Open book assessment preparation for chemistry students

R20–0775 CHEM20711



In this session we will cover approaches to preparing and being prepared for assessments.

Specifically, the session will cover strategies to support you identifying

  • what you need to know for the assessment.
  • how you will learn the content.
  • how you will focus upon the assessments.

As students that are approaching assessments we want you to feel comfortable about what to expect. To prepare you for that time we are going to do a series of activities that will focus your assessment preparation. So that you can be purposeful in your preparation and in how you address the assessment when the time comes.

To get us started I want you to anonymously share how you feel about the assessments that you have coming up. Add a post it to the Jamboard to let us know what your primary concern is.

1. Identifying what you need to know

The first step of preparing for assessments is having a method of evaluating what you already know and what you need to know. Then you can take action to address any needs:

  1. What do you know?
  2. What do you need to know/learn?
  3. How will you learn that?
  4. How often will you practice/test what you know?
  5. How will you check what you know?

To identify how you will do this you can use KWH. It is a strategy to assist you in establishing what you already know, what you need to know and how you will learn what you need to know. It is helpful to do before planning your revision.

To help you identify topics for revision you can look at your unit and programme aims. You might find information about the content of your assessment in Blackboard, look for marking criteria, past papers, lecture notes and look at your previous assessments and feedback.

Share the slide with the example.


Using the digital handout you should reflect upon what you have learnt this semester. Share this link in chat

The first step is to look at what you know in relation to that unit.

1.Identify what you know already from the topics that you have learnt this semester and type these in the ‘K’ column and type them in or use a piece of paper with 3 columns.4 mins

Remind the students to move on to W.

2. Then list where the gaps are in your knowledge to capture what you want to know in the ‘W’ column. What knowledge are you unsure about/what course outcomes and content could you not talk or write about. 4 mins

We will add to H later.

Remind the students that they can return to this document later on their own.

The content that the students have listed in the W column is the area on which they can focus their attention when preparing for their assessments. But you should also practice retrieving the information in the K column.

KWH form to establish what students know, what they need to learn and how they will learn it.
Know, Want to know, How (KWH) strategy

2. Activities to prepare for an assessment

Now you know what content from your course you need to learn we are now going to think about what activities you can engage in to practice retrieving that information efficiently.

You can deepen your understanding of material by engaging in different methods of practising your retrieval of the course content and there are lots of ways to do this.


1. What activities have helped you prepare for assessments previously? Send students into break out rooms to discuss how they have revised previously. What works well to help you revise?

Each break out should share how they have approached revision on the Jamboard window 2 using sticky notes.

Share the link to the Jamboard in chat.

Return the students to the central space and ask them to browse what has been added to the Jamboard.

The students should make a note of the useful activities they might use to prepare for assessments. These should be added to individual KWH handout in the How column. Spend 3 minutes doing this.

This places students in a strong position to draft a coherent study plan covering the content that has been identified as important to learn.

3. Create a study plan

A study plan is incredibly useful as you approach an assessment and it is never too late to prepare one. One of the most important things to remember about creating a study plan is that you are in control of that plan, both what you do and how you do it.

So you can always amend it.

To do this effectively you can use what is called spaced practice and interleaving. Spaced retrieval is a strategy that can benefit you, research has shown that spending short but frequent amounts of time learning is a better approach to retaining information within the human long-term memory. This coupled with mixing up what you are learning so that you learn material in a different order, known as interleaving, will enable you to create an effective study plan.

To hear how to put these strategies into practice we suggest that you read this post from Jain in the Library’s Student Team.

Share this link in the chat

Activity: create your own plan

We would like you to create your own personalised study plan that you can use for your end of semester assessments.

Make a plan using a weekly planner

Share this link in chat

Take the activities that you identified and that Jain featured in her post and together with the content that you want to learn from the previous KWH activities add them to you planner.

Create plans to prepare for the assessment period and for during the assessments. Your plan could outline which assessment you are going to cover and when. Take advantage of the open assessment format and plan your work so that you have a coherent and finished piece of work to submit. Clearly indicate on your plan when your deadlines are so that you can allow time to read through your work before you submit.

Manage your time during an open assessment

This year’s assessments are slightly different then have been in the past. As you approach assessment time then it is important for you to keep your focus when you might be addressing assessments that are available concurrently.

One of the things that is often tempting when we have conflicting tasks is to try to do a bit on each in an effort to ‘multitask’. But we are mistaken in believing that this is a efficient way to address tasks. This is why a plan is so important.

Send the students into break out rooms to do the following

To recognise that it takes longer to perform one task please have a go at the following task (taken from The Learning Scientists).

Task 1: Count from 1–26

Task 2: Recite the alphabet A-Z

Task 3: Switch the letters and numbers 1, A, 2, B etc.

Did Task 3 take more than twice as long as Tasks 1 and 2?

When you are planning how to approach your assessments, consider committing time to each individual assessment rather than doing a little on each.

The students should now read the post on open assessments our Student Team have written. Spend a short time reading through this post from them to get a student’s view on assessment. Share the post in the chat

Then ask the students to discuss what approaches they might take from what they have read about and apply to their assessments.

Return students to the main room and the students should now return to the Jamboard to make a note of what they will do next to prepare for their assessments.

In summary

It is never too late to start thinking about preparing for your assessments and making an effort to evaluate what you need to learn is a good starting point. This can be built upon but making a plan of activity to better understand your subject, mixing up subjects and studying in smaller and more frequent bursts. Finally avoid multi-tasking and focus upon one task at a time should your assessments overlap in any way.

To close

Share the slide that details the assessment support offered by the Library. Highlight Revise Together and the Assessment support page on the Library website. Students can contact us using chat from the Library web site.



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