General Question

lrk's avatar

Why are college exams done in Blue Books?

Asked by lrk (757 points ) October 14th, 2009

For those of you not familiar, a Blue Book is, well, a blue book that many colleges & universities provide for written responses to exams.

My question: why not just use looseleaf paper and have a stapler at the front of the room? I can’t imagine that Blue Books are less wasteful or cheaper than just sheets of looseleaf…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

27 Answers

derekfnord's avatar

Whatever the original reason for blue books was, now it’s probably largely due to tradition…

ru2bz46's avatar

Uniformity.

warpling's avatar

It could be to have a standard size of paper, line height, amount of paper, etc. I used to think it was to prevent cheating until I realized you could really write and put whatever you want in one unless they’re being checked before hand.

lrk's avatar

@warpling, @ru2bz46, that could easily be accomplished by just giving each student the same looseleaf…

Also, maybe it’s different at my college—they give us the Blue Books at the start of the exam; we don’t bring our own.

Harp's avatar

I wonder if it isn’t to give the teacher an unalterable record of the student’s writing process. If loose leaf paper were used, students could start essays over if they were unsatisfied by their first try, or if they discovered spelling errors. They could, in effect, do a rough draft and recopy it onto other paper. But with the book, the teacher will see everything that ever went down on the paper, which could give more insight into the student’s thought process.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Harp Thanks for the reminder! I was given that explanation about 25 years ago by a teacher. GA!

RedPowerLady's avatar

The answer is that they are used to prevent cheating. @Harp has got it spot on.
How do I know? I asked while in college. :)

lrk's avatar

@RedPowerLady How does using a Blue Book to witness an entire thought process prevent cheating? If you make it a rule to “show your work,” then that would apply either on any type of paper; if it’s just an expectation, there’s no real way to assume that someone is going to draft an outline at all.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@irk If you read @Harp ‘s answer it explains why. It prevents people from writing a rough draft before hand and then using that as their answer. That is what I was told. The way this works is that a teacher will most often say okay cross out page 2 of the blue book. This prevents someone from turning in a pre-written draft say on loose leaf paper. In essence you could write out an answer before hand on loose leaf paper and then turn it in. See what I’m trying to say? I didn’t say it made a ton of sense but this is what the teachers are trying to prevent. I suppose it must be an issue or they wouldn’t go through all the trouble of trying to prevent it.

Sarcasm's avatar

This is an interesting question because just today I used a blue book for my exam. First time using one in my 2 years at a college.

Imagine 20 (or 30, or in my History class case, 40) students all handing in 4 sheets of looseleaf paper to you. That’s chaotic. Bluebooks keep them all well-bound.
Also it seems to have done something to deter cheating. My teacher had us swap bluebooks with a person in front/behind us, and also had us start our essay on the 3rd page, 10 lines down.

I really hated the size of the lines, though. I’ve used college rule since middle school. The lines were annoyingly large

lrk's avatar

@RedPowerLady, I still don’t understand—are we assuming an exam proctor wouldn’t notice someone taking a pre-written essay out of their bag if the exam were on looseleaf?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@irk Yes we are assuming that. I assume it is more useful in large classes. Like I said it doesn’t necessarily make too much sense. But apparently it was an issue at some point.

valdasta's avatar

I agree with @Sarcasm ; uniformity, nice and neat, and prevents cheating.

I can’t remember how much they cost, but there may be some money for the student book store to make?

When you hear “Bluebook”, it is intended to intimidate you. [Kidding]

A Bluebook exam is easier to explain to confused and frustrated college students than to pass out hundreds of loose leaf paper and expect them to have the brain power left to staple it. [Imagine the annoying noise of the click-click of the stapler as you are trying to wrap up an essay on “nature vs. nurture”.]

I was an English major (I know it doesn’t show), history minor…can I just say, “I do not want to see another Bluebook for as long as I live.”

RedPowerLady's avatar

@valdasta When I was in college 2001–2006 they were .15 so that’s not a lot of money but hey who knows there is probably some profit in it somehow.

ru2bz46's avatar

@RedPowerLady They were .15 in the late 80’s as well. At least some things seem safe from inflation. :-)

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ru2bz46 You got me cracking up. I bet they will be the longest lasting item.

Sarcasm's avatar

When I got one Wednesday, it was $0.40. Then again, California’s schools are super broke.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Sarcasm Dang they are ripping you off~

ru2bz46's avatar

Oops, I spoke too soon. I’m in California, so I guess the price did inflate here. Maybe @RedPowerLady can be our Oregon connection for importing cheap Blue Books to sell on the streets at a discount.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I just called to make sure, still .15 here in Oregon

Sarcasm's avatar

Sounds like that time Jerry and Newman got an extra mail truck in order to make some extra money from recycling in Michigan instead of New York.

lrk's avatar

Is my school unique in our professors providing us with Blue Books at the start of the exam (at no cost to the student, paid for by the school or the department)?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@irk Ya I think so. Did this happen only once or multiple times??

lrk's avatar

@RedPowerLady Every time, everywhere. I didn’t realize that it was common practice for students to buy their own Blue Books until reading this thread.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@irk Lucky you!! The real problem isn’t the cost. It’s when the prof. requires a blue book and you’ve forgotten. You have to spend the first 15 minutes of the test hunting one down.

ru2bz46's avatar

We always had to buy them, then the prof would trade his/hers for ours to do the exam, presumably to curtail cheating.

josie's avatar

Standardization of size, lines, page numbers etc. The only distinguishing characteristic, other than penmanship, is the ideas on the page.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther