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Open-Book Assessment

An open-book assessment (OBA) is one where students may refer to class notes, textbooks, primary or secondary readings, and/or access the internet during the exam period. OBAs may take place either over a number of hours/days or in a compressed exam window. Reference to take-home exams overlaps with the concept of open-book exams, but it is important to remember that some open-book exams are completed under face-to-face exam conditions. 

Typically used to…. 

...assess what you can ‘do’ with your knowledge (such as how you can adapt/manipulate/apply your learning in particular contexts) rather than showcase ‘what’ you know. 

Key considerations when preparing for open-book assessments

When preparing for an open-book assessment, always refer to the guidelines and requirements provided by your lecturer, keeping the following points in mind: 

  • Is the assessment being used for formative or summative assessment purposes (or both!) 
  • If your assessment contributes to your final grade (i.e. is being used for summative assessment), how much is it worth? 
  • What criteria is being used to assess your assessment? Has a rubric been provided? 
  • Are there any Trinity guides/supports that might be useful to review in advance? 
  • When is the assessment? Does the exam span a “window” of time? (E.g. 24/48 hours) 
  • What format is the assessment?  
  • Are you clear about referencing requirements? 
  • What resources do you need/are you allowed to refer  to during the exam window? 
  • Does the assessment require you to use examples instead of ‘just’ theory alone? 
  • Will the assessment/ parts of the assignment have one right answer, or will it require personal opinion/judgement? 
  • Any resources/notes you can create to act as a one-stop shop for all the key information you will need are really helpful. This summary document doesn’t need to have everything in it, but just enough to kickstart your memory. 


Trinity-supported tools:  

Turnitin is accessible through Blackboard
Google Docs and MS Word are accessible via MyZone

Examples of open-book assessment

  • Scenario-based, application-based or case-based questions. 
  • Questions requiring students to apply their critical reasoning skills in response to a trigger scenario. 
  • Questions requiring students to consider scenarios from a professional/ patient/alternative perspective e.g. an expert advisor or key decision maker). 
  • Questions replicating real-world conditions or drawing on legal or administrative issues, clinical or professional standards, industry regulations or ethical considerations. 
  • Questions requiring interpretation or application of qualitative or quantitative data, evidence or frameworks. 


Coming soon

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