Open Book Testing

I recently took a midterm exam for an online course. Online courses, of course, mean open book testing. I had to wait quite a while to get my exam score, and the teacher had hinted that grades weren’t very good. I got a little nervous, but not too bad after remembering back to my first open book test.

In fourth grade history class we were told that we would have a history test in a few days. Being the student I was, I took the book home and studied it along with whatever notes and handouts I had. When it came time for the test, I was ready. Before starting the test, the teacher said it would be open book. Everyone grabbed their textbooks and opened them up, reading for the test…everyone, that is, except me.

I figured that I had studied the subject matter enough. I remember thinking I didn’t need the book because I had this information down. I boldly accepted my test and started answering questions that I knew the answer to.

I don’t remember any point during the test where I wanted to bring my book out, though that surely would have still been an option. Instead, I dutifully finished the test and turned it in, proud of my studying skills. Now this was quite a while ago, so this is how I remember it now. I very well may have turned it in a little more nervous than usual, wishing I had used my book. I don’t at any point recall enough anxiety over the questions that I felt the need to retrieve my book.

When the tests were handed back a few days later, the teacher stated that “only one person was bold enough to fail this test.” I wasn’t worried about that person being me because I had studied and felt good about how I did on the test. Sure enough, when the tests were handed out, I had a failing grade on my paper (or really close to it). The grade was in the 60s…for an open book test.

I learned something on that day. I learned that no matter how comfortable I felt about the material presented, I was always going to use my book in an open book test. That life lesson has not failed me to this point.

When the scores were posted for this recent online midterm, my grade was an 89. I know for an open book test that’s not really overwhelmingly great. I blame the lower-than-desired grade on the fact that I cut one hour off my allowable testing time by scheduling an appointment earlier that day and then forgetting my appointment time when I started the test. I ended up only having two hours to take my three hour test.

There’s another lesson I don’t expect I’ll forget any time soon.

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