The Power of Open Note Quizzes

My third year teaching I moved and started working at a new school. I think one of the reasons I’m always coming up with new ideas is because I’ve worked with so many great teachers! All these wonderful people have inspired me, but never really shocked me- except for Mr. Liptak. Mr. Liptak casually announced at lunch one day that he was giving an open note quiz his next class. Wait… those don’t just exist in movies? They’re…real? When he announced this, he wasn’t doing it for shock factor, he was just answering a question because he needed to step out of the classroom for a few minutes, and the teacher stepping in for him wanted to know what to expect.
“You give open note quizzes?” I asked him.
“Oh yea, they’re great!” He replied.
I always thought that quizzes were to test students for what they absorbed, to test them to see how much hard work they put into learning the material. I mulled over this for the next couple of days. The results? I went from being anti-open-note quiz to pro-open-note quiz.
The word “QUIZ” has such a threatening connotation with it. Students walk into your class and just THINK that they heard someone breathe the word “quiz” and they start freaking out. “Quiz.. quiz… we have a quiz today? What quiz? OMG!” So, needless to say, they take quizzes seriously. I say use that quiz power for their own good!

In giving an open note quiz, it forces students to read their notes, and the best part? They take it seriously! I think one of the best ways to learn is to by taking a test. What I mean by that is I’d be one of the students in high school who would get their graded test back and THEN understand the questions s/he got wrong. It would all sort of magically “click” together. Why not do this before the test? Give a short multiple choice open note quiz, grade it, have it back within 1-3 days and review. It’s hard to say if I’ve seen a rise in my test scores because as you know students are so different each year, so I don’t have any concrete evidence, but for what it’s worth I do have a very strong hunch that my students are grasping concepts just a little easier.