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Virtual examinations Do online open-book tests really benefit students

With the pandemic kicking in, open-book examinations have taken over the realm of online examinations in several institutes. Due to the very nature of this kind of examinations, the system has come under criticism among some segments. However, open-book examinations can be advantageous, when you consider the pros over their cons and the way students keep learning.

During the COVID-19 era, the educational infrastructure has witnessed a rapid digitization. With the country under lockdown to combat the pandemic, online examinations have ensured the continuity of education for students. Now, the question is, do students actually benefit from open-book tests?

To understand the relative advantages of open-book examinations, let’s take a look at the entire process.

Advantages of open book examinations

Have a look at the several advantages of open-book examinations

  • Easy to recall: During open-book examinations, students enjoy the freedom to check out facts with the books. Therefore, they need not mug up the study materials. In most of the reputed institutions such as Swarnprastha, the examiners come up with analytical questions. This implies that students would have to know their chapters comprehensively to come up with a suitable answer. Although the answers are easy to recall, the process involves understanding the respective chapters.
  • Students get a second chance: Rather than recalling the respective chapters, students get the chance to gather the necessary knowledge. Therefore, open-book examinations provide them with the opportunity to obtain knowledge on a second chance. However, one needs to know the basics, so that he/she can retrieve the necessary information from the respective book or source. Unless a student is well-versed with a chapter, it would not be possible to reproduce the answers within the stipulated time from the source.
  • Improves retrieval skills: The overall mechanism of online examinations involving open book tests enables students remember their lessons for a longer duration. Besides, they benefit from resourceful processes while collecting relevant information for their examinations. This might be scanning through websites, their text books or notes, from where they can obtain the necessary information to be presented in the examination.

Disadvantages of open book examinations

Many people still believe in the myth that open book examinations are equivalent to copying. However, they need to understand that a student can answer questions in an open book examination only when he or she is well-acquainted with the chapter. Regardless of all opinions, check out the apparent disadvantages of open book examinations.

  • Unsure about equality: Students need access to books during open book examinations. Considering the high cost of certain books, it is uncertain whether or not all the students get access to the study materials. Eventually, not all the students might be well-prepared for the examinations.
  • Time-consuming process: At times, open book examinations turn out to be problematic. Students who are unprepared keep looking out for books or study materials. They end up with an incomplete paper, and are unable to answer all the questions. However, students who prepare well for the exam do not face such issues.
  • Impersonation: During online examinations, the authorities often find it difficult to validate the identity of the person answering the questions. Impersonation has emerged to be one of the severe threats for open-book examinations. However, reputed institutions incorporate advanced technologies to mitigate such issues.


Impact of open book examinations on learning strategies

With open-book examinations, education becomes an effective and pleasurable activity. The process generates a greater degree of engagement among students. Most importantly, it indicates that students need to study to prepare for the examination. The reason is, students firstly need to understand the concepts to use them in problem-solving.

Therefore, open book examinations foster the right kind of mindset in both teaching and learning. This has proven to be an effective strategy to prevent the students from mugging and reproduce the knowledge in examinations. It brings about a change in the overall learning attitude of the students.

Considerations to formulate open book examinations

Reputed institutions in India, such as Swarnprastha, have successfully deployed the open book examination model. The authorities are seasoned enough in this model of the examination. They devise the questions to evaluate the degree of application and interpretation of knowledge and critical thinking. In some of the examinations, the reputed educational institutes deploy case-oriented questions. This tests the students for their ability to critically reason up situations.

With unambiguous and clear questions, the established organizations mitigate the scope of confusion that delays the progress of students. Therefore, virtual tests involving open book examinations are far more effective, as compared to the traditional ones.


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