How to Prepare for an Open Book Exam (AD3, PD3)

The open book exam format is relevant to AD3 and PD3. The exam consists of a selection of unseen questions based on pre-released case studies. Open book exams are designed to test your ability to identify and apply information and your own knowledge.

In the same way that you would prepare for a closed-book exam you will need to research, manage your time effectively, focus your thinking and in this case, you can also take in a selection of pre-prepared notes to help you.

Preparation is key

You will have had 4 weeks to analyse the case study (each case approx. 15 pages in length). During this time, you will need to analyse:

·        The focal organisations macro environment (STEEPLE)

·        The competitive environment (Porter’s five forces)

·        A resource audit (not only people)

·        A SWOT analysis

Most of the case studies feature well known organisations and we would recommend that you research these online as well as using the many articles that are listed in the bibliography.

We highly recommend that you prepare a set of notes to take into the exam with you. It is often handy to refer to the learning objectives when writing these notes.

Avoid bringing your books into the exam. You will spend more time flicking through pages trying to find information rather than focusing on the task at hand. Instead bring along your annotated case study and a carefully prepared set of notes.

The examiners want to read your interpretation of the answers, not a carbon copy of the model questions in your text books. Try to just refer to the case study rather than going into detail. The examiners will be familiar with the cases. You must demonstrate your problem-solving skills, critical thinking and how you would apply this in relation to the case you have been given.

Open book exams may appear like an easy option - don’t fool yourself. In order to be best equipped you will need to really focus on a deep and detailed analysis of the case study and prepare a set of notes heavily focused on the learning objectives. If you do all of the above you will be successful.


General exam advice

  • Always bring at least 3 pens

  • A bottle of water

  • Arrive at least 20 minutes before your exam starts

  • Make sure you double check where your exam is taking place.

  • Remember you cannot take your phone in with you!

Evie de Belgeonne