Seen or Open-book Examinations
The seen (as opposed of course to "unseen") examination allows students to read case-study material or prescribed texts for a defined period (probably about a week) before the date of the examination. They can discuss it and research background material, but they do not know the actual questions to be asked until they enter the examination room.
The open-book examination allows students to consult required texts (legal statutes, for example, or various tables) during the examination. The texts have to be clean, i.e. without any form of annotation.
- If examinations are required, both of these are useful devices for getting around the memorisation requirement, thereby freeing the student to concentrate on higher-level issues in revision. They retain, however, most of the security advantages of the standard examination.
- The seen paper makes it possible to present substantial amounts of information in advance, and to test the students' skills in working with it.
- Seen examinations are only slightly less anxiety-inducing than conventional ones.
- There is always the possibility of some students managing to derive an unfair advantage during the preparatory period: on the other hand, is that so different from the case of any student who revises efficiently and uses whatever resources are available?
- The preparatory material needs to be prepared with great care.
- Even more than unseen examinations, students will concentrate their revision on what they expect to find in the paper, potentially to the neglect of the rest of the module content.