Academic Success Tip - Beware of Bad Advice (open book exams)
This week’s tips focus on bad advice that is often given out by well-intentioned students. Critique these pieces of advice carefully and consider the alternatives.
Bad Advice: You don’t have to study as hard for an open-book exam because you can look up anything that you want. Why this advice is bad advice:
- You will have very little time to look up anything during the exam. Open-book exams are traps for the naïve.
- If you are only generally familiar with the material, you will not have in-depth knowledge to spot all of the issues and to support your arguments.
- “Open book” may have a limited definition (Ex. code book but no outlines or notes). "Open book" may have a limited value-added component (Ex. you may not write in your rule book that is allowed in the exam).
- Treat an open-book exam with the same reverence as a closed-book exam.
- Study the material so well that you “own it” rather than being generally familiar with it. Then, you will not need to look up much.
- If it is a code/rule course, you want to have a solid memory for at least a “condensed” version of a code section or rule because you will not have time to look up and read every code section or rule during the exam.
- If a code/rule book is allowed, make sure you have extensive practice in using that source so you are efficient in its use if you must look something up.
- Know exactly what the professor will allow you to bring to the exam and any restrictions on writing in books, etc. Then, plan how to use those resources most efficiently and effectively and only when necessary.
- Make good and creative use of tabs for code/rule books if allowed by the professor.