Studying from old exams is not cheating; in fact, you can get your hands on old exams at student clubs and the Students' Union Copy Centre.
"Basically we have two ways of doing it," said Brian Westcott, President of the Biology Student Association. "If you are a member and just want to borrow an exam, you can do it for free; otherwise, we usually have exam packages for the more popular courses like BIOL311, with three or four exams included. These are sold at cost to members, for about $2 each."
For $5, you get a membership to the BSA and access to their biology exam bank, which contains exams from almost all biology classes. Many similar clubs exist on campus, offering exams for other programs.
In addition to student clubs like the BSA, professors also give old exams to the SU for sale through the SU Copy Centre. This creates competition between the vendors, both of which rely heavily on the revenue. In fact, the SU made $10,500 last year selling old exams. However, not all clubs have access to old exams like the BSA.
"We usually get a package at the beginning of the year with exams that the professors want to give us," said Westcott. "It's pretty straight forward with respect to intellectual property rights. If a professor writes an exam, it's his or her exam, so if they want to give it out to students, it's up to them."
Access to useful exams may make all the difference in the battle between the SU and student clubs. The SU has some new features this year that will probably tip the scales.
"Last year, our Students' Academic Assembly representatives went around, took exams and talked to the professors to see which ones were new or out of date," said Robbie White, SU Vice-President Operations and Finance. "We got rid of a lot of exams because they were old, we also got some new exams, so everything is up to date. We have our IT department looking at the possibility of placing the exams on-line."
This is however, friendly competition between the two groups.
"I believe in fair competition," said White. "I mean, we are not trying to put clubs out of business. We are both there for the students, so whichever way students want to get their exams is fine."
Taking into account the membership fee and the five cent per page copying costs, the prices at the BSA and the SU Copy Centre are comparable. For one or two dollars, you may well be on your way to straight A's.