Open Exams

An open examination is one in which candidates may have access to any printed or written material and a calculator during the examination.

Note, it would be a serious mistake to assume that you won't have to know the materials or study for an open book exam! 

How do I prepare for an open exam?

You must prepare as if you were sitting a closed exam.

Know your subject

If you do not know your subject matter when you are actually doing the exam, the notes and books that you take in with you will be of little help.

Know what you have to know

Use the objectives at the beginning of each module or in the course specification to help you determine what is important.

Make a summary

Make sure that your summary is concise, easily accessed in the exam; include in the summary 

  • important formulas for quick reference
  • examples you have difficulty with
  • examples of graphs or diagrams.

Your summary should be designed to suit your needs.

Know your books

Know your way around your relevant study materials: 

  • identify the appropriate sections so that you can access them during the exam without having to search the text. 
  • use coloured highlighter pens, sticky paper notes, or, if necessary, brief annotations to mark important pages in the study books. 

Know how to use your calculator efficiently and effectively

Do a practice exam 

Practice the exam under simulated exam conditions at home. See Past Exam papers on USQConnect Could you quickly access the facts you needed from your summary and study materials?  If not you will need to revise them.

Ask for help

Use the support resources you have available to you.

How do I sit for an open book exam?

Use the perusal time to:

  • read the exam instructions and follow them
  • read through the entire exam. 
  • tick the questions you can do easily and cross those you cannot
  • note the number of marks for each question and work out a rough time for each

  Schedule your time.

  • give more time to questions worth more
  • do the easiest questions first
  • clearly mark questions you leave out so that you can return to them later
  • read each question very carefully.


  • check your answer
  • check that you answered the right number of questions 

During the exam, spend your time writing, not reading and looking up information.