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I design exams which should contain code samples using pdflatex. In lecture scripts I successfully use the listings package. The general design is done via the exam document class.

I created my own class file expanding the exam class file and channeling down the options to the exam class.

        \PassOptionsToClass{\CurrentOption}{exam}%pass option to exam

This class defines a special predefined format for the listings and deals with problems. Therefore, my 'private' exam class would like to use


This, unfortunately, causes error messages beginning with:

! LaTeX Error: Command \abovecaptionskip already defined.
! LaTeX Error: Command \belowcaptionskip already defined.
! LaTeX Error: Command \solution already defined.

The following code in the main exam document works:


When I look up information sources I gather the information that RequirePackage and usepackage are identical with the difference that RequirePackage is allowed before documentclass but usepackage is not.

Anybody around to enlighten me why RequirePackage does not work in the class file here?

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You should edit your question to add a stripped-down version of your custom class that reproduces the problem when used in a document. – Jubobs Jun 15 '14 at 15:25
Where did you put your \RequirePackage lines? They should be after \LoadClass. If you put \RequirePackage{probsoln} before \LoadClass{exam} you'll get the Command \solution already defined error. I don't know what's causing the other errors. As Jubobs commented, we'd need to see a complete minimal class to help further. – Nicola Talbot Jun 15 '14 at 15:29
@Jubobs: The difference between \RequirePackage and \usepackage is irrelevant here, the order of the loaded classes and packages matters. A MWE would show that order. – Heiko Oberdiek Jun 15 '14 at 15:29
A test file seems not to be necessary as moving the RequirePackage after the LoadClass command solved the problem. Thank you very much for the input. But there needs to be more to it as I am not allowed to put all RequirePackage commands after the LoadClass part. What is the logic behind it? – Ulrich Hauser-Ehninger Jun 15 '14 at 15:44
@UlrichHauser-Ehninger Recommended reading: latex-project.org/guides/clsguide.pdf – Jubobs Jun 15 '14 at 15:45

One of the issues here is that both probsoln and exam define the solution environment. However, probsoln will only define it if it doesn't already exist. If you load probsoln first, it will define the solution environment, because it's undefined. Then you load exam, which also tries to define the solution environment, and this is what causes the error Command \solution already defined.

Where you put \RequirePackage depends on when you need the commands that are defined in that package. If, say, your class options need to use xkeyval (or something similar) you'd need to load that package before the options, but if the basic class commands need to be defined before the commands in any included packages, then those packages need to be loaded after \LoadClass.

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Thank you for this answer. This really helps an sheds some light on the order problem. So, if exam would test for the solution environment as well it would always work, but -depending on the calling order- would provide different definitions for the solutionenvironment? – Ulrich Hauser-Ehninger Jun 15 '14 at 16:01
Yes, it would result in different definitions for the solution environment, which may cause unexpected results. In general, classes assume they're starting with a "clean plate". That is, they just have the kernel commands defined. – Nicola Talbot Jun 15 '14 at 17:14
Thanks for the clarification – Ulrich Hauser-Ehninger Jun 15 '14 at 23:16

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