I only have one final this semester.
On top of that, it’s an open-note final.
Everyone I tell strikes back with instant jealousy, and with good reason. They bring up their four exams and complain about how there aren’t enough hours in a day for them to review all of their material. While I only have one final, I do have plenty of essays and writing assignments wrapping up my semester. I’m not entirely off the hook, but I feel thankful that I can access my notes and textbook during the final, and it may not be for the reason you think.
I completely see the value of final exams.
They act as a finish line that students must cross at the end of the semester. Finals give students a strict reason to focus and apply themselves throughout the semester. They hold students accountable for learning the content they were taught.
However, I don’t think that finals need to stress students out as much as they often do. Students often cram a heavy amount of material in a short period of time. This just presents itself as memorization, rather than learning. According to Ryerson University, open-note finals emphasize higher order skills in students. In my experience with open-note exams, I focus on learning the fundamentals of concepts and understanding the way things work, rather than memorizing lists or examples.
As I study for this exam, I realize that I feel no stress when I study.
Sure, I push myself to get a good grade. But I also enjoy reviewing the content both because the material is interesting and I don’t feel as much pressure.
Ryerson lists more advantages of allowing students to access their notes or textbook for a final including that professors can include a greater variety of subjects in exams. As students study and prepare for tests on a variety of subjects, they become experts in all of them. I definitely feel this for my final, which is for a linguistic anthropology class. This class has so many specifics that students have to reference a chart and other resources for, that if it wasn’t open-note, the main focus of my studying would be on memorizing monotonous details of the chart that don’t truly reflect my understanding of the subject.
Questions on open-note tests can be longer and ask students to analyze further.
If I can access my notes for the skeleton of a concept, then I can analyze and elaborate with more complex questions. This ensures that I understood everything well enough to synthesize it and that I have a well-rounded understanding of the concept.
One of the major advantages of open-note exams is that the skills gained from taking these are more applicable in the real world. This is according to research conducted on the effect of open-book exams on enhancing student learning. In my future, I will rarely, if ever, be forced to funnel information without access to any resources. Many professionals have knowledge of the general areas of their field and their specialization, but also reference external resources for verification or particular information.
Open-note exams emulate this experience and process more effectively than traditional exams.
While professors and students have their preferences when it comes to exams and finals, I appreciate the open-note approach. I think it has allowed me to be a better learner and test taker. To my open-note final and to my professor, a huge thank you for choosing this method and in turn, allowing me to thoroughly learn and apply the information.