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National College of Ireland


Exams guide: Past Exam Papers

Quick link to NCI's Past Exams Database

You can access past examination papers through the Library homepage or by clicking on the Past Exams Database.


Why familiarise yourself with past exam papers?

Familiarising yourself with past exam papers is one of the best ways to revise for your exams. It not only helps you get to grips with what you can expect on the day in terms of the amount of questions you will be asked and the time you will have to answer them, but it also gives you a fantastic chance to see what sorts of topics come up and how they are presented and examined.

Avoiding exam stress

Preparation is key

Knowing about all this will mean that you will be better prepared for your exams. This will help to improve your performance and keep the stress levels down on the day of your exams. It’s a win-win situation and should be something that you look at before you begin your revision as well as in the immediate run-in to the exam.

By knowing what to expect, you will be able to determine how much time to allot to each question as well as give yourself some really important time at the start of the exam to determine what questions to answer as well as exactly how you're going to tackle each question and at the end of the exam to review your answers.

Most exams are uploaded on to the Past Exams Database in the weeks following the completion of a term’s exams. Some exams don’t make it there for a number of reasons. If you have any query about an exam paper that should be available, just contact a member of library staff or your course administrator.


How to access the Past Exams Database

There are two ways of accessing past exams: you can Browse or Search.


The 'Browse' button is located on the main menu bar.


When you click on 'Browse', you will see a list of choices on the left hand side categorised by whether the course is an undergraduate course (full- or part-time), a postgraduate course (full- or part-time), and undergraduate and postgraduate previously run courses e.g., Undergraduate_Full_Time. Click on the option that is relevant to the course you are studying and you will be presented with course codes listed alphabetically. Simply click on your own course code. (If you are unsure of your course code, you can find it on the front of your Student Card).

finding your exam








Click on a folder to expand your choices. To contract the folder, simply click the same folder again.

When you have located your exam paper, the file appears as a PDF to the right-hand side of the screen (see below). If you cannot view the exam paper in question, you may need to have Adobe Acrobat downloaded on your computer. You can get a free copy here (

PDF example








When you click on the file, you will be given the option to 'Open' or 'Save'. From here you can either print the exam paper you require, or simply read online.


The 'Search' tool can be located at the top right-hand side of the page.

search bar for exam papers

You can search exam papers two ways. 

1) Search by course name, e.g. 'Business Communications'

2) Search by code, e.g. 'bahahr2'

Search example

Courses will appear to the lower left-hand side where you can browse to the required paper.

If searching by 'Code', the options will appear to the lower right-hand side in PDF format where you have the option to 'Open' or 'Save' the file.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for?

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, just contact a member of the library staff, either by popping over to the library desk, calling us (01 – 449 8528), or emailing us ( You can even ask a question by logging on to our Facebook page.

Don’t forget!

Viewing past exam papers can be a great way to familiarise yourself with the format, material, and types of questions that you will have to face in your exam, but always keep in mind that regulations, questions, and/or topics may have changed since these exam papers were set. If you have any doubts at all, please contact your course administrator.