7 Helpful Tips on Passing Your Take-Home Exams

open-book exam tips

I went back to school to get my MBA.  It’s crazy that a year has already passed.  One more year to go! Being that this is a hybrid MBA  program where the majority of it is spent online, we have to do a lot of take-home exams.  You probably think “You can take them at home and they are open book?  You all must get As.” Actually, these exams are hard. 

The first one that I took was for a Statistics class, and I scoffed when the professor said it was 20 questions and he has allotted three hours for it, and we might have issues finishing it.  The first question was easy so I was like three hours? When I got to the third question, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary take-home exam. That first exam took me exactly 2 hours; and 57 minutes. When I got my grade back, I had gotten a 75 (with the curve).  All of us were so happy when he curved the grades. The next exam was 88, and I was ecstatic.   Our Accounting class is almost over, and the mid-term was 21 questions and I got a B.  I plan on taking the final exam on Thursday.  This is how I prepare to take these take-home exams.

Do the Homework

I tell my teens all the time that they have to do the homework. This is especially true when math is involved. When you are in high school, maybe even college, homework is usually checked by the teachers. Therefore, you have to do it or you will get a ‘0.’ In grad school, you are not required to do them. However, if you don’t, then you are going to have a really hard time doing well on the exams. It’s also good practice to do them because you can talk to the professor during his/her office hours to understand the problems that you got stuck on.

Do the Additional Problems

My professors will usually have supplemental problems that you can do if you need more practice. Do them. Everything in this world is practice. I always do the supplemental problems because I am not the best in Math so this will help me understand the concept even more.

Ask Questions

I used to work as a Business Analyst. Being in this position, I had to ask a lot of questions to understand what clients wanted and also make sure that the developers were designing and developing a solution that made sense for what the client need was. One of my coworkers, who we are friends now, always asks when he sees me, “How many questions did you ask today?” As you can tell, I have no issues asking the professors, or my peers, questions even if I feel they are silly.

A good example was last night. I was working on homework problems for the latest class I am taking on Corporate Financial Decisions. I saw that the professor had the problems we needed to do as 2-3, 7-14. I was sitting there looking for a problem labeled “2-3.” Finally, I decided to ask my two peers. One of them responded and said it means problems 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. I felt silly, but it would have been worse if I had not asked.

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Join a Study Group

A few of my peers and I created a study group where we ask each other questions on the material. We even have a OneNote where we enter the homework problems and what we got on there so we can use that when we meet.

Schedule the Exam in Your Calendar

Usually, you are given a week to take the exam. The best way to make sure that you have ample time to take the exam and you do not have any conflicts is to schedule the exam in your calendar. If you have a partner and/or kids, make sure that you have a talk with them so that they understand that unless it’s an emergency, no one is to disturb you during that time. Also, make sure you put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and close your email.

Meditate and Stretch Before You Start and During Breaks

I use the Calm app for my meditation. Even if you do not meditate regularly, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths will help. When I was studying for my PMP, I took a boot camp course. The professor said that even if we look silly, do yoga before going into the exam room. Also, during two breaks we should take, go out there and do more yoga, close your eyes, and breathe. It works, and I think it’s one of the reasons that I was able to pass my PMP on the first try.

Celebrate After Exam is Over

Even if you don’t do as well as expected, you should still celebrate. If you take the exam in the morning, then have a nice lunch. If you do it later in the afternoon or evening, have a glass of wine, chocolate, or something that will bring a smile to your face.

I wish you luck on your take-home exams, and I know that we will do well!

open-book exam tips
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