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No More Closed Book Exams

As midterm season comes to an end, I find myself thinking the same thing I have every year since I was a college freshman: how is taking a closed book exam going to help us in the long run? We have been in school for nearly two months now, learning and consuming new information in multiple classes. We take in what we have learned by taking notes in class, making flash cards, doing additional research online, asking the professor for help and working in groups to discuss the learned material. The best part about learning is that we are given resources to help understand the new information. This could be in the form of a textbook, a professor’s PowerPoint slide, peer-reviewed journal articles, an interactive workbook, or the professor’s words themselves. We are given an ample amount of information to allow us to learn all of this information successfully, but then we are asked to remember it all to truly see how well we know it. In my opinion, the professors are asking us to memorize the new information. Even if they are saying the exams will help us “understand” the learned information, a closed book test in which we are supposed to recall everything we learned is not practical.

In the working world, you are not going to need to memorize everything you have ever been taught. You have available resources that are going to help you when you are stuck, whether it is a program manual, a book, an online journal, etc. You will simply not need to base your actions off of only what you can remember. If you are stuck, you can look for help. ‘Working’ is simply an open book exam, and college classes should be run the same way, as this institution is made to prepare us for life outside of the classroom.  

The Daily Universe tells us that, “A study of more than 2,000 senior college students says fear of lower grades and eventual job market failure are major factors in exam stress and anxiety.” I am a college student and I can honestly say that I have been worried that an exam grade will negatively affect my future job search. The fact that students are becoming stressed about their future, due to their performance on exams, is horrible. As college students, and especially college seniors, we are supposed to be excited about the future. We should not be put in situations that make us anxious about what’s to come, because that will make us turn our heads to what we once were longing.  

I believe tests should not be closed book because that does not mirror what the working world is like outside of Siena. With the given resources, students are still able to understand and comprehend the material, and they do not need to try and remember every nit-picky detail. Take away the ammunition; take away what sets us up for stress and anxiety. Take away the closed book exams.