University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Med students also had recycled exams

Pharma is not the only place students have been presented with old exam papers. Students of medicine have experienced it twice in the course of just six months. They feel unfairly treated

As the Danish site Universitetsavisen recently reported, students at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharma) were twice presented with exam questions they had gone through earlier that year, or that they had access to online.

It turns out Pharma is not alone. At the Faculty of Health Science there has been at least two examples of old exam questions being reused in exams, despite them already being available to the students. The exams in question were the 9th semester exam in February, and the 2nd semester exam in June.

Not even spelling mistakes were altered

In February, students of medicine took an exam where three out of the four questions were copied directly from old exam papers.

This exam was done without notes, but the old questions had been freely available online, and are used by most students prepping for the exam.

If the students had not already been able to recognise the exam question, a noticeable and amusing spelling mistake that was still included tickled their memory.

Unfair to the students

»You feel cheated as a student,« says Jannie Pedersen, who took the aforementioned exam.

»Because the people responsible can’t be bothered to make a decent exam, you don’t get to show what we have learnt. It only proves that you have read up on old exam questions. To put it bluntly, you can pass the exam without showing that you have a grip on medicine and surgery.«

Recycle in moderation

Head of the study board at the Faculty of Health, Jørgen Olsen, explains that the recycling of questions is because of new lead examiner starting, and that the new lead examiner did not receive as much help as they normally would, due to a recent reshuffling of staff.

»It isn’t unusual for exam questions to recur. It can help us judge what level the new students are at, in comparison to the previous years. That it was three out of four question is, however, definitely a mistake.«

Jørgen Olsen points out that the lead examiners for the 9th semester work as both doctors and tutors. This may add pressure to the job, leading to such a mistake.

Computers complicate things

Olsen had not been informed that there was also a mistake in the June exam, and had not heard about it until the University Post brings it up.

The exam was in ‘Medicinal Psychology’, and people can bring notes. Olsen explains that questions in that subject are about answering a given case in many different ways.

»Normally we reuse cases with a gap of a few years, but this time it has happened just a year after,« he says. »The answers are not freely available to students, but as we do our exams on PCs, students are sent their own answers after the exams. It has become easier to circulate the answers among the students.«

Can’t you just make new questions each year?

»Yes, but the case and the questions don’t mean so much. At the exam it’s about using certain theories for different cases. The problem is that students can bring the answers with them to the exam.«

No doubt that it is cheating

The students at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences that the Danish media Universitetsavisenspoke to in the previous cases, suggested that the mistakes were perhaps made on purpose, to boost funding by producing good results. According to Jens Helby, Head of the student organisation ‘Demokratiske Medicinere’, this is not the case at the Faculty of Health:

»The speculations at Pharma, on whether or not exams are purposefully made easier makes no sense here at Health. These exams aren’t difficult to pass – in 9th semester you are only tested on something you have been tested on before. But it is of course still unfair that students got through easier,« Jens Helby says.

»People can feel ill treated when they see that the people who are doing really well, are people who just happen to be well-rehearsed in old exam questions.«