OPEN BOOK EXAMS: A CONCEPT

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Exams have evolved for the current generation, and the trend is changing to open-book assessment. It is said that open book exams are closer to real-world problems. In a way, it is a highly efficient replication of a real-life situation where a person applies intelligence using available resources to solve a problem. The questions in a ‘No book’ system paper is set by consulting guides and approved books, whereas, in an open book system, the paper must be culled from the depths of the book. These exams are also expected to be less stressful as there will be an element of support for students.

Let us look at it from the viewpoint of a teacher. These exams will harden the work of a teacher. Teachers will have to ensure they prepare a meticulous question paper that puts the understanding of a child to the test. There must be no answer readily available in a textbook which will be provided in the exam. This process is going to eliminate ‘rote-learning’ as examinees will have to apply their understanding of concepts in limited time with the help of a book. A lot depends on teachers who will set the papers. If questions are not made which invite some thought from students, this system will not be much of a difference-maker.

If students are informed that specific questions will be from a limited section or chapter of a book, then this system will only generate more of memorizing than an application of the concept. The idea of an open book exam is for a student to look up for something quickly in book and not just find the whole answer in the exam. It creates one particular disadvantage for some students who will assume that they will discover tailor-made solutions. They will be seen flipping through pages in search of an answer, and this will waste precious time, and more pressure will be built on the student if the paper is too lengthy. Some people think that open book exams are going to make things easier. In my opinion, if questions will be smarter to compensate for a book made available, the paper will become more stringent. Actual aptitude will be put to the test. With this type of exam, a student must also be guided and trained to develop skills to face this exam. Reading skills must be worked on so that it suits open book exam needs. They will be put in a situation where they have to smartly choose whether to look up in a book for an answer or not. If these are executed in a well planned and assessed manner, students will avoid copying answers and give exams intelligently, but if they are not, students will take exams for granted.

When we look at the bigger picture, these exams are not only focusing on exams alone but also on the creation of an atmosphere of knowledge application so that students make the most of it. Hopefully, they will not become victims of it, if it does not get executed properly. The idea is also to make students think not just in terms of writing their exams but also absorb knowledge for which there is no pressure to reproduce from their memory. Looking up for things is great, but knowledge is the most important. Many students will like it, and many will oppose it, but everything is introduced according to the needs of the time. Let us hope that it gives all the students a curriculum and concept-based study environment which is relevant to them in the long run—something which people truly apply in real-life situations.

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