Open Book Tests

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Can someone please explain to me the purpose of an open book test? Cuz I'm 42 yrs old and I still don't get the concept. :hammer:

Today we had our mid term for one of my classes. (my hardest one) I studied my tail off as this teacher decided to try a new method of teaching this semester. She's only giving 4 tests. The 2nd being the mid term and the 4th being the final. The midterm was over the first 8 chapters. Because of her new method, we had never been tested over the last 4 of those chapters.

So, totally out of character for this teacher, we get into class and she asks if we want an open book test. Now of course the whole class says Yes! Stupid people. I had her for medication terminology and she always warned us you never wanted to take one of her open book test. They're harder, and they're timed. Class was so excited over the test being open book they didn't even hear this part when she told them.

I don't know about most people, but when I get used to the way a certain teacher teaches or test and they suddenly change it, I'm thrown for a loop that is almost impossible to recover from. I can know the material inside out and still fail.

That's what happened today. I wanted to strangle each person in that room. They'd went from all the time in the world to answer the 100 questions to under 40 mins because the test was timed. :hypnosis: That's less than a min per question. And believe me, with her questions you usually need more than a minute to try to figure out exactly what it is she's asking. This teacher loves to word questions to stump the crap out of you.

Because it was open book I started to second guess myself. A big No No. About half way thru, I get a grip and just start answering the questions. I left a mark on the answer sheet for one's I wanted to check. I was one of the first one's done.

When I left there was only 5 mins left. 95% of the class was still sitting there, and it was obvious they were no where near finishing.

I doubt if I got a decent grade. I'll be thrilled with a C.

I'm just so frustrated I want to scream. I study my :censored2: off for what feels like nothing. :grrr:

So, if testing is to determine how much a person has learned about a subject, what on earth is the reasoning behind an open book test???? If you're fast and can find the answers easily, you can pass even if you didn't know squat about the material.

I'm neither fast or can find the material easily. Since I was run over by the truck, my tracking abilities aren't much better than T's. :rolleyes:

Gawd! I needed to vent!


Well-Known Member
Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!
I won't be surprised to hear that you did better than a C. This is because you have worked hard and were well prepared. Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare. You plugged along and finished the race. Those clamoring for the so called easy way out never made it past the finish line.

Sue C

Active Member
Well, almost all of Melissa's tests the 2-1/2 years she was at college were open book or open note tests. She said her professors told them there is no way you can memorize everything and that even if you do, you forget it anyway. They said you need to be able to learn where to look for answers.

That is certainly not the way tests were done when I went to school, but I'm thinking it's become the norm.

Oh--one professor even gave them 3 "tries" to pass for each online quiz they gave them. Give me a break.

p.s. I had one teacher when I went to technical college that gave open book/open note exams. I got the highest grades in the class. I'm not bragging; I want to explain my "system." On a sheet of paper I wrote down key words/ideas from the chapters in alphabetical order and put the page # next to the word so I could look up the answers FAST. Lots of work but it paid off.


Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> She said her professors told them there is no way you can memorize everything and that even if you do, you forget it anyway.</div></div>

That's a line of bull, if I ever heard it. :rolleyes: If that were true, then why are they bothering to teach the stuff at all? *sigh*

It just frustrates me that our educational system is this way. Worries me too as these people are entering into the medical profession. :surprise:

I honestly don't know if I did okay on this one or not. But Sue, I'll try out your system in case I get another one of these open book test.

You don't even want to know how my on line classes are. You've got so much time on the tests, you can sit there and look up all the answers. But at least the instructor I have for those words the questions so that if you just try looking them up and don't use your brain, you'll still flunk. :wink: lol

I know alot of the students in this class are headed for the RN program. easy child just graduated from that program. There are no open book tests, and if you don't know the material inside and out, you flunk. Period. Gee, and they manage a graduating class every June. :hammer:


Active Member
I've done a few open book exams. One VITAL rule - YOU MUST KNOW WELL IN ADVANCE.

It is just not right to suddenly make it an open book exam at the last minute. Knowing that having books with me will be pointless, I leave my books at home when going for a standard test. I carry a pencil case and that's about it.

To study for an open book exam - you need to know your books. Know where to find stuff, know your subject well enough (not necessarily in specific facts) to be able to USE it, demonstrate that you have an understanding that goes way beyond simple rote knowledge.

Part of preparation also involves preparing your books. I took one open book exam using a friend's notes. I like his notes better than mine because he colour-coded everything. I spent time studying his notes and cross-references but the books alone would not have got me through. I had to know how to USE those books and a total novice could not have done so, in under a week.

ALL the tests I've done were timed. The open book exams were no shorter, but they were harder in a lot of ways. With one subject we had to argue the merits of scientist A's views compared to Scientist B's, given new evidence which was presented in a chart. We had the textbooks which gave intricate detail of both Scientist A's and Scientist B's work, but we had to be able to understand and interpret it, as well as take those thoughts further into originality, to be able to answer the question.

What I valued about open book exams - they were a test of our practical abilities to think, to use the knowledge gained in the subject and be able to give a logical, considered answer NOT dependent on rote knowledge. The exam was written with that in mind.

An exam designed for closed book should be written very differently. It should be asking more basic, solid questions on knowledge as well as asking the student to demonstrate what they have learned.

I've done more closed book exams than open - I prefer open, as long as I know my subject and have plenty of time to prepare. I feel that it's a more accurate test of how well I can work in that subject. In the real world, working in a job trained by the study I've done, it's an open book situation. Someone would come into my lab with a problem - I would reach for my books or check the database. To try to resolve a problem without double-checking the information is just too risky.

A surgeon removing a tumour doesn't work blind - he has the patient's scans and X-rays available to him for reference. It's the safest, most accurate way to do it. I'd rather have the surgeon who is being cautious and referring to the necessary reference material than one who is working from memory. "Hmm, I think the tumour bulges out just - here. No it doesn't. Whoops!"

They should never dump an open book exam on anyone at the last minute - that's just plain wrong. And they should never give the same exam as open or closed - that's not right either. These two exam types need a different approach in writing them, as well as studying for them and sitting them.

Open book is NOT easier. But I do think, done properly, it can be fairer. It takes out the advantage to the person with the trick memory.



New Member
<span style="color: #663366">in the regular HSs neither of my kids had open book/note tests. in the adult HS it's different.

sarah's history teacher gives open note tests, but let me tell you you have to have EXCELLENT notes to pass. if he tells you what he had for breakfast or what he's doing that weekend you better write it down. he throws in questions about those things to see if you're actually paying attention. sarah knew this going in because jarrod had taken his course as well. forewarned is forearmed lol.

this teacher doesn't make a habit of giving open note tests so this probably won't happen again. i agree that when it's technical material you need to know the stuff cold. with-subjects like history i think open note if fine, or say a bio or chem class where you need to consult your lab notes.

bottom line you studied your backside off so you were prepared for her usual testing method. in that situation it might have just been better if you'd taken her test the normal way....which it sounds like you did anyway. answered what you knew easily & went back to the things you weren't as sure of....then you could check your answers in the book/notes.

kris </span>


Well-Known Member
As a teacher, I gave both open book tests and the other kind. Ideally, a closed book test is to test things you HAVE to know and remember and master, like the multiplication tables or, if you are going to be a chemist, the periodic table. An open book test is for testing whether or not you can apply concepts. You can use the book to find the basic facts you need: they are things you would probably not memorize. But then you have to show that you can apply the idea, concept, formula, or whatever. An English teacher might let you have the novel open if you were asked to evaluate the writing. An art teacher might let you look at the paintings while you critiquing them. I don't think that teachers should expect kids to memorize everything that is taught. Often those things are background to help you understand larger concepts. If you need to know them, you can look them up. You might not need to learn that Andrew Jackson was the 7th President but you might need to know how he affected the history of the US. I think there is a place for both kinds of tests but, too often, teachers give an open book test because they haven't sufficiently taught the material and they want the kids to do well.