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Accessing web resources during a high-stakes secure exam: Is an open-book exam feasible?

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Lipner RS, Bovell DK, Zhang J. — American Board of Internal Medicine

Cronje N, Bauman D. — Isabel Healthcare

Pascale P. — Pearson VUE

Presented: Association of Test Publishers, March 2015

Abstract: The American Board of Internal Medicine certifies general internists and subspecialists in 19 medical disciplines. Exams are currently closed book, mostly multiple-choice, at a secure testing center. This study investigated whether an open-book exam (OBE) is feasible in a secure setting. A pilot study was conducted to explore the possibility of an OBE; 23 physicians and non-physician staff members took three 20-question modules with access to external resources, and completed a follow-up survey. The pilot testers found it easy to use the resources during the exam; however, some technical issues remain (e.g., navigation issues, issues with copy/paste, etc.). In summary, an OBE was found to be a feasible option. Future research should look at additional factors such as the type and number of resources made available, the amount of testing time, and the question type.

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