Interview Question: Sharing Exam Information

You are a second year medical student and have just finished your final exam of the term. On your way out of the venue, you hear several classmates talking and it becomes clear that they are writing down the questions and answers to give to the students taking the exam next year. What do you do?

This is a question that above all things tests integrity. There are many good responses that candidates could provide, but here are a few example talking points to make sure you’re covering a few bases in the interview.

Firstly, speaking to the friends in confidence first is always a good starting point. Their intentions seem to be good in helping their fellow medical students, but of course sharing the information with other students is cheating. Of course speaking pragmatically, they might feel like they were reducing the stress of younger students and therefore doing a positive thing.

Exams are there for a reason, and in medicine they're important for patient safety

Exams are there for a reason, and in medicine they're important for patient safety

However, it interferes with the examination process which is not only dishonest, but medical exams are intended to prepare doctors for practice and exposure to the public. Cheating might leave gaps in crucial areas of knowledge which the exams were supposed to identify. Furthermore, if a large number of students gets all the answers right in the next year, then disciplinary action could be taken against your friends if the academic staff found out what had happened.

The next step might be to establish whether this type of information has been distributed amongst students before, for example to your friends by older students. If this is a problem affecting a large number of people, it warrants further investigation by academic staff.

In terms of resolving the situation, it would be ideal to recommend that your friends do not go ahead with sharing the exam information and give them the chance to do so. If that doesn’t seem likely, at that point it would be worth discussing in private with your tutor before taking further action.

Fairly obviously, don’t agree with the friends and don’t offer to help them.