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Find past exams – 8 smart sources you should know

Old exam sheets are incredibly important in exam preparation. They help you to get a feeling for the possible questions, topics and the time factor. Unfortunately, they are often hard to find. In this post, I will show 8 different ways where you could possibly get them.

In a nutshell

There are many ways to get old exams. In the university environment, you can search in the library, ask student councils, professors, tutors and fellow students. In addition, there are websites like Course Hero, OneClass, StuDocu or Studydrive, where you can find previous exams.

In the following article, I will go into detail on how you can proceed in order to find old exams. Here is a small overview for you.

Why are old exams helpful?

The worst thing about exams for me was that you didn’t know what to expect: Which topics and types of tasks are particularly important? How limited will the time be? Will the exam be harder than the exercises?

Old exams can give you these insights. Often, the professor’s lecture and the exercises are not enough. Especially in MINT courses or multiple-choice tests, reviewing past exams is extremely valuable in preparation.

Advantages of old exams:

  • Tasks on exam level
  • Feeling for the extent of the tasks
  • Insight into the weighting of the topics
  • Important insights into time management


Important: Old exams are no guarantee that the next exam will be like this one. Especially if the old exam is from a different professor or even from a different chair, the next exam can be extremely different. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.

Libraries & University Archives

Many university libraries offer a database of past exam papers. Most of the time you can simply go to the websites of your respective college and search for documents of your course.

When you find something there is usually the option to download the exam sheet. Sometimes you have to go there in person.

Student Council

In many study programs, the student council is a valuable source for old exams. Since there are many students from older semesters in the student council, they often collect previous exam sheets and solutions of exams that you still have to write.

Sometimes they even organize sales of old exams (for a small fee) or just hand them out when you come by. If this was not the case for you, it is definitely worth asking the student council directly!

If you don’t want to go there, there is usually a social media group of the student council that you can use. Or you can simply write an email to your contact person there.

Even if they don’t have the exam you are looking for, the students there can give you important tips on what to look for and how to prepare for the exam.


Achtung: Wobei Anki besonders wegen seiner Spaced Repetition Funktion beliebt ist, wurde ein ähnliches Feature bei Quizlet 2020 eingestellt. Zum Auswendiglernen ist daher Anki oft die bessere Wahl.


Of course, there are also many professors who distribute old exams or practice exams for exam preparation. For me, this often happened in the second to last lecture of the semester. You might have to be patient for a while. 

In this case, the old exams provide the best orientation, since the professor will NORMALLY design the upcoming exam similarly.

Here, too, it is worthwhile to ask your professor before or after the lecture whether he can provide more old exams.


Tip: Profs often distribute last year’s exams. If you have the opportunity, it is often a good idea to enroll in the course a year earlier, even if you don’t want to write the exam yet.

This way, you often get online access to the documents and have an additional old exam and possibly other exercises for next year.


Tutors are very good contact for all topics concerning the next exam. Through the cooperation with the professor and their own experience, they can give you important tips

Since you can take the information with you for some exams, it is worth asking your tutor for an old exam. Maybe you can go through it together in the tutorial!

Fellow students 

Use your network! Not everyone takes the same exams in the same semester. Many of your university friends and acquaintances may have already written the exam you are about to take and can send you their exam sheets and maybe even the solutions. 

You have an even better chance if you ask fellow students from higher semesters. 

It doesn’t hurt to ask in possible Facebook, or other social media groups, forums or anything like that. Often you will find people who can help you or who might have an idea where you could ask.

After the possible old exam sources from your university environment, we now come to 4 websites on which you will hopefully find what you are looking for. Note: These websites are especially helpful if you are in a large study program. The smaller your study program, the smaller the chance that you will find something!


StuDocu is a site where students can upload their documents for other students. StuDocu is a dutch company but you can find documents from universities around the world!

According to StuDocu itself, there are over 4 million documents uploaded by students. Among them, of course, are many old exams. 

To find previous exams, you simply register for free and search for the desired exam, just like at Studydrive. Unfortunately, you cannot filter by exams in the “Category Filter“. Therefore, you simply have to include “exam” in the search. Here is a sample search of mine:

Important: not all documents are freely accessible. With the basic account, you have access to 80% of the documents. To view and download the remaining 20% you need a premium account.

The hurdle to the premium account is quite small. There are two options: 

  • You can upload 5 documents like exercises or summaries from previous lectures. If these are accepted, you get 10 weeks of premium access.
  • You buy a subscription. This currently costs either 2.99€ per month in the annual or 4.99€ per month in the quarterly term.

Course Hero

Course Hero is an American site that is very similar to StuDocu. If you are looking for old exams, you don’t even have to register to see if they have interesting documents for download. 

At the latest when you have found what you are looking for, you will have to create an account. Unfortunately, Corse Hero does not show you the whole document. You have to upload documents yourself or buy a subscription, just like with StuDocu:

The price is with 9.95$ per month a lot higher than with StuDocu, but there is also a quota of 40 questions that you can ask a tutor. If you are only looking for old exams, this is probably too much. 

If you have found a document that you really need but don’t want to pay so much for it, you can also upload 10 of your documents. For every 10 of your documents, you can view and download 5 other documents.


Another Website where you can look for past exam papers is OneClass. Just like with Course Hero, you can search for interesting documents even before creating an account. 

Once you want to see the exam, you will need to buy a subscription. Unfortunately, there is no way to get premium access without paying. So you can not upload your documents in order to get access to documents as with Course Hero or StuDocu.

The cheapest option is “Grade+”, which costs around $8 a month billed annually.


On Studydrive, I have found valuable old exams for the final exam phase almost every semester. According to their own information, there are now more than 730,000 documents available.

Note: Studydrive is a German site but you can find many documents from international universities there. So a quick search on there is definitely worth it!

You can simply register for free and get access to them. Then use the search bar to look for the desired old exam. Using the filters, you can filter exactly according to your university and the lecture. Here is an example:

In addition to old exams, you can also find summaries from other students, a community function where you can ask other fellow students if you have questions, and meanwhile also a flashcards tool, which is very useful. 

After the exam, you can upload your own documents and, maybe, the exam sheet and help the following students. You will receive a useful bonus from Studydrive.

I hope I was able to help you in your search. And always remember: 

Study smart, not hard 🎓

*A small disclaimer here: Some links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy the product through that link, I'll receive a small commission while the price for you stays the same! Thanks for your support! :)

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