Reused Real Estate Exam Frustrates Students

Maud Rozee (2L)

Adjunct Professor Craig Carter’s Fall 2016 Real Estate Law exam was substantially the same as the exam he gave to his Winter 2016 Real Estate Transactions class at Osgoode Hall Law School. Some U of T students in the class had asked friends at Osgoode to send them Carter’s past exams to use as study materials. These students read, discussed, and analyzed their final exam problem beforehandgiving them a significant advantage over students who were seeing the eight page exam for the first time.

This is Prof. Carter’s first semester teaching at U of T Law, and the first time he has reused an exam. This differentiates this exam-reuse incident from last year’s, when Professor Catherine Valcke gave a past exam to her 1L Contracts class for the third year in a row. That December 2015 exam was the same one she had given in April 2007; in April 2015, she administered the same exam as she had in April 2014; and the April 2014 problem itself was substantially similar to an exam she had given in April 2009.

In April 2015, the administration offered Prof. Valcke’s class two options: (a) have their exam answer graded as is or (b) write a new four-hour take-home exam during the week after exam period. The two options were “treated as separate pools for grading purposes.”

After Prof. Valcke’s third exam reuse in December 2015, the SLS wrote a letter to Dean Iacobucci and Associate Dean Rittich asking that the administration adopt a firm policy against the wholesale reuse of past exams. In an April 2016 interview with Ultra Vires, Dean Iacobucci described exam reuse as “not a straightforward issue.” He pointed to evolving practices among students and different pedagogical views among professors as complicating factors. Still, he said that after the incident in April 2015, “[W]here the institution felt that we needed to offer an alternative exam, I thought that was the right thing to do.”

Prof. Carter said he was not aware that University of Toronto students could or would access exams from another law school: “It never crossed my mind. I am shocked. I put a lot of time and energy into delivering an informative and interesting course and I am extremely upset that this has happened. I apologize and can assure you that it won’t happen again.” This response suggests that administrators had not made Prof. Carter aware of concerns from students who took the reused Real Estate exam. These students were disappointed by administrators’ responses to their concerns about the inequity arising from the reuse. The SLS discussed the issue at their most recent meeting.