often helps to give quotations or paraphrasing, but you must be certain to give the correct citation. Don’t do this too much or the work will not be yours. Read over your answers and make any necessary corrections.


21 Tips you should know before taking your next open book test:
Tip 01. The facts:
Get all the basic facts regarding the test/exam such as the date, time, and location down. Also, find out the rules of the open book test. Sometimes, an open book test means you may use your notes in addition to the textbook. Skipping this single detail could mean the difference between an A and a C.


Tip 02. Prepare:
Spend an equal or greater amount of time preparing as you would for a normal test. The open book test will most likely be harder than if it were a closed book exam.


Tip 03. Your tools:
Familiarize yourself with the book and relevant materials.


Tip 04. A formula sheet?
If it's allowed, write down all the important formulas and key information on a separate sheet so you don't have to search through your book for it.


Tip 05. Study:
Focus on learning the main ideas and get a feel for where they are located in the book, learn the details later if there's still time.


Tip 06. Get involved:
Highlight important points, use post-it notes, bookmarks and make notes in your book, if it is allowed.


Tip 07. Take advantage:
Bring all the resources that your professor or teacher allows.


Tip 08. Have a strategy:
Answer the easy questions that you know off the top of your head first, then go back and answer the questions where you need to reference your book.


Tip 09. Backup your work:
Use quotations from the book to support your view, but don't over-quote, be sure to give your own insight and commentary.


Tip 10. Overview:
Read over the whole exam before beginning to write anything.


Tip 11. Prioritize:
Choose the problem or question that seems easiest to you and do it first. Continue to do the problems in order of increasing difficulty.


Tip 12. Stay in motion:
Work on a problem until you get stuck. Think about it for a minute or two, and if nothing comes to you then drop it and go on to another problem.


Tip 13. Stay in motion (again):
Don't spend 30 minutes sweating out an additional five points on a problem and run out of time, leaving a 40-point problem untouched. You may later have time to return to the first one and you're much more likely to think of how to do it then.


Tip 14. Show your work:
Give enough detail so that both you and the grader can tell what you're trying to do. Even if you can do the problem in your head, don't. If you're wrong, you get a zero; if you're right, you could be suspected of cheating.


Tip 15. Watch out for significant figures:
Some instructors don't appreciate answers like 23.694028, even if that's what the calculator says.


Tip 16. Think partial credit:
Try to put something down for each part of every problem/question. If you don't have time to solve a problem completely, tell what you'd do if you had more time.


Tip 17. Keep your work legible:
If an instructor can't read what you wrote, you aren't likely to get full credit and you may not get any.


Tip 18. Ask questions if needed:
If you don't understand a question, ask the instructor/proctor for help. You might get some, and it never hurts to try.


Tip 19. Don't panic:
If you feel yourself sweating or hyperventilating, put down your pencil, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and consciously relax any muscles that you're clenching (jaw, neck, stomach). When you're calmer, go back to work.


Tip 20. Check your work:
If you have time at the end, check your solutions. Did you answer each part of every question? Did you answer the question(s) asked? Do your answers look reasonable? Do your calculations check out? (Save this one for last.)


Tip 21. Last but not least:
Hand in your paper when time is called. Nothing makes an instructor/proctor more homicidal than having to wrestle you to the floor to get your paper.

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