ABE is ensuring no one is left behind during the Covid-19 pandemic

It is our absolute priority to ensure your education is not delayed by the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. ABE and your local study centre want you to proceed with your assessments and studies, so you can continue to develop those crucial business and entrepreneurship skills, whilst also ensuring that your health and safety is not in any way put at risk.  We are determined to provide solutions that ensure no one is left behind.

2020: open-book exams can be taken from home* 

PDF icon Download our quick open-book exam frequently asked questions sheet

PDF icon Download our detailed Guide to Studying and Completing Open-book Exams here.

For 2020 we will run our assessment session as open-book exams which can be taken from home, this provides a safe, convenient and academically robust solution which allows for the rapidly changing landscape and potential disruption caused by COVID-19.

Read on for:

How open-book exams work

  • Assessments will be an open-book exam which will be uploaded onto the portal on 15th May.
  • You will be able to complete these answers over a period of 3-4 weeks, they will need to be electronically returned to ABE via your centre or, if your centre is unable to submit papers to ABE, you can submit your assessment to us directly.
  • All open-book exams will be marked independently in the UK.

Is an ABE open-book exam as robust as an ABE timed exam?

During the Covid-19 outbreak, some exam boards and many UK universities have opted for open-book exams as their method of assessment including such respected institutions as the University of Oxford, Cambridge University, University of Warwick, Imperial College London, The University of Edinburgh, and ABE.

An open-book exam is a method of assessment that tests the same learning outcomes and assessment criteria as a timed (‘closed-book’) exam. A timed exam relies on memory recall skills and would not expect you to reference or give in-depth answers. 

An open-book exam is NOT simply a timed exam which is sat at home with access to textbooks and the internet, as that would not be robust or valid. 

An open-book exam carries the expectation that you will give more detailed answers, due to the fact that you have more time and access to textbooks and research.

ABE open-book exams test knowledge as well as skills in application, analysis and evaluation and the ability to research. Answers will need to be detailed and reflective of the syllabus and study materials and will need to be fully referenced. 

Open-book exam format

The word count for these open-book exams will be between 2,000 and 3,500 on average depending on the level, the higher the level the higher the word count.

Usually, you will be expected to give a business context and then answer a series of questions, which will need to be answered in detail and in relation to the chosen context.

As there is an expectation of more detail and clear referencing, you are allowed 4 weeks to research and complete these open-book exams. This is a challenge and really tests ability to extract relevant knowledge and organise it in such a way that it addresses the question and is representative of the level and unit content.

See  'A Guide to studying and completing ABE Open-Book Exams' at the top of this page or from the library part of the portal. 

Regulators recognise this approach

Open-book exams are common practice in subjects such as law and UK regulators welcome this method of assessment and view it as valid and highly reliable, this is not a new assessment method it has been used for decades. ABE is choosing to use it for this session only to ensure learner journeys remain un-interrupted, the quality and standards will not be compromised, and all open-book exam responses will be scrutinised for plagiarism and collusion in the usual way.

The UK exams regulator (OFQUAL) feels it is important that we allow you to continue with your learning journey during the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK government has confirmed that it expects exam boards to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress.

We agree with this direction and will ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment or starting university.

At ABE, we strongly believe that when countries emerge from this pandemic, we will need competent business managers and entrepreneurs to rebuild economies.  The open-book exam method allows for that to happen and assures employers and university progression partners that the assessments taken, and the qualifications achieved, are accurate and reliable.

How will I study for an open-book exam?

Every assessment in any form is designed to ensure you have met the unit’s learning outcomes so preparation should be exactly as it would be for any other assessment.  Along with participating and engaging with the learning your centre provides, you should:

  • Study the syllabus for each unit
  • Read the ABE study guides
  • Make sure you understand all the learning outcomes (detailed in the qualification specification)
  • Do wider research to understand how your studies relate to the real world

Home study suggestions include reading business news, listening to podcasts, watching videos (such as TedTalks on YouTube), looking at blogs on the ABE website and using any opportunity available to consider business-related subjects in a real-world environment.

When should I book my assessments?

Secure your assessment as early as possible.  

Should I continue to work with my centre?

Your tutors provide an essential and valuable part of your learning experience. You are far more likely to succeed in your exams if you participate in lectures and tutorials or take advantage of the alternative support or remote teaching that your college is putting in place.

My centre is closed how can I book assessments?

Direct booking forms have been emailed, if you have not received them please email us.  

Arranging transactions via your bank

Arranging a transaction via your bank is usually straightforward but some countries, such as Sri Lanka and Mauritius, have foreign exchange restrictions.  Please check with your bank and, if this is the case, ask them to apply a 72-hour authorisation hold to enable us to process the transaction.  For people in countries, excluding Sri Lanka and Malawi, there is also the option of paying via WU GlobalPay

What if my college reopens or is not locked down?

ABE exams will remain open-book for this session, even in those countries where there are no longer restrictions on gatherings. If your college is not closed, and you can travel freely, you should attend college as much as possible if it is safe and possible to do so. Your tutors will help you prepare for your exam.

I don’t have access to Microsoft programmes can I still take an assessment?

Ideally, we would like your assignments and open-book exams emailed to us as Word or PDF documents. However, for this session only, we will accept email scans of neat handwritten assignments and open-book exams.  If you are providing handwritten assessments, please ensure they are clear and legible, as we cannot accept them if they cannot be read. 

Are ABE assignments still running?

The assessment of assignment units is unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and assignment briefs are available in the portal now.  

This would normally be done via centres and most centres will still administer this process, however, we will provide details to enable direct submission to ABE for anyone whose centre is not operational.  As with open-book exams, if you cannot supply as Microsoft Word or PDF documents we will accept legible handwritten scans on this occasion.

 Is ABE still able to offer normal service?

The UK government has deemed ABE staff to be ‘key workers’ which means we are able to ensure a continuity of service.

For all open book deadlines please click here to see our assessment page: