At-home open-book written work (long form)

An example of this approach, plus: pros and cons; requirements; resistance to academic misconduct and suggestions for making this approach more robust.


A question is set and the student has a 24 hour period to complete a piece of work that might reasonably be expected to take 3 hours. Usually it is expected that it is the student’s own work. The extended period is to allow for differences in access to study facilities or a suitable environment, and time zones.

This method can be used for essay questions, and for some assessments with multiple short questions where designed so that answers cannot simply be pulled from books or the Internet.


‘Workplace realistic’. Allows thought and reflection and some research, rather than being a pure memory test.


Although the guidance may be that it is a 3-hour question, the reality is that students spend a much more extended time on it. This may disadvantage students who have poorer study circumstances.

Not suitable for questions where the answer can be Googled. The Internet is a remarkably powerful source of answers to even quite complex questions now.

Susceptible to various forms of misconduct (see below).


Clear instructions to students about what is acceptable or not acceptable in seeking advice online, or from other individuals, including fellow students, family members, others.

Formative practice at writing and submitting work within the time constraints, and on the platform used.

Resistance to academic misconduct

Susceptible to conferring with peers and others, injection of ideas and text from others, and to plagiarism (with time to camouflage it) and commissioned writing (essay mills).

Making it more robust

  • Time-limiting? Anecdotally, students report that longer duration tests are often associated with communications between them, or ‘help at home’ from family members or others. The availability of such support  ven where it is made clear that this is not OK.
  • Shorter duration? unfortunately cannot prevent conferring and may paradoxically drive students under duress to seek more help, including paid-for input. Informal reports suggest that conferring with other students about approach may be very common. Certainly many students are concerned that this could be happening. Literature suggests that shorter duration does not necessarily reduce the risk of misconduct.
  • Other forms of assessment? Best mitigation is for the course or programme to include other forms of assessment that overlap the same learning outcomes. Could any of the other forms of assessment listed on the Assessment Types be useful?
  • See also  Minimising Cheating