The Complete Guide to Cheating on a Test
So, you have a test rapidly approaching and you a) didn’t study or b) don’t want to study, and that’s when you decide to cheat. You’ve seen it done in the movies, in books, and even real life, which means it can’t be that hard. It seems simple enough, right? That’s where you are wrong. While a select few students manage to pull off cheating without getting caught, the same cannot be said for the majority.
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Most get Caught Cheating
Cheating, expressly at a collegiate level, is not taken lightly. Instead of just failing the one test or essay you were so worried about, you could end up failing the whole course, which is a little more serious. Aside from automatically failing the class, you could face suspension. This means a semester or even a full academic year being pulled out of school, which would delay your graduation time significantly. Cheating can also be marked on your transcript, so that future schools, scholarship donors, academic programs, and employers will be able to see.
While you may think you are outsmarting your educator, it is evident when the work doesn’t match up with the student. Your instructors become familiar with your writing and work, so when you are suddenly producing doctorate level work, they will know something is up.
In addition to personal detection, there is advanced and readily available technology to aid teachers and professors, allowing them to detect plagiarism at the touch of a button. Their computers will have software installed that allows them to run your work against other students in your school and the world. This ensures that you are not copying from your peers or paying a website to do the work.
Checking for Plagiarism is Easy
Another type of cheating, which most students don’t even consider, is self-plagiarism. Using work that you’ve submitted for another course in the past counts as cheating. It may sound ridiculous since it’s your own work, but you will get caught and suffer the same consequences as plagiarizing. If you feel that your work is overlapping with something else you’ve turned in, check with your professor, so you can avoid getting in trouble.
There are numerous websites that provide very cheap or even free plagiarism checkers, so you can make sure that you don’t end up in a conversation about cheating with your professor. You should always run your work through these just to ensure that the work is 100% original and your own.
In addition, a testing center at the University of Central Florida shows different ways it combats cheating, while students sharing information online is very popular.
The New Frontier in Cheating
As technology advances so do ways around it in an ‘arms race’ and cheating is no different.
Whether you think cheating is a good idea or not, you may want to consider what you are up against.
No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cell phone to an accomplice outside.
The computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later is easy to spot.
Scratch paper is allowed but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later.
When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student’s real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence.
Students Sharing Information About Courses, Exams Online
A shared-information academic site is one, which gives students information about college professors and their courses. They are controversial because some educators worry that the information that students share might sometimes cross over the boundary into cheating.
These information-share sites provide information on a college’s professors and courses, along with details of what the professor normally expects the student to know from the material. Students are encouraged to upload their own class notes, and even quizzes and exams. They also buy and sell textbooks.
Students, and even many professors, defend the sites, saying this is just the 21st century equivalent of students comparing their class notes among themselves. Other professors are a bit more hesitant, pointing out that students are sharing exams and quizzes with one another. However, the websites themselves point out that the only exams permitted are old exams that are not currently used in the course. Studying old exams is one of the best study methods. Administrators say they do their research first to make sure that no current exam questions make it to their sites. They say that every new college that they service, they find out what the school’s honor code is and work hard to conform with that code.
The critics, though, point out that sometimes instructors use the same exams year after year.
Of course, the old-faithful among college student sites remains Facebook. Currently, it’s estimated that an astonishing 85% of college and university students use Facebook actively. And there are more than 1,500 groups on Facebook devoted to the specific purpose of studying for various college classes. However, Facebook does not currently make it easy to share exam questions among its members.
What should your approach be to using these resources for test preparation? It’s an ethical call, but few people see any problem with sharing notes or even with sharing previous tests that are no longer in use. More discussion of the Ethics here from NPR. For tests that are still being actively used, though, it’s a different matter. Some might say it’s no different than handing a physical copy of this year’s exam to another student.
At the end of the day, while cheating may seem like a quick and easy way to pass a test or get through an essay; the repercussions for getting caught are so severe, that it would be better to cram for your exam or paper instead.