Why Open-Book Exams Should be the Norm During the Pandemic


(Credit: New York Times)

With North High’s shift to the hybrid model, students are at home on a regular basis. A clear area of concern is the current testing policy, and how cheating could be prevented when kids were not in class. Although radical, enacting an open book policy for exams would make things fairer for students in class and at home.  

“There is no way to ensure that the remote kids will not cheat, so to rely solely on their integrity while the students in school are being held to a different standard isn’t fair,” senior Arabella Notar-Francesco said. 

Considering North’s high-pressure atmosphere to get into the best colleges, cheating has always been a prevalent issue in Great Neck. The most prominent recent incident was in 2011 when then-current student Sam Eshaghoff took the SAT for multiple current students, making national news and prompting the College Board to make permanent changes to the test.  

Given the clear motivation to do everything possible to increase grades, and the new temptations of being at home with no proctors, it seems like an opportune time to alter the way that tests are administered and to make them all open book.

The above photo is just one example that shows just how easy it is to have a cheat sheet or notes open during a test. (Credit: smartbrief)

“Obviously, the standards can’t be all exactly the same because taking tests at home is so different than testing at school,” sophomore Sara Rafaeil said. “I think it’s important to try and create an environment for students that’s as similar as possible to that of students.”

Open-book tests have recently become more popular in universities, especially with the move to online learning. According to the Harvard Crimson, professors generally agree that open book exams are widely accepted as a more fair method for testing, especially without surefire ways to proctor exams. 

According to research done by Steve G. Green, Claudia J. Ferrante, and Kurt A. Heppard in The Journal of Effective Teaching, open-book exams can be used to enhance student learning, performance and motivation.

Open-book exams are typically more realistic, as they allow for students to be able to look up knowledge, which is what they would typically do in the real world. This ensures that students are being tested on their understanding of the material and application to new problems, not just memorization of facts. This approach puts all students on an even playing field and more importantly allows for a more thoughtful and deeper assessment of learning.

Open-book testing provides benefits for both students and teachers. It allows for students to feel less stressed and have a more relevant way of learning, and it allows teachers to keep things fair for their students, whether they are remote or in school.