Completing final assessments

Open-book assessment

What are open-book assessments?

Unlike ‘closed-book' exams where you cannot bring anything to the task except your pens, pencils and calculators, open-book assessments allow you to have access to your notes, textbooks, references and/or other resources (including access to the internet) with you when you undertake the assessment. You might do the assessment in a university setting or in your home.

Open-book assessments usually come in two forms:

  1. Short timed assessments (1 - 2 hours), held at a university exam venue or completed remotely, with varying degrees of access to resources and references.
  2. Longer timed take-home assessment (6 hours or more), completed either on a Monash University platform, or in the format of an assignment submission.

If you are completing open book assessments at home, you will be required to complete the given task(s) without any help from or consultation with others within the specified period of time, which can vary significantly from a couple of hours to a couple of days (or longer).

Open-book assessments are commonly referred to as open-book exams. Traditionally, exams have been conducted in a specific venue and have been timed and invigilated. As more assessment moves online, when we refer to these open-book assessments, we include those that you complete on-campus and those that you may complete from home.

One of the misconceptions about open-book assessments is that they will be easier than closed-book assessments.

Open-book assessments are trickier than they look! Your examiners know that you will have all your resources in front of you, so the questions will go beyond rote-learning, or just reproducing what the textbook says. Open-book assessments are testing your ability to find relevant information quickly, and they often require you to interpret, synthesise and apply that information to solve new problems.

Below are our top tips on preparing and writing open-book assessments.

Open-book assessments are an opportunity for learning

Open book assessments challenge you in higher-order thinking to apply, synthesise and think creatively about the content of the unit. They provide opportunities for you to demonstrate your learning in open and creative ways, which is often what is asked of you in the workplace as well.

Closed-book exams

Final assessments may take the form of closed-book exams. This is a traditional format that you may have experienced in the past. This means that you are only allowed to bring your writing materials and approved equipment, such as a calculator, into the exam with you. Let's look at a few exam strategies that you might find helpful. Work through the module below for a series of strategies to help you before and during your exam.

Exam strategies FAQ


Simon Fraser University. (2018). Exam preparation: Strategies for open book exams.

University of New South Wales. (2019). Open-book and take-home exams.