The Take-Home, Open-Book Test

In one of my college prep courses I found that students were very stress about taking college-type tests.  While I had to prepare the students for college level learning, I certainly didn’t wan them to drop out or fail because of their fear of tests.

One colleague suggested giving the students a take-home test, but I suspected that students would give into the temptation of using the Internet to answer the questions. Occasionally I had used open-book tests, so as an experiment I created a take-home, open book test.

A week before the test, I have the student a choice of three topics they could write an essay about. I also gave them a fill-in-the blanks form to help them organize their information for each paragraph of essay.

The learners were allowed to use information on the completed form to help them write the exam. They were not allowed another other outside material.

The small class of about 20 students did rather well on the test. I succeeded in relieving some of the stress about taking college tests. As the semester continued, I gradually took away their test aids. By the end of the semester, the students were ready, confident, and practiced with taking college tests.

Over the following semester I often used the same testing formula, and not only with pre-college students. I discovered that high school does not always adequately prepare learners for college courses. Giving the students short tests at the beginning of the semester helped bolster their confidence for the harder and more complex assignments and test that I gave later in the semester.

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