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Test Tips.

  1. Jan 31, 2006 #1
    Basically, we found out today that my course coordinator wants to try something new this year; making out class tests open-book.

    Predictably, at first everyone seemed to think this can only be a good thing for us, as students. I, however, think that it's a bad thing.

    Not only are class tests a measure of ability to perform operations using the things that you've learned, but I feel there is also a very worth-while component requiring good memory-recall. i.e. remembering things.

    Also, with regards to the ways this is going to change the test, I can't see any way that they couldn't make the questions more difficult, granted that it should be similar proportionally since we have materials on hand but I don't think that necessarily means that you can apply the same material to more difficult questions.

    I guess what I'm asking (probably in the wrong forum, but there's people here to respond, I guess); what are the main differences with an open-book test? Does anyone have any tips on how to approach this kind of exam in terms of revision and types of questions tackled?

    Experience is all.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2006 #2
    I assume by open-book that also means you can use notes? That takes care of having to remember everything important. What I'd do is do my best to prepare like it's a regular (closed-book) test, see how it is, and then go back and prepare for the next test differently if needed. I don't like open-book tests because that seems to test more on how well someone can look for the answers rather than actually learn what they read.
  4. Jan 31, 2006 #3

    And I agree completely, I'm quite certain without having tried it that it's a poor idea.
  5. Jan 31, 2006 #4
    The approach is different for sure. A close-book exam can emphasize your ability to memorize formulas and definitions. You may not understand them, but if you can regurgitate them on paper then you can get some marks for it. An open-book exam will instead focus on your ability to apply these formulas and definitions, assuming that you understand the subject matter in the first place. I would expect to see many questions that resemble the exercises you find at the end of each chapter in your textbook and I would make sure that I'm good at these. Students who understand the subject and methods well will have time to complete all questions accurately and get a high mark. Those who don't understand the material will not have time to complete everything and will make mistake by rushing so they will get a lower mark.
  6. Jan 31, 2006 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Now that I've been working in industry for 20+ years, I think that open book tests are more practical, and more applicable to the way you work in the real world. I refer back to my texts often, and my favorites are right over my desk at work and well-worn and annotated. I don't look for answers in them, I use them to refresh my memory of formulas and tricks that I've used from the books in the past.

    Actually I think the most valuable test scheme is to allow open notes, but not open book. And maybe limit the number of pages of notes to a few. This strongly encourages students to understand and distill the coursework and the text material, and generate the most useful working notes that they can. That's certainly what I use the most in my work now, and I still refer back to my "crib notes" from a number of classes and other study.

    At least in the classes I had where the tests were open book, the questions were designed so that you could not solve them by "looking for the answers" in the text. Although plenty of students got desperate near the end of each test and tried that.....
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