Test Taking Strategies For College Take-home Exams

Open book exams - not as easy as students might think! Here's a guide to help college students succeed on take-home exams.

A college take-home exam? It seems like that should be much easier than multiple-choice tests or essay exams since, after all, it's an open-book test. However, take-home exams may actually be more difficult simply because the professor expects more from students.

Here are some test-taking strategies to help students master a college take-home exam.

Understand Exam Directions

First, it's important to read the directions carefully and to ask questions if anything is unclear. Professors may be willing to give students some leeway if they don't follow directions perfectly during an in-class exam. Not so with a take-home test, where time constraints are no excuse for misunderstanding a question.

One mistake that students make with take-home exams is to answer the questions, not asking a college essay writer to help at the last minute without even looking at the questions. Even if a student doesn't get to the test right away, it's important to look over the questions immediately and clear up any questions with the professor. If a student looks at the questions for the first time at 11:00 p.m. the night before the test is due, there's no time to ask questions.

Application Versus Memorization: What The Teacher Is Looking For

When an instructor gives a take-home exam, the purpose of doing so probably isn't looking for the student to regurgitate facts from the book. What would the point of this be, since the books are available? Instead, the teacher wants to see that the student really understands the material and that the student can apply the material to examples and ideas.

For example, take a history class about contemporary wars. In an in-class exam, if the teacher were looking for evidence of memorization, she might ask students to name some important battles and war strategies used during World War II.

In contrast, on a take-home exam, there's no point in seeing if a student can list this information since it's in the book. Instead, the teacher wants to see if the student can apply the information to a related situation, such as the War in Iraq. Students might expect to see assignment help questions like this:

  • Compare and contrast some of the strategies used by generals in World War II to strategies used by generals during the War in Iraq. Explain how the different historical situations, fighting conditions, and cultures have impacted these strategies.
  • What are some of the war strategy lessons learned during World War II that you feel may be useful in conflicts around the world today? Explain why.
  • Imagine that you were a soldier fighting during World War II in France that was suddenly transplanted to the war zone in Iraq or Afghanistan. What new skills would you need to learn? What lessons from fighting in World War II might be helpful, and what lessons will need to be re-learned?

Preparing For A Take-Home Exam

With a take-home exam coming up, students may feel like there's no need to prepare for it, but this isn't the case. Like any other assignment help, it helps immensely if students keep up with the reading load and take effective class notes. Otherwise, students will be scrambling at the last minute to try to figure out how all the material fits together, and that's no easy task.

It's also very important for students to make sure they aren't missing information. If a class is missed, get the notes. Look over notes and readings to make sure there aren't any major ideas that don't make sense.

For a class with a take-home exam, it's always important to keep "big picture" questions in mind. Since students will be tested on applying the material, it's important to understand the main themes of the readings and lecture notes and how everything fits together. Periodically, students should ask themselves, "What's the point?" It can be helpful to make a rough outline of notes and readings with an eye on how everything fits together.

The Value Of Take-Home Exams

Take-home exams are potentially a valuable exercise because they let students concentrate on demonstrating their knowledge of the material. A good take-home exam guide helps a student retain information. Years from now, when the student is watching a general on the news talk about war strategy, she'll be able to form an educated opinion of whether the strategy is a good idea. That's a whole lot more useful than being able to remember the names and dates of World War II battles.

Thus, make the most out of this learning opportunity. When a take-home exam arrives, clarify the questions with the professor, Prepare for the test by thinking about "big picture" questions, and remember that the point is to analyze, not to memorize.