I just did an exam where we could use anything (online exam). On the exam page it's written; authorized material : everything.

During the exam, i noticed a question was exactly the same as an other question of a past exam. So i almost identically took the same answer, but there was multiple answers possible.

Before the exam, the teacher gives us access to 2008 to 2020 exams with all the solutions to practice.

(the solutions of past exams are given to us, so i had the right to have em.)

Is it plagiarism ? It's the first time he's giving the class, did he also commit plagiarism ?

Am i in the wrong ? Or the fact that the teacher gives us those solutions he wouldn't care if an answer is the same ?

This is at university level, so it's kinda odd to me that he did this. If he was to report someone for plagiarism, i am not sure the dean would be really proud of him for doing this...

Thanks !

  • I suppose the devil is in the details. Using "anything" doesn't seem quite the same as "open book", which in turn isn't the same thing as, say, "open notes". Mar 4, 2022 at 14:07
  • @prets i mean it's written authorized marerial : everything. Also, what if i practiced this exam and when correcting my answer i wrote their answer. Then i look at my notes and i take the answer, i am not sure it's plagiarism idk..
    – dfggg
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:12
  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 4, 2022 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


This may be subject to explicit rules set by the instructor, of course, in which case, follow them.

But, given the situation you describe, I'd suggest that you just cite/reference anything you use from an old exam. This saves you from any charge of dishonesty.

But, you also suggest that there can be multiple correct answers to the questions. Unlike math where 42 might be a correct answer and 43 totally incorrect, in philosophy, say, some questions require interpretation and it might be important to introduce specific elements into an answer. In this case, you would be wise to supplement any old answer you draw on (with citation) with your own (hopefully correct) thoughts and interpretations. Use the old answer as a base, not as a complete answer.

  • for example the answer in practice exams was P = a->b \ {d} and in my exam i have an equivalent which was A = a->b \{f,g} but the a->b pattern could"ve been many other answers.. I am dumb to have taken this one, but i am not sure it can be called plagiarism, it's a way to solve the problem...
    – dfggg
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:38
  • @dfgg it looks like you think they are equivalent, however they are completely different ...
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:47
  • The interpretation is up to the instructor. But you can make a case that you used approved sources - perhaps. After the fact it becomes a local issue.
    – Buffy
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:47

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