Students cheating on exams is nothing new. Since the dawn of exams there have been those willing to cheat, but with developments in technology it is now easier than ever to do. Schools, colleges and universities, however, are doing everything they can to stop cheating.
An academic, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Guardian that the “ways in which students cheat are either ingenious or surprisingly obvious”.
“Hi-tech devices have allowed more opportunities to cheat,” said one anonymous invigilator. “For example, I have removed smart watches from students.” The danger is that young pupils “have grown up with that tech. They are comfortable with it”.
Students hide earphones in headscarves, copy and paste, steal, use phones and pay people to write essays for them. The use of essay-writing services is on the rise. While ear-pieces and phones can be spotted and plagiarism can be detected via software like Turnitin, it is considerably more difficult to catch those using essay mills.
Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) claims there are currently more than 100 essay mills operating online. The services offer bespoke essays and dissertations for prices ranging from £150 (US$200) up to £7,000 (US$9,300) depending on the level of study and length of essay.
Students’ reasons for cheating are varied: pressure from themselves, parents or academics, laziness and health issues to name a few.
What many students do not realise is their school, college or university will be willing to speak to them about it. If there is a genuine concern, many institutions will be open to allowing a deadline extension or will simply provide more support for a struggling pupil.
Cheating is never a viable option.
Despite this, sometimes students will revert to more traditional methods like writing notes in hidden places. This can be either on their bodies or on something they can access during the exam, like paper up their sleeve, or notes hidden in an accessible bathroom. One Chinese student scribbled all her notes down her leg before an accounting exam.
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QAA for Higher Education said: “Students should be aware that cheaters do get caught and the penalties are severe. In some cases, these include expulsion. Leaving university without a degree and owing substantial amounts in fees just isn’t worth the risk.”
More and more teachers and professors are cracking down on cheating and the penalties can be strict and harsh. As the anonymous lecturer writing for The Guardian said: “Don’t cheat, because if you do, I will catch you. And I do.”