Tackling Exams In VIT-AP: A New Format Of Exam


Have you faced this situation during exams where you remember the page in the book where the formula is written but can’t recall the actual formula? Have you ever wondered, “if only I had my notebook my paper would have been so much easier”?

I’m a student of VIT-AP enrolled for B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering (With specialization in Embedded Systems). New to the league of competitive institutions, it has a lot of eccentricities in its bag and procedure of conducting exams is one of them. From conducting open-notebook exams to using digital pads, VIT-AP is revolutionizing the system of exams.


CAT (Cumulative Assessment Test)

Instead of conducting semester exams which are run of the mill procedure of most universities, VIT-AP conducts CAT(Cumulative Assesment Test). In each semester we have three CATs. Most questions are of HOTS-Higher Order Thinking Skill type, which evaluates the student, not on the basis of how much he or she remembers or rather can recollect but on the basis of how much they have understood the particular topic. The questions are application based which make students ready for industry-related problems.


The most peculiar part is what we call open notebook exams. Students are allowed to carry hand-written notes to exam halls with them. This is quite a practical outlook. The idea behind this “why mug up something which is easily accessible?”. Our brain can hold a limited amount of information and what is the point of mugging of theories, formulas, mechanisms, then vomiting them all out on the answer sheet and later forgetting them. No matter how much we prepare, but even the best of us often tend to forget certain formulas or answers during exams. Trying to remain true to the spirit of exams which actually is testing the calibre of students, VIT-AP has the concept of open notebook exams.


We live in a world where digitisation is at its peak. As an initiative of “go green” the notion of pen and paper exam is scrapped. Students write their exams on digital pads using a stylus which is almost like a pen. They get an option of choosing the type of sheet they want to write upon(blank, ruled, graph), the width of the nip of the pen, colour, shapes etc. There is an option of copy-paste, cut-paste, a fluorescent marker is there to highlight important points and various other features which reduces the hassle of writing using pen and paper.

Students are given a practice test of 15 minutes before the commencement of any exam. During this time students can get acquainted with the device, calibrate the stylus and practice to write and work with various tools.


Each paper is of 50 marks. The duration is 1 hour 30 minutes. There is no particular format of the question paper. Marks of a particular question can range from 5-20. After the end of each semester, students are given grades based on his performance in the 3 CATs, assignments and lab exams. The grades are relative to topper’s scores. The cut-off marks to be eligible for grading is 60/150 in CATs.


Syllabus and list of textbooks and reference books are provided by the college at the beginning of a semester. Subject teaches also supply with pdfs of those books and the ppts they prepare for the class. For open-notebook exams, the most vital thing is indubitably prepping of notes.

Tips on making good-notes

  • Make sure to use good quality notebooks which will stand the test of time.
  • Don’t just copy down paragraphs from the books. Read the paragraph, understand it and jot down the important points in your own words.
  • For thorough notes read at least two books.
  • Have a separate part of the notebook to write formulas so that you don’t have to go through tons of pages looking for a particular one. Back pages of the notebook are most suitable for this purpose.
  • Use different colour pens to make the notebook more comprehensible. For example, you can use purple for headings, red for formulas, green for important points, black for questions etc.

Keep updating your notes every week. Have each day of a week reserved to make notes on one subject. For example, Tuesday can be for Digital logic design, Wednesday for Data Structures and Algorithms and so on. This will help you save time for other assignments and co-curricular activities.

Practice as many numerical questions as possible. This gives you an edge in tackling the HOTS questions. Keep revising the notes from time to time.


  • Do not keep prepping of notes to last minute. Completion of notes will be difficult and will not be thorough. The day before the exam should keep for revision of important points, formulas, questions.
  • Do not take someone else’s notes to the exam. Everyone has their own modus operandi of writing notes with which you might not be comfortable with.
  • Since the questions are tricky, read it at least twice which will help you to understand the question better. Do not get stuck on a single question. Move ahead, solve the rest and then come back to that question
  • It is suggested not to leave the answer to any question blank. At the same time, it does not mean to copy down the values given in the question which will fetch you no marks. If you can think of relevant laws or formulas relating to the question write that down. You might get some marks if it is correct.
  • Get enough sleep the night before the exam. Be calm during it. Students with a peaceful mindset tend to score higher.