We had an exam and got the results 2 weeks later but I got slightly less points than I expected and we could not check the corrections yet. I was a bit impatient and wanted to see where I could have got it wrong, so I asked one of my classmates, who got maximum points, to send me what answers he got so I can compare them. I want to point it out again, it was clearly 2 weeks after the exam, so I did not have any unethical advantage from it. But still, I am a bit afraid that we did something "illegal".

Is this action considered to be academic misconduct, or since it was after the exam, students are allowed to share their answers with each other?

  • 11
    This may depend on the rules of the individual university, and it would be helpful to specify at least the country where you are. However, at least in my experience, sharing the exam papers between students and compare them is quite common. I can hardly imagine a university ruling against it. Nov 28, 2020 at 13:25
  • 2
    What would be, in your opinion, the purpose of such a rule? I'd find it a pretty strange rule and I would hope that if somebody would invent such a strange rule dor their exam, they'd tell the students (and provide a reasoning). So I'd guess that if you have not been made aware of that rule, it does not exist..
    – user111388
    Nov 28, 2020 at 14:08
  • 1
    Assuming the instructor has not released the exam back to students yet, then I can imagine that it might be against the rules for students to maintain a copy of the test questions and related materials. That's halfway common for in-person exams, and therefore fairly likely that syllabus language is maintained that effectively holds distance exams to the same standard. Nov 28, 2020 at 15:18
  • 1
    The interesting question is: what will you do if you find that your friend with perfect marks has answered two questions in the wrong way, i.e. the marker made a mistake to your friend's advantage? The question is not hypothetical. Nov 28, 2020 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


Certainly it wasn't illegal in the technical sense and it is very unlikely, though not impossible, that some local rule would prohibit it. In fact, it ought to be entirely permissible for one student to aid the learning of another in this manner.

Even working together on "possible" exam questions before the exam should be permitted, even encouraged, IMO.

The point of it all is learning, not grading. There shouldn't be secret information.

On the other hand, there are some things that are best learned through struggle and not by reading answers. On a math test, for example, seeing the answer is very different from generating it. As a learner, you want to strive, as much as possible for insight, especially in those subjects that you are most interested in. That insight comes from hard work.


There's absolutely no reason this would be "illegal". The whole point is to learn isn't it? The test was over. You are supposed to learn how to solve the problem properly afterwards to learn from your mistakes. How can you learn if you can't see what your mistakes were?


For rules, only your university can answer that question. But if you are asking about ethics, it is surely ethically permissible to discuss anything with someone if doing so can no longer possibly affect any grading under normal circumstances, and you both commit to abiding by this principle. That is, there should not be any further component to the exam in question (e.g. oral defense), and you both commit to not discuss the exam question or anything at all to do with that course with anyone else unless they commit to the same principle stated above.

Why do I say this? Suppose you have two friends A,B. A has taken the exam and got full marks. B has not taken the exam yet, for whatever reason. You have taken the exam, but got one question wrong and do not know why. However, you have studied together with B, and so it is possible that you may be able to guess whether B would answer the question correctly or not, after your discussion with A. For example, perhaps after discussing with A you realize that you used some theorem wrongly because you had the theorem written down wrongly in your notes that you copied from B. You would now be in a sticky situation. Do you tell B that the theorem there is an error in that theorem you copied? Do you want to be in such a situation? That is why the second part of the above-stated principle is important.

Ultimately though, since you only asked about rules, you have to ask your course instructor for that.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .