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Take-Home Exam


A high stakes exam completed remotely ‘at home’.  Ordinarily students have a longer period of time (for example a few days up to a week) to submit their exam. They have unrestricted access to their learning materials/resources during this time. They may or may not be allowed to work/consult with others.

What can it assess ?

A take-home exam is best for testing the higher order skills of critical and creative thinking. The skills include problem definition, brainstorming, idea generation, visualisation, information literacy, research, academic writing, evaluation and synthesis.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Take-home exams have the potential to encourage students to engage in deep learning rather than surface learning 
  • The take-home exam can be a form of authentic assessment if it is designed to mirror a task that students will be presented within professional life
  • Take-home exams with an extended timeline allows students to write and review a number of drafts, to develop their editing skills and to learn the nature of writing well is re-writing. They can foster students’ skills development in reflection and self-assessment
  • An advantage of this type of exam is reduced student anxiety and greater student confidence 
  • Take-home exams can be more inclusive as they may require fewer “reasonable accommodations” than traditional time-limited exams


  • The key concern for take-home exams is academic misconduct, relating to both other people doing the work for the student and plagiarism.

Design and Online Assessment Considerations


Bengisson (2019) in reviewing the literature on take-home exams highlights a number of key design considerations. The exam should be designed to demand higher order thinking skills from the students and not rely on finding facts that can be found in books and other resources. The take-home exam should be designed in such a way that it clearly asks students to provide evidence/justification/references for all answers. Including a meta-reflection in the take-home exam, where students have to write about the rationale for their study strategy and references used and what their key new learning has been from doing this exam, is also recommended. Designing highly contextualised questions and getting students to submit the exam online are seen as important mechanisms to mitigate against cheating, in addition to introducing an honour code.  

Online Assessment 

Ensure students have advice on how to submit their exam online if appropriate. Tools and technologies to support this assessment type include: 

Preparing Students

It is important to clearly communicate and explain to students the assessment criteria, timescale, standard of work and referencing that is expected. The use of exemplars from previous years can be very helpful in this regard.  Use a rubric, or similar, to help  clarify expectations during the trimester.

Educate students on academic integrity, including what is meant by plagiarism. Make them aware of the UCD resources on these, such as UCD Plagiarism Policy-Student Guide, FAQ for Students on PlagiarismUCD Library guide on Academic Integrity.

Learn More 

The following are some key resources that are currently available if you would like to learn more about this key assessment type.