Your instructors may be planning alternative approaches to assessments to help ensure continuity of your studies. They will be available to support your understanding of any changes to assessment format that may have been made.
Some common forms of assessment such as essays, literature reviews and projects submitted online may require little or no alteration in your current approach.
Your institution may have moved to provide an open-book exam as an alternative to traditional exams. An open-book exam typically permits the use of books, notes and other reference material to help you respond to a question. However, they are often governed by a strict time limit or a window of time in which the task must be completed.
You may not have completed an open-book exam before, so let’s take a look at some tips that can help you prepare and maximise your performance.
- Review the task in detail- take note of any time restrictions, deadlines and the task weightings.
- If possible, print the task out and to make notes on it to help you structure your approach.
- Collate your notes, research papers and resources in an orderly fashion and familiarise yourself with where everything is to help you find it as quickly as possible during the assessment.
- Plan the time into the diary and make everyone in your household aware that you will be completing your open-book exam. Ask if they can refrain from using the internet during this time to maximise your connectivity and to make as little noise as possible.
- Make sure you have snacks, drinks and a comfortable place to work. Make sure your laptop is plugged in and if you have an ethernet cable available, use it to maximise your connectivity.
- Put aside your phone and any other unnecessary distractions, ideally in another room.
Let’s take a look at a couple more examples of good practice in your assignments that apply to open-book exams and other assessment approaches; paraphrasing and self-plagiarism, two commonly overlooked pitfalls.
You are likely to be well aware of good academic practice relating to plagiarism, but, you may be less aware of the dangers of self-plagiarism. In the context of your online studies, self-plagiarism refers to the re-use of your previously submitted academic work without acknowledging that it has been submitted previously.
In practical terms, this could mean reusing work you have written for an earlier assignment. For example, if you were to re-use a sentence or paragraph from an essay, project or discussion post previously submitted for another assessment without acknowledging it, this would still be classed as self-plagiarism.
Self-plagiarism is taken as seriously as plagiarism and can be identified by plagiarism detection software.
It is best to start any new assignment from a blank piece of paper to avoid the temptation to reuse content you have used in previous assignments. You are permitted to reuse research materials and notes you have reviewed for previous assessments, but your reflections on them must be new and not copied from your own existing work.
Assessments are often a cause of anxiety for many students, your institution and instructors will be working hard to support you to succeed. Be sure to reward yourself for a job well done once you have completed your assessments.
The very best of luck to you, from everyone at Pearson.