As many of our classroom courses have transitioned to remote learning via Zoom, you may have noticed that some have shifted from a closed book exam to an open book exam. This change in format has been necessary to allow people to take exams at home, but it also brings a few changes to the courses, and the way that they are taught.

With more remote learning courses on the horizon, we thought this was a perfect time to go into our remote learning exams in more depth. Read on to learn a bit more about the differences between closed book and open book exams for our various courses – and how the new open book format could be a better way to learn.

What are closed book exams?

A closed book exam is exactly what it sounds like – you can’t look things up in a book! This is probably the exam format you’ll be most familiar with from school. The idea is to memorise information that is likely to be in the exam before you go in. Then during the exam itself, you can answer the questions by applying what you’ve learned, such as specific laws or actions you would take in different scenarios.

Closed book exams are both familiar and intimidating. Many people have bad memories of exams at school, and may think that they aren’t good at them. They can also make the learning process more difficult, as the best way to get people to memorise facts is often by repetition, which can be boring. However, there are many people who are also comfortable with closed book exams, and find memorisation fairly easy.

What are open book exams?

Open book exams are exams which allow you to refer to study materials such as textbooks during the exam. Instead of reciting information that you have memorised, open book exams focus on how well you understand what you’ve learned, and how you can use it. While you have all the facts in front of you, an open book exam uses more in-depth questions to prove that you understand the facts, and know how they apply to different situations.

Open book exams can be intimidating at first, as they are significantly different from closed book exams. The questions tend to ask you hypotheticals, where you describe how you would approach a certain problem and what the relevant laws would be, rather than just naming and describing laws and processes. This also requires a different approach to learning, which will benefit some and be harder for others. However, many learners much prefer this format, as it involves less pressure to remember specific details.

Which exams now use the open book format?

The following remote learning exams are now open book (as of March 2021):

  • NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety
  • NEBOSH Certificate in Fire Safety
  • NEBOSH Health and Safety Management for Construction

How open book exams could improve your training

The great benefit of an open book exam is how it changes the way we train our learners. While we’ve always worked to ensure our training is as fun and engaging as possible, the closed book exams meant there had to be an element of repetition. Without memorising key facts, the closed book exams would be very difficult to pass, so we had to spend a lot of time drilling them into our learners – time we would rather spend engaging with the material.

The open book exam format allows us to focus more on understanding safety law and processes, and less on names and facts. Our open book training courses now give you a much deeper understanding of safety than was possible using the old format, and are more engaging as a result. It also leaves more time for learners to ask questions, and for practical demonstrations of how safety laws work in a real world setting.

Open book exams mean our training feels less like the exam preparation you would have done at school, something which can make many people feel uncomfortable. Instead of worrying that you’ll forget the information you need, open book exams allow learners to feel more comfortable and secure in their understanding of the subject. This is something that’s enhanced by learning via Zoom, which is a more comfortable and relaxed environment than the classroom.

Book a remote learning course today

Our remote learning courses have been more popular than we could ever anticipate, and it owes a lot to the open book format. Courses are now more interactive, more engaging and more enjoyable for learners than ever – and you’ll be even better equipped to pass your exams. 

As a NEBOSH Gold Learning Partner and accredited training centre, you can be sure that you’ll receive the highest quality tuition from SAMS. To view our full range of remote learning courses and book your place, visit our newly revamped Training page, or get in touch with us today.