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I had an exam this morning. Last week the teacher had warned us that her exams are tough; this scared me. I wanted to see what her exams were like, so to study I searched through the exam repository at my school for an old midterm. Unfortunately, the exam repository only has final exams (including this course). Then I googled "(course code) (school name) midterm", and a couple of links came up. One was an online repository (not associated with my school) where people can upload old exams. I found a lot of old midterms for this course. These midterms were all in the same format but the exact questions were different in most cases. These midterms also had the answer key. I studied them to get an idea of how much the professor expected of us and to help resolve my confusion about some concepts. The practice midterms REALLY helped clarify things for me.

Last night, a student in the class posted a past midterm in a student-run Facebook group for the class. This exam did not have the official answers on it, but it did have the ones given by the student who took the test that year. After taking the test today, I noticed that some of the questions on this midterm were identical to the ones I studied online. It dawned on me that I may have committed an academic offense.

I am wondering, is studying past exams given in the course cheating? What if those exams are found in an non-school-sponsored repository online?

marked as duplicate by Ric, Jeff, RoboKaren, Buzz, Cape Code Oct 28 '16 at 4:38

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    No, I do not think you were cheating by looking at the past exams before the actual exam. However, your question looks awful - wall of texts. Would you please take some efforts to edit it to make it more readable? – scaaahu Oct 27 '16 at 3:38
  • I apologize, new here and was sort of in a panic. – aspire94 Oct 27 '16 at 4:00
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    No worries -- welcome to Academia SE :) I tried to clean up your question, since I think it's a good one that a lot of students face... if I misconstrued anything, feel free to edit! – tonysdg Oct 27 '16 at 4:02
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    Might be country dependent, but in Germany it's standard practice. Typically some student organization collects all exams and lets people copy them. – CodesInChaos Oct 27 '16 at 10:13
  • I'm in Canada... also seems like common practice here. Students always share them on the Facebook groups for the classes. I'm just worried I saw one that I wasn't suppose to have seen as it had the professor's answers on it. – aspire94 Oct 27 '16 at 14:33
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This is from the Texas A&M Honor System:

20.1.2.3.6 Complicity: Intentionally or knowingly helping, or attempting to help, another to commit an act of academic dishonesty. Examples: ...

b. Distributing test questions or substantive information about the test without the instructor’s permission.

If you were here at Texas A&M, then this is considered an act of academic dishonesty (in my interpretation), as this was uploaded to the repository, perhaps without the knowledge of the instructor (as is usually the case). If, on the other hand, the instructor had provided old exams or released sample tests, then this is okay. I personally follow this, as I only trust information from the instructor.

However, I would say this was a lucky search on your end. Unless your campus has a clause on academic conduct and the distribution of past tests, you're okay.

This answer was based on a misinterpretation of the question and is therefore not a valid one. The original text is still available.

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    In the question, I did not find anywhere the OP stated that he distributed test questions. Why do you say "If you were here, then this is considered an act of academic dishonesty"? We don't even know what course the OP is taking, how did he distribute the test questions? – scaaahu Oct 27 '16 at 3:53
  • He had access to past questions (that likely the instructor did not authorize release) and is, in my interpretation of this rule, a dishonest act under the Aggie Honor Code. I use "here" as a placeholder for "Texas A&M University." – Sean Roberson Oct 27 '16 at 3:56
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    The OP may have downloaded the test questions, but he did not upload any question. – scaaahu Oct 27 '16 at 3:58
  • Okay, I see now. This may then be categorized under "other similar offenses" in these rules, I suppose. I must have added extra information in my mind by accident. – Sean Roberson Oct 27 '16 at 4:02
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    I have not distributed any tests. I did download old tests without permission from the instructor. I cannot find anything in my school's academic integrity policy that explicitly states the policy behind studying from past exams. In fact, it's a tactic that every student I know uses. The only difference is that the midterms I looked at were the answer ones that must have been made available to students to check their answers after the exam. – aspire94 Oct 27 '16 at 4:04

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