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How to Approach Open Book Exams By Harry Wilde

I thought I would share and put together my steps to approaching these exams. 

As we all know, the current government measures could be in place for at least another couple months. Obviously given the current situation, it is very difficult to know when these measures will be relaxed and when things will go back to normal. 

For us university students, during this time, many of us are due to sit exams. Consequently, as a law student, the SRA has stated that it would not be possible to cancel exams for those studying law degrees. Thus, many of us have to sit our exams from home in an open book format. I know this is completely different for many of us, and as a result, many universities have adopted a no-detriment policy, whereby students can achieve no less than their average results already achieves, so long as they exceed the minimum pass mark of 40%.

Not all universities have taken this approach which I feel puts many at a disadvantage.

1. Exam Equipment 

I think that it is essential to ensure that you have all that you need in front of you.

For me this is the following:

  • My pencil case 

  • Highlighters

  • Post it notes

  • Revision cards

  • Book markers 

I would recommend that you use post it notes, revision diagrams and sticky notes to mark only the essential information that you may need to refer back to during the exam. These methods will ensure that your notes are well put together and allow you to look through them with a clear mind.

2. Exam Materials

  • Lecture and Seminar notes

  • Highlighted Readings

  • Notes and Revision Plans

  • Statute Book (where appropriate)

Obviously, the most important thing is to ensure that you have all of correct notes in front of you. But a critical tip is not to overload yourself. Make sure you have all that you need but restrict the amount of loose paper, revision books and textbooks you have in front of you. This is important because it will allow you to access only the relevant information required in your exam. It may seem like a good idea to have all your materials available to you in front of you but I would advise against this. 

Personally, there is nothing worse than searching through notes and endless amounts of paper for information to use in your exam so I would recommend condensing these down to just a few pieces of paper. 

3. Exam Preparation 

  • Revision on applicable topics

  • Condensing notes and key materials

  • Compete required/background readings

I think that it is important to make the correct preparation. This is very difficult as a lot of us have not experienced this type of assessment before. But it is crucial to have the same mindset you would have if you were to sit and exam at university in exam conditions. This means that you should use the weeks before your exam to revise as and when you normally would. Take the process like you would any other exams, and most importantly.. Do not rely solely upon your notes. The examiners will look for good general knowledge and fluidity throughout your exams. It will be apparent to them if you have merged your notes together and used them to answer the question. 

4. Study Environment 

  • Allocated Exam/Study Space

  • Practice Working in that Environment 

  • Make sure you’re comfortable and focused within that Environment

Setting up a quite study area somewhere in your house will ensure that you’re not disturbed and that you stay focused on what is in front of you. Personally, I am using this time now to study and practice working in my chosen exam space. This allows me to familiarise myself with this particular environment so on the day of my exam, I will be completely engaged and not distracted by the environment around me.

These are my 5 tips to follow for the open book exam process. I hope this gives is helpful to a few of you! Let me know what you think and if you follow any other steps. 

Drop me a message on Instagram if you have any questions - @harryslawife

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