How to effectively prepare for online open book assessments this summer
Hi everyone! As we are approaching Term 3 it means only one thing – exams! These are looking a bit different for all of us this year, and for some of you, this will be your first time experiencing online assessments. In this blog I’ll be providing you with some tips so that you can experience (some) normalcy in all of this! I’ll be focusing on open book exams, which is when you are allowed to use your notes and other sources to aid you in your exam.
Open book does not mean do not revise! – It is really important to start with this, as having experience of online exams last year, both timed and untimed, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a solid understanding of your key topics before starting your online exams. For some exams I had just two hours , and if I had not revised properly beforehand, I would have wasted way too much time sifting through my notes! So, my advice would be to prepare as you would for in person exams.
But – open book can have its advantages – Whilst you definitely need to prepare for these assessments as thoroughly as normal, the great side to open book assessments is that you are allowed material with you and therefore you don’t necessarily have to waste your time learning dates and figures before the exam. It’s therefore a great idea to use your revision time to solidify and challenge your understanding, for example, by collating your ideas together by making mind maps of key concepts and theorists, to have to hand during your exam. I found that I could use my revision time more effectively to coherently process my understanding of different areas.
Remember: REFERENCING! – Now, every department will have their own rules, but generally, if you use information that comes from other people, such as in textbook or online sources, you must reference these. In a normal exam, you aren’t allowed any notes, and therefore there’s no chance for you to copy someone else’s work. In open book exams, however, you are allowed to use sources, so the rules for referencing when something is not yours needs to stay the same.
You can still get caught out for plagiarism – As mentioned above, your own department will discuss this with you, but remember to reference ideas that are not yours. Most departments that run essay-based assessments will put your work through a plagiarism software, so will know if you have copied quotes and not referenced them. It’s therefore paramount that you leave enough time to reference! As I’ve mentioned though, you should ask your own department about their rules and expectations.
Remember that you do not have infinite time! – Having notes in front of you to assist your assessment can actually become very distracting. It’s therefore really important that you keep your eye on the time, and plan how to use your allotted time. For example, if you have 2 hours, how much of this will you dedicate to planning, looking at notes and proofreading? This links back to my first point – while having notes is great, if you have prepared well beforehand, you will need to refer to notes less often, thus saving you time!
I hope this post has been helpful, and as always, feel free to reach out with any questions or queries you may have! 🙂