Is it considered cheating if a friend gave you an old teachers test to study?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by raredomainsuad, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. raredomainsuad

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    My friend took a class last semester with the same teacher I'm taking right now. When he took the class the teacher gave the tests and answers back to the students (my friend) "willingly". My friend then gave me those tests to study for my upcoming exam which I took today. I studied the test thinking it was going to be a different test then the one my friend had. (Because the teacher said a week before our exam that shes going to write a new exam and writing our exam was going to be pretty time consuming for her.) After all, one would presume that a teacher will change an exam after giving it back to her old students with an answer sheet. I went to take the test and the test was the exact same test the teacher gave last semester. I know I got a 100 on it because I literally studied those questions for hours. My friend said that no one has ever received 100% on her exams. Even the smartest person has received 3 wrongs. All the questions and choices were the same on the exam. (It was multiple choice.) Is it considered cheating if it was her fault for not making a new exam? After all she did give the tests back to her old students with an answer sheet. (Her tests became public knowledge at that time.)
     
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  3. caffeine is my drug

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    Ha. Still an unfair advantage over your peers. That's cheating. Not the best move for a premed.


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  4. Spinach Dip

    Spinach Dip Delicious with nachos

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    Some teachers and/or classes allow this.

    However, if not explicitly stated, NO, it's not ok.
     
  5. raredomainsuad

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    I was just studying her old test. She also posted her old 2013 exam for us to study! She with her own mouth said she was going to write an exam. (At that point I knew and/or presumed I knew that the exam was going to be different than the one my friend took last semester.) She didn't bother to do so and gave the same exam she gave last semester. Its kinda like the stock market, if the information was obtained without insider knowledge its perfectly legal to use that information in any way you choice to. In this case, she made her tests public knowledge by returning her tests back to her students.
     
    #4 raredomainsuad, Mar 24, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  6. raredomainsuad

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    I'm not in trouble or anything at this time; since I just took the exam 3 hours ago. But if I were to be confronted... What would be the best move?
     
  7. Cinclus

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    You mean if the prof asks you how you got a 100%? You say, "Because I knew all the answers" and/or "I made a few lucky guesses." You shouldn't volunteer anything else.
     
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  8. Spector1

    Spector1 Orbis non Sufficit

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    technically its public info so it shouldnt count as cheating, doesnt mean the prof won't try to screw you over if they find out
     
  9. Cinclus

    Cinclus Es un pájaro.
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    Pretty much this. Don't volunteer anything. Prof would likely be angered.
     
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  10. raredomainsuad

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Much appreciated!
     
  11. Law2Doc

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    The problem is it ISN'T public info. Only a few people presumably have this advantage, not the public at large. If a professor wants to reuse questions IMHO it's up to him to make sure everybody or nobody has access to those old tests. It's not technically cheating but it is absolutely an unfair advantage and so some people will label it as such. I expect someone in the class will get wind of others having seen some of the questions and raise holy hell -- that's what I saw happen when the same issue came up in one of my classes.

    Back in the day people used to rush fraternities in part because they maintained testing banks of old tests for each professor. These days with the Internet those get disseminated so far and fast it's hardly worth the bother. And most of the time this forces professors to change things up regularly. That's not really on you. But you can believe people will get upset when some people get better grades than others who worked just as hard, because they've already seen the test.
     
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  12. raredomainsuad

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    I understand what you're trying to say but what's done here is done! It wasn't intentional. I had no clue I was going to get the same test. I figured there would be similar/relative questions on last semester's test so I put in more time studying the logic of the questions. I guess time paid off because I remembered 90% of the answers just by reading the choices (A,B,C,D,E) and about 10% I knew from the readings. I for one don't feel guilty for what I did because the teacher clearly stated she was going to write a test over the week... Using a previous test ISN'T writing a test. If by any chance I do get called on this I think my story will back everything up. After all, I do have copies of last semesters mid-term to back my story. I highly doubt the dean will categorize me as a cheater if she does take action.
     
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  13. KungFuPanda123

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    Obviously deny anything and everything that the professor might say you were doing. It's not worth a mark on your transcript for something that in your opinion, was an honest mistake.

    That being said, did you not think to at least purposely answer a few questions wrong? Like, how clueless do you have to be to answer every single question correct if you actually had access to the same exact test to study from? Obviously, eyebrows will be raised on a test that you score a 100% on unless you scored A+'s on your previous tests.
     
    #12 KungFuPanda123, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
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  14. ChiDO

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    Take your A, keep your mouth shut, and don't expect the next test to be the same as the old one. I doubt the teacher nor anyone else will be suspicious of your 100%.
     
  15. Law2Doc

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    Don't be surprised if someone gets wind and the professor is forced to throw out the test results and put more weight on the others.
     
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  17. osckey

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    Always follow this rule of thumb: if you have to ask if it's cheating or not then it's probably NOT worth getting involved with. I saw friends get taken out for innocently accepting "study materials" from other people.

    NOT. WORTH.
     
    #15 osckey, Mar 25, 2016
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  18. Cookie04

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    I did this all the time in undergrad. It wasn't considered cheating, if the professors didn't want it to happen they either changed the tests or didn't give them back. Some of my professors even knew I had the old tests and they didn't care. It's very interesting to hear that this is considered an issue at other schools. Is it an advantage over your peers? Yes. Unfair? Ehhh maybe, however it's not my fault that other people aren't as resourceful. To be fair though I didn't always have old tests. I also studied my butt off for every exam (test or no test) and went to my professors office hours at least once or twice per week. Pulled off a 4.0 too.
     
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  19. mordac21

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    Personally, I never had a problem with this at my undergraduate institution. In fact, one of my professors actually encouraged us to go to the test bank maintained by the chemistry fraternity because he thought that was the best way to study.

    But as others have said, just keep your mouth shut. No need to stir things up.
     
  20. danib2k15

    danib2k15 ACCEPTED WOOOOOO

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    I was a teaching assistant for a class in which the professor explicitly stated you should not be asking or using old tests from peers. We wrote new tests every year but we did often re-use exam questions from previous years. Did your professor ever explicitly say or state in the syllabus that you cannot do this?


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
     
  21. ChrisMack390

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    If you were smart you would have gotten 1-3 wrong on purpose.
     
  22. oOKawaiiOo

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    Sometimes we [the ones without the 4.0 GPA] would like the taste of a 100%.
     
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  23. Hospitalized

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    No one has ever received 100% on any of her tests? I find that hard to believe.
     
  24. JustAPhD

    JustAPhD Not a hummingbird expert

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    Honestly I think the prof is pretty naive to use the same exact exam knowing there are copies of it out there in the previous class population.
     
  25. XxThaDoggxX

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    Deny deny deny, don't even tell your best friends (probably too late) and just don't do it again. I have heard stories of this taking a turn south rather quickly if the prof finds out...an honor code violation, whether warranted or not, would crush you.
     
  26. oOKawaiiOo

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    Professor probably doesn't care. Doesn't get paid more to fail students.
     
  27. TBV

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    Lie and deny at this point but yes this could be viewed as cheating whether or not you see it. This isn't the stock market
     
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  28. Verity

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    According to our university, yes it is considered a violation of our academic integrity policy.

    You would need to look into the academic integrity policy/the equivalent of your university. Ours explicitly states that obtaining a copy of the test prior to the test date, in which this scenario may qualify as you said it was verbatim, is in violation of the policy. Our academic integrity/honor policy also states that a violation is sharing past quizzes and test solutions that were not directly distributed by the professor, which definitely qualifies in your situation. Sanctions vary from redoing the test, to receiving a failing grade, to dismissal from major, to expulsion... again, all outlined in our policy.

    For sake of self preservation, I'd avoid doing/saying anything about it. Obviously, do not borrow anyone's old tests again - not worth it in the long run. Again, all of this is contingent upon the academic policy of your university.
     
  29. DokterMom

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    Wow - You're really in a tough position. You clearly did not intend to cheat, and yet, the end result was exactly as if you had intended to. But the consequences of coming forward could be really, really terrible; and it's not inconceivable that those consequences could be applied to you unjustly. At the same time though, if someone else does come forward, or even if the instructor puts 2 + 2 together and realizes some students (including you) likely used the old test to study from but did not come forward -- then you'd potentially be in even more trouble.

    Can you find your university's policy on studying from old tests? QUICKLY. It's widely done, but if your Uni has a policy against it, you could be in academic integrity trouble just for doing that.

    Same for this prof. It sounds like she does not have a problem with it if she posted a 2013 exam.

    Honestly - I think your best move -- assuming your uni does not have an explicit policy against studying from old exams -- is probably to come forward now and explain the situation. Offer/ask to take a revised exam. That at least demonstrates that you had no bad intent and that you value your integrity.
     
  30. ChiDO

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    Um no. This is probably the worst advice I have seen.

    As I said before, ignore it and move on. No one probably even gives a **** except your neurotic self (and posting this on SDN is making it 100x worse...lol)
     
  31. Aggie95

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    If the entire test was multiple choice, then there's really no way for the professor to prove you had access to the test beforehand. The only way you could get caught is if there were free response questions that you answered identically to the answer key in every way.
     
  32. redferrari

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    This was actually quite common at my undergrad. My guess is that the professor has tenure, and likely doesn't give a hoot as long as nobody goes on parading about it (aka talking about it on a forum that a few billion people could theoretically see quite easily).
     
  33. cardzkp

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    I actually asked a professor about this after me and my friends had a huge debate. He said it's not cheating.. you are using the resources around you like a smart individual would. If the professor is too lazy to change the questions on the test OR simply recollect them, that's their fault. It's not brain surgery :rofl:
     
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  34. GrapesofRath

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    It is interesting how SDN can skew the perspective of the advice you get. ChiDO said it best, really this just highlights the neuroticism of how things often can be on here.

    There really is no "Tough Spot" here at all. A professor gives back exams voluntarily. S/he has no problem with students using them as s/he voluntarily posts them. The worst case scenario is the prof not reusing questions in the future or perhaps not posting previous exams for practice. Assuming anything more just highlights what I said above about SDN.
     
    #32 GrapesofRath, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
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  35. Pagan FutureDoc

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    This is 100% school and professor dependent. If there is a stated policy against this anywhere then this is cheating.

    However some schools it's encouraged. At my UG you could get 10 years worth of back exams in every class in my major in the student lounge.

    It's really quite interesting to see how different professors make tests over the same material.
     
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  36. DokterMom

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    Personally, I don't view studying from past exams to be cheating. It is, as @cardzkp says, using available resources intelligently.

    However, I do view it as less-than-honorable for the OP to say nothing given that s/he studied off the exact same exam, knows it, and scored 100% on that particular exam because of that particular reason. There was nothing in his/her pre-exam conduct that was wrong or even questionable -- assuming Uni and Prof have no policies against studying from old exams. It's only what s/he does now that is at issue.

    Clearly, the Prof was at fault -- either lazy or careless. And there is little doubt in my mind that the Prof will realize her mistake very quickly when she sees the abundance of 100%s on the exam, the familiarity of the questions while grading, or the re-written exam sitting unused where she left it.

    I see this situation being like one where someone dropped a $20 and you find it. You know darned well who dropped it. S/he knows darned well they dropped it and has a pretty good idea you found it. Can they prove it? No. But you know. They know. Who do you want to be?
     
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  37. piii

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    You clearly didn't intend to cheat, but it was naive of you to even put yourself in this position. You honestly didn't question whether you should look at a test that was given the day before for the same class? I mean, if your professor said explicitly that you can use that exam to study then there is no doubt as to what you can do. But clearly she didn't intend for that because it is unfair to the students who have to take the first exam, which means you are knowingly studying with material that 50% of the students didn't have, giving you an unfair advantage. If there was any doubt about using this exam to study, then you knowingly put yourself in a detrimental position especially given the acceptance you hold and that is just silly and not worth acing an exam for. If you were truly and utterly unaware and without a doubt certain you should have used the exam, then you are just naive.
     
  38. Goro

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    This says that the exam information being compromised was 100% on the teacher and not on the students, so no, I don't consider it cheating.


     
  39. efle

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    I've had several professors explicitly state that returning tests does NOT imply permission to share answers with the next year of students (obviously it still happens, a lot. I've been in this exact situation being offered a prior test the teacher didn't provide). My guess is that it was supposed to be assumed off-limits because it was not provided to the full class like the other practice exam was.

    Some bizarre logic in this thread saying it's the professors fault. Consider schools with take-home exams that are expected to be done independently, within a time limit and/or with only your notes. The ability for students to cheat here is far greater even than a case of returning prior exams, yet it is clearly the students' fault if they compare answers or use the internet. You can call the professors stupid or lazy or naive, but not responsible for the cheating. Alternatively the idea that not explicitly forbidden = allowed is bogus. If a teacher gives you an answer key to look over after test return and fails to say "no cell phone pictures" it does not mean it's alright for someone to take them. When you were offered the test you should've thought hmm, this seems like an advantage the other students wouldn't have because the prof isn't providing this to us, and either said no or sent a quick email to ask about it.

    From the point of view of fairness to other students, what happened clearly DID violate the integrity of the exam for whoever had insider access like you. The prof is naive/lazy/stupid, and accepting access to that test was wrong, and these are two different things.

    /rant
     
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  40. GrapesofRath

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    I will never for the life of me understand why a professor would give an exam back if they are planning on using significant portions of it in later years. I had many many many professors in college who wouldnt give back the exams but would let you see them via office hrs/appointment. Both multiple choice and entirely short answer. Cant understand for the life of me why anybody would do otherwise. Such an incredibly simple solution at so many levels, regardless of what debate anybody wants to have about "what's best for the integrity of the exam" "what's the right thing to do" or "what should be assumed isnt proper" etc.
     
  41. efle

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    And I don't understand how any professor thinks take home exams are legitimate, but there are many schools with lots of that going on. Fact is even with professors trying reasonably hard to block cheating it's often very easy to do (plagiarism in term papers, keep phone on yourself in biochem, go look stuff up in the bathroom etc). But by no means do I think cheating being very easy means it should be dismissed/forgiven
     
  42. Benjoe11

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    I don't think this is cheating if you were looking for just looking for more study material. Profs use old tests as practice tests all the time. Plus, what if you had gone to the internet to look for more questions and the teacher just happened to use some of those (which professors do) ?? Is that cheating? Or you did extra book problems, and the professor pulled test questions from the book (also happens all the time)? You weren't acting dishonestly imo.
     
  43. efle

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    Do you need to know the right person to find these things, or is it similarly accessible to anyone with the book? That's the key difference, imo. This wasn't just "OP got lucky with their extra study effort"
     
  44. Lawper

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    What about accessing old tests posted on the internet? Is it an insider access because (as an example) only few visit the website regularly, despite being in public domain?
     
  45. efle

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    Whatever the teacher has posted that everyone can access if they choose to is fine. Unless you mean something like OP's friend, instead of just giving them the test, uploaded it to a random website?
     
  46. Lawper

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    Say someone took the class a year ago and posted the exam w/ answer key on a random website that is publicly accessible but not many people visit there. A small group of students including OP visit the website for this year's class and accessed the exam. Is it insider access?

    If so, would it still be insider access if the entire class knows of the website but not the professor?
     
  47. piii

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    That's what I'm saying, preach!
     
  48. GrapesofRath

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    I brought it up because when I was in college I was on my school's academic committee(mix of UGs, professors, deans, grad students etc). One thing we got to see was if professors were meeting up to their academic standards and we got to see what types of things would be considered acceptable and unacceptable and what might trigger some kind of response if a professor wasnt doing something right with their class. The most common thing was definitely grade distributions for certain depts, ie X professor was failing too many kids etc. Often theyd get a warning but many kept doing it and would get put on academic probation. Of course there were a number of cases that just went straight to academic probation with no warning for that profesor(note me and UGs didnt get to vote on the warning/penalty we just got to see these cases).

    Anyway, I never saw a case like this, but my best estimate is from my 5 semesters serving(and again it's an estimate I wasnt exactly at the top of the food chain when I was on it) and seeing tons of these cases if a report was brought that a professor had been seen giving back exams to students then using those same exact exams repeatedly year after year, I think there's a real chance they'd get put on academic probation straight away without warning and not be able to teach for at a semester or two. That's the level of incompetence we're talking about. The professor just comes across so poorly and there'd definitly be people who vote for that committee who'd say "get this guy suspended from teaching for a semester".
     
    #46 GrapesofRath, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  49. Benjoe11

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    Except that's pretty much what it was. The person from the prior class didn't say "Make sure you study this test for four hours because it's going to be the exact same!" They had no way of knowing that it would be. And if it wasn't this wouldn't even be a question of cheating. If the OP forwarded the test to the rest of the class is it suddenly not cheating??
     
  50. gonnif

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    A few thoughts here, much that are comments on previous replies

    1) Unless there is an issue raised by the professor, you have no issue except for neurosis that you are giving yourself
    2) The professor handed out his old exams previously and therefore should have no expectation of the questions remain confidential for future use
    3) This is not cheating as no intention of you do to so can be shown
    4) This is not an unfair advantage as every student in the class had equal opportunity to find student from year before to get old exam
    (btw this was common in my original UG days as well as postbacc just a decade or so ago. Indeed the prof made old exams available and most students never bothered).
    5) Unless the professor made a statement in class or on syllabus that students should not share old exam or current students seek them out, there can be no violation of any "honor" code. For example, the MCAT specifically forbids even discussing specific questions with anyone and you sign to that affect.
    6) If the professor asks how you did so well, then you must explain what happened. To do otherwise, would be to violate honor code at most schools
     
    GrapesofRath and Benjoe11 like this.
  51. efle

    efle not an elf
    Classifieds Approved

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    Yes that's insider. You'd never find it unless someone directed your attention to it. Completely different than doing extra textbook problems or googling topics, and thus being familiar with what the prof uses.

    Good on your school for caring, this should be standard

    Absolutely correct. If everyone gets a perfect score the idiot prof now gets to deal with the problem. No students punished for not being in-the-know
     
  52. Takamori

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    The higher your moral standards, the more difficult is your life.
     

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