Young woman on a big desk, writing notes on paper. She also has a laptop open.

May 28, 2021, by stykjsk

Do Open Book Exams Boost Career Skills?

By Katy Skillen, third-year MNutr Master of Nutrition and Dietetics student

Exam season is looming… but this year I don’t have that big sense of dread that normally accompanies this time. And the reason why? Open book exams!
If there is one thing that I would like to thank Covid-19 for, it’s the emergence of a new style of examination: the open book method. In my opinion, exams have been transformed from being a bit of a memory game to an experience where we are tested on our ability to understand and make sense of knowledge. So how is this relevant to your career?

Real-life situations

I believe this style of examination closely reflects what real-life careers are like. As a dietitian, I’ll always be able to search or check information when I’m with a patient. The real skill will be in interpreting this information and relating it to the situation. Having all our notes and applying them to unseen questions in an exam is great preparation for what the workplace will be like!

Time management

Being able to cope with multiple deadlines is a vital skill for any profession. For me, I have a few exams that are overlapping in the same week, so I’m going to have to structure my time carefully. In the future, I’ll spend time working in the NHS, seeing multiple patients over the same week. Therefore, being able to prioritise tasks by knowing how much time to dedicate to each is an important skill to master, and one which these open book exams will help me to do. Whatever your career, I’m sure you can think of ways that this applies to you too!

Changing and adapting

While I do prefer open book exams, they are still very different from exams in the past. This means we’re quickly adapting to a new style of testing that we haven’t done before. Being able to thrive in these new situations is challenging but is something that we’re likely to face often in our careers. Instead of panicking about how different everything is, use this as an opportunity to show how capable you are at adjusting to new environments – this is a skill that will hold you in good stead for any job.

Stay calm!

With all our notes on hand, it’s hard to know when to stop! Being able to recognise what is relevant to the task in hand is really important. Remember to always take a step back, breathe, and don’t allow yourself to get flustered. You can do it!


Knowing when to take a break is really important with open-book exams. If we have 24 hours to complete an exam, what’s stopping us from spending every hour of the day on it? Remember to get a good night’s sleep, cook nutritious meals, and factor in some time for exercise. Knowing when to switch off from work is something that you should never neglect, no matter how hectic life can be. As many of us will graduate into a world of online working from home, knowing how to hit this ‘off’ button is even more important.


So, all that’s left to say is… good luck! Whatever format your exams are in this year, I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll be able to grow and develop new skills, for your career and life.

Do you need exam support? Check out the Student Services webpage! Or book an appointment to talk to a careers adviser if you need any help.

Posted in CovidStudent Bloggers