Asking for old papers is unethical and unfair

February 9, 2017 — by Neil Rao

Asking for previous years' tests are unethical.

“Can I borrow last year’s test, please?”

These are words that almost every SHS student has heard at least once.

In recent years, the school has seen several cases of academic misconduct as students begged each other for old tests, essays and labs to gain an advantage in an academically challenging setting.

When asked by friends to give them old tests, students have often struggled to maintain their morals, as they either have to awkwardly reject their friends’ pleas or break academic integrity by handing them over. While some may think that helping a friend out is OK, it is absolutely immoral and unfair to the entire student body.

One problem that arises with giving out old material is that some teachers do not completely change tests year after year. If students pass down their tests to others, the students currently taking the class will know the exact question or the type of question on the upcoming tests.

Some students may say that if the teacher changes the problems, then borrowing each other’s old tests would not be an issue. However, accessing old tests not made readily available to all is unfair, as it gives one student more test-oriented practice that another might not receive otherwise. It becomes unjust for a student without the resources and also creates a gap in integrity.

When dealing with essays, there is much less room for cheating. Through, cheating by re-submitting old essays and practice writes is impossible and students are forced to learn to write for themselves.

But then there is the ethical minefield of the college essay. Is it OK for students to look at ones that have been submitted by previous students?.

The danger in passing college essays between members of different classes is that they are used by admissions officers to determine a student’s perspective and unique insights, as well as whether or not they will fit into a certain college’s academic and social environment. When a student uses someone else’s essay as a primary resource and example, the college is not really reading about the applicant’s original thoughts and are instead fed false information, perhaps skewing the admissions process.

Cheating has also become common in lab write-ups for science classes like AP Physics. Most teachers do not change lab questions or write-ups from year to year, since the process in creating a lab is complex and requires certain materials and procedures.

When students provide their classmates with the lab from the year before, current students gains a huge and unethical advantage: They will know all the analysis and discussion question answers and necessary calculations beforehand.

Through these old labs, a student will in effect know the entire lab before even starting. This not only makes it inequitable for other students who have to solve the problems themselves, but also ultimately hurts the student, since they will not truly learn the material.

Although some students may see the immediate help that cheating through old papers  or lab write-ups provides them, in the long run, such habits undercut the whole reason we are in school.

So the next time a friend asks you for an old test or essay or lab write-up, tell them you won’t do it, and it’s because you’re their friend.

3 views this week