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Student demands to see exam before taking it

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Student demands to see exam before taking it
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13:33 CEST+02:00
A student in Münster has made a freedom of information request to the North Rhine-Westphalian authorities, demanding to see copies of the Abitur (high school final exams) before he has to take them.

It's every pupil's dream: Instead of frantically covering every possible topic that could turn up on exam day, you know exactly which questions are going to be asked before walking into the exam hall.

Simon Schräder, a 17-year-old German, is trying to make this dream a reality.

His freedom of information requestion was submitted to the education ministry through the internet platform “Fragdenstaat” (ask the state).

The platform, which is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, is meant to help citizens use their right to see state documents, as affirmed by the freedom of information law which the west German state passed in 2006.

Schräder had been working with a local group of the Open Knowledge Foundation, where he helped normal citizens gain access to information about a wide range of topics, from the local community budget, to the availability of parking spaces in town centres.

“While I was studying I suddenly had the idea to try and get a copy of the Abitur through the freedom of information law,” he explained.

But he doesn't believe his chances of succeeding are too high, despite the fact that three in every four such requests are granted.

“It will be interesting to see though how the ministry reacts and on what legal basis they justify their response.”

Arne Semsrott, a project manager at the Open Knowledge Foundation, also believes Schräder's chances are thin.

Freedom of information requests can be rejected when they endanger the success of a previously initiated government policy, he explains.

Seeing an exam, and being able to prepare for the exact questions it contains in advance, would almost certainly fall into this category, he said.

But Schräder hopes that even if his request is turned down the media attention it has been given will raise public awareness about the freedom of information law.

“It'll bring it home to many people that this law exists. Every interested citizen can take a closer look at the state, which at the end of the day they help finance.”

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