Wenzdae Wendling

Open-note tests should stay

October 18, 2021

Nearly all of my exams have been open-note since the pandemic began.

As classes went back to more traditional exams, I realized open-note testing is better than the traditional style.

I had my first traditional exam since the start of the pandemic in my wildlife biology class two weeks ago. 

I felt confident in this subject because of consistent scores and reasonable workload throughout last year. I assumed that if I put in a similar effort, my grades would stay the same.

I found the test harder than before. I had a very busy week surrounding the test. 

When I got my test scores back, it turned out I had done significantly worse than I expected, with a 66% instead of the 80s I had been accustomed to. I wondered why I did so badly on a test in one of my strongest subjects. 

I believe this was because the test was a traditional, closed-note exam. 

Open-note tests focus on application of information rather than memorization, which is better for students and professors.

Students are not living textbooks. Fact and vocab word memorization is not an accurate representation of the knowledge a person has on a subject. 

It doesn’t make sense to memorize specific details for test questions that may never come up again in a career. 

No employer is going to sit down and ask a potential hire to define onomatopoeia. They are going to ask about ways the potential hire applied their knowledge.

An open-note test judges your ability to combine ideas from a course into synthesized responses. 

I did not stress about making time to study over the pandemic since I used my notes on exams.

UVM professors, bring back online exams so we can apply our knowledge of the subject instead of regurgitating facts we drilled into our brains that will soon be forgotten.

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