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  • 6 Strategies to Handle Open Book Financial Management Exam

    Unlike closed book exams, where students rely on their memory to answer the exam questions, students are allowed to bring notes and other resources to the exam room in open book exams. This does not mean that the exams will be easier since you have the resources; they may even be more difficult.
    Closed book exams test your ability to recall concepts taught in class. Open book exams on the other hand test your ability to find and apply the concepts learned in financial management to the exam questions. The questions may, therefore, not be as direct as some may think.
    So, what strategies can you apply to handle open book assignments?

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    1. Understand the exam expectations

    Understand what is expected of you in the exam to prepare for it properly. First, find out when you will do the exam to plan the time you will set apart for studying the course materials. Although you can bring notes into the classroom, you still need to read over them to know where the different concepts are explained. This will save you time when doing the exam. Next, learn the time limits for the exam; how long do you have to complete the exam? If you can, find out the types of questions you will handle, whether multiple choice, short answer, long answer, or application questions.

    Find out the materials you will be allowed to bring to the exam. Some lecturers may allow notes and texts, while others may allow other resources like textbooks and online web sources. For financial management, some topics require calculations, so it’s important not only to have notes but also knowledge of how to go about the calculations. Hence the need to understand exam expectations. Financial management exam help sites online can help you learn the different things expected of you in an exam. This can be instrumental in your preparations.

    2. Prepare study notes

    In an open book exam, having extensive notes and textbooks that are not summarized can be more of a hindrance than an asset. Ensure that you have prepared short and easy-to-read study notes beforehand. Preparing study notes is one way of learning the concepts and objectives of the financial management course. Therefore, you will know how to apply the concepts to the exam questions. Next, the study notes will help shorten concepts into bite-sized ideas that will be easy to reference in your exam.

    Shorten financial management concepts without stripping away important definitions. For mathematical concepts like, say, the time value of money, simply write down the formulas that can be tested and learn how they are used. Do not simply cram; even though you have your notes, your exam will have a time limit that will not allow comprehension time. You can indicate in your notes pages in your books that were too long to summarize for ease of reference in the exam. Another example is, having a question that asks you to explain the three capital budgeting methods; payback method, NPV method, and IRR method, and show calculations. It will not be enough to have notes on the above but to also know how you can calculate the mathematics that comes with it.

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    3. Familiarize yourself with key concepts

    Practice and practice more before the exam room. Familiarize yourself with every key concept in your financial management course. Go through the course objectives as they tell you what is expected of you. This will help you know the application questions in your exam—mathematical practice concepts. You can use available online tutors for exam help to help you better familiarize yourself with the key concepts.

    Regardless of whether you will have reference materials or not, knowing the concepts is important. Otherwise, you will spend time researching your answer and answering the questions. You can expect questions asking you to make recommendations on investments a company should make based on available information. This application question would require you to know about the payback method and rates of return concepts. This would be easy if you had anticipated this and practiced with time limits.

    4. Organize your references

    Extensive notes and books may hinder performance more than they can be beneficial. More is not always better when it comes to reading materials. Excessive materials will only distract you and clutter your workspace and even make you waste time finding facts that are unnecessary in the exam. Ensure that you organize your references in an easy way to go through and find the necessary answers. Do not forget the time limit you have in the exam room. Use sticky notes to show where in the reference book important concepts are. You can even color code them for easier identification.

    Select what you will bring to the exam carefully. Having an outline of your resources can make it easier for you to find the answers you need for the exam. When you begin your test, the most important thing is to locate information, not to study it. You can highlight parts of the book that cover important subjects if the instructions allow it. Since a financial management exam will involve calculations, keep important formulas separate during the test to make it easier for you to access them.

    5. Manage your time

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    The biggest challenge in this exam will be the time limit. It’s upon you to divide your time between the set of questions given. Determine the time it will take to research and tackle the different questions. That way, you will not be overwhelmed. This is why it is important to study and prepare notes beforehand. You will know where exactly to look for the answers you need. Practicing will help you know how to apply different financial management concepts to the questions.

    Start with the questions you are familiar with. Even though you have the notes and books with the answers, do not over-answer and over-explain your point. Be accurate but also be precise. You can start with straightforward questions like those asking for definitions. A question asking about the importance of the concept of Net Present Value in decision-making is also straightforward. Answer that before answering the application questions, as this will help save time. Spend any extra time proofreading and referencing your work.

    6. Properly reference your work.

    Just because you can use textbooks and, in some cases, web sources, does not mean you should plagiarize other authors’ work for concepts where you cannot paraphrase due to a change in the meaning of the words, use quotations, or in-text citations. Do not pass another author’s work as your own. This is why you must have studied before; when you have understood a concept well, you can paraphrase it well.

    Also, remember that copying extremely long paragraphs and blocks of text will be a waste of time; simply condense and paraphrase only what is necessary. You could lose marks in your financial management exam for trying to pass plagiarized work as your own.

    Key challenges of an open-book exam

    • Time limit
      Even with enough notes, textbooks, and resources, time may be a challenge for open book exams. Do not get too swept up in long texts. Instead, only include important and necessary concepts.
    • Application questions
      The application questions require you to apply concepts learned to provided scenarios. It will not be enough to copy from your reading resources. These questions seek comprehension, meaning studying beforehand.


    Open book exams in financial management will be made easier if you have studied, planned your notes and references, and if you manage your time properly. There are some challenges like time limits and indirect questions you may face. Always ensure you are familiar with finance concepts for ease of handling the exam.

    Sophia J.

    This does not seem that difficult. I wish we have an open book test soon!

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