I recently faced a problem that is, I took a course at my university last year and got some grade for it, so for further improving it I gave the course this year again.

The course is purely evaluated based on oral exams on the take-home assignments that are handed out.

Coming back to the problem, I registered for the same course this year at my university, and apparently, the set of take-home exams are the same as the last year. Since, I know most of the correct answers, I just corrected the ones I made mistake on last year and submitted the improved set of the report this year.

However, it seems that the course instructor is not so happy about it (and does not want to evaluate me) as I just re-did the same assignments by improving the previous one.

Having said these, what I see as the problem is that in the course information they have not said anything that whoever is repeating the course should inform the teacher to get new sets. Also, I registered for the course with a new registration and not a mere re-sit. Since they have given the assignments the same, I don't agree with them saying that they are not happy with the report that I handed in.

So for avoiding the conflict of interest, however, I withdrew from the exams, also, I know that in an ethical background that is the right thing to do (technically I did not do anything wrong).

Could you advise me who is right and wrong here and also please do advise me on the technical base, who is on the wrong side and what could I have done (I know that ethically this is wrong).

  • Where is your university located? Different countries (and even universities) have different laws regarding this sort of thing.
    – deckeresq
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:20
  • @deckeresq Added Europe tag. Thanks for pointing out. Jun 30 '17 at 16:46
  • Thanks for all the answers, atleast it was a bit mind relieving :) Jun 30 '17 at 17:55

If a student is allowed to register for a class as a "new registration" as opposed to a resit and the student attends the class and does the work, the student deserves to be given a fair evaluation. While reusing assignments and examination materials is not optimal, it happens. Not wanting to (re-)evaluate a student on reused assignments seems reasonable. I would expect the instructor and department chair (or teaching chair) to work with you to resolve the issue. making you withdraw from the class seems to be an unreasonable solution.

  • "While reusing assignments and examination materials is not optimal, it happens." -- at many US institutions, this can actually be considered plagiarism and is grounds for failure/expulsion (i.e. self-plagiarism).
    – deckeresq
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:21
  • 2
    @deckeresq I meant professors sometimes reuse exams and homework assignments. Handing in the same work twice can be considered unethical.
    – StrongBad
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:31
  • Ah, yes, you are completely correct then. Thank you for the clarification. :)
    – deckeresq
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:32
  • I was not made to ''Forcefully'' withdraw, but conveyed the information in a smooth way, but I feel bad for my situation, as I strongly believe I could do it much better than last time, if told initially. Jun 30 '17 at 16:48
  • @StrongBad Just I was wondering, based on your answer, that you said its not optimal, though I do understand it, what the real concern is that lets say the questions are identical, and I know the (correct) answers of them (of course with proper motivation), then why isn't it optimal to go for the correct answers/ how can I go for a different answers, when I already know of the correct answers? (For now lets just assume that the self-plagiarism is not an issue in this regards) Jul 1 '17 at 3:43

It's on University side to properly prepare tests not yours. If they are lazy enough not to change questions every year it's their problem not yours. Some students could get the answers from previous years from they colleagues and also know the answers for all the questions.


It seems to me that this depends a lot on the type of course and the type of exams. If it's something like mathematics, there are right and wrong answers and it is up to the university to change the questions. If it's an essay where you have a great deal of freedom in picking the essay question, then I would expect you to pick a completely different question rather than submit the same essay with improvements based on the previous year's comments.

I'm not really sure what you mean by an oral exam on a take home assignment. If the assessment is genuinely an oral exam, then presumably you are showing greater understanding than you did previously and that will come out in the actual discussion.

Think about it this way - how would you feel if you were in a competitive situation (perhaps applying for a scholarship) rather than one attracting marks that could potentially all be the same, and your competitor had access to the same level of previous information as you had access to for the exam?

  • @JanB What I mean by oral exams on a take-home assignment is, in this course they give a set of assignments and asks us to perform it and we have to hand in the assignment set which they evaluate and grade us during an oral exam. Jul 1 '17 at 19:57
  • 2
    Is the mark based more on the handed in assignment, or on the discussion? Do all students have the benefit of getting comments back on their assignments before the oral part?
    – JenB
    Jul 2 '17 at 10:20
  • the grading is the discussion which entirely revolves around the report. In fact, nobody gets any comment on the report before the exams. (Sorry for typing your name wrongly in the previous comment) Jul 2 '17 at 11:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.