ILLUSTRATION BY TRISTAN ING

Open-note tests improve student comprehension

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In the academic community, closed tests have been the standard even though it compels the student to memorize to do well in the class. However, educators should give open-note tests a chance. Allowing students to have their notes out during tests will let them gain skills such as preparation and note-taking; it also encourages them to learn the material rather than just memorizing it. 

By permitting open-note tests, students have to prepare their own notes and come to class ready with their notes on the day of their test. Through these activities, students can truly dive deep into the material rather than having a mental snapshot of it without any academic context. Rather than staying up late to review for their exam, the student can focus on taking well-organized notes throughout the unit. 

Furthermore, in many career fields, it is incredibly rare for a professional to have everything memorized by heart. Memorization is not as beneficial for the student compared to testing them for their critical analysis skills. Additionally, for a student to actually digest the information, memorization just plays as another obstacle for them to understand the lesson, as they will most likely forget what they learned after the test.

With the option of an open-note test, some argue that students will not study as hard because they know that they will have all the information easily accessible. However, instead of blaming the student, one should look at the structure of the test. If the exam is testing the student on their memorization skills, then an open-note test would not be helpful. But if the test expands on different ideas throughout the unit, the student’s notes would just act as another tool. In the end, it depends if the teacher is willing to evaluate the student on their problem solving rather than memorization. 

If schools want to prepare students for the future, they should not be testing the student on if they can cram the night before. Instead, stimulating the student to prepare for their exam with open-note tests will empower the student to encourage a more complex way of thinking.

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