Tips on Passing Open Book Exams

Rebecca Graf
6 min readApr 21, 2018


If you’re in school, odds are you will face an open book exam at some point. This is especially true if you go to school online which is growing by leaps and bounds. Open book exams are becoming more the norm. They really easy which they can be, but they can also be the hardest and scariest of any exam you take. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips that can help you overcome them.

Read the Material

You have to have read the material to pass an open book exam especially if the professor wants you to cite your sources. Why? Because usually open book exams are timed and you need to know where to look for the information. Going in blind will be your downfall in the end.

Read the material thoroughly. Get an idea of where the information is located so you can find it quickly. You don’t need to be searching frantically for something that should be easy to find if you had read the material.

If you are told to go into a kitchen to cook a meal in a specified time period, it is always good to know ahead of time where the fridge will be, where the pantry is located, and where the utensils are stored. Think of all the time you are wasting searching for the basic materials. The same can be said about the material you are being tested on. Know that the biography of a ruler is located near the end of the material instead of searching through hundreds of pages trying to find it. You might not know exactly the page it is on, but you can narrow the search down and save minutes that you’ll need in writing the answers down.

Highlight titles

Go through the text and highlight titles that can help direct you. Pay attention to what I just said. Highlighting every title is counterproductive. They are already there in larger letters to get your attention. You want to highlight the titles that are directional signals for important material beneath them. Think about the questions that were asked during class, as forum posts, and on other exams. If the teacher pushes certain information, then highlight the titles that direct you there.

Remember that when you are completing an open book exam much of what helps you is visual. You want your eyes drawn to what is important and not what will distract you and bog you…



Rebecca Graf

Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.