Cheat On College Essays

Cheating in College

Cheating appears to be part of life. We almost expect it from public figures and celebrities — or so news reports would have us think. When cheating goes on by students, though, how do you feel?

There is no exact demographic breakdown of who cheats/ cheated in school; however, there are a number of surveys and studies that give an indicator of how students feel about cheating, and maybe why they do it. We take a look at some of the facts and figures.

Cheating in High School and College: The Numbers

2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics Biennial Report Card on American Youth

In the Nov 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics biennial report card on American Youth, cheating and other questionable behavior was on the decline for the first time in a decade. Notes:

  • 2012 survey was of over 23,000 American students in charter, public and private high schools.
  • All percentages below are based on the number of students who answered a particular question — not necessarily on the total number of students surveyed.
  • The 2010 survey was of over 40,000 students.
  • Figures are for 2012, unless otherwise noted.

Here are some details:

  • In 2012, about 51% of students surveyed admitted to cheating on an exam one or more times in the past academic year, compared to around 59% of students surveyed for the 2010 study. Of the 2012 respondents, 23.4% (5,410) had cheated once on a school test; 27.6% (6,371) had cheated twice or more; 49% (11,313) said they had never cheated. Of males, 22% had cheated just once, and 30% twice or more. Of females, 25% had cheated just once, and 26% twice or more.
  • 57% of respondents (11,844) agreed and 43% (8,899) disagreed with the statement “In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.” About 64% of males agreed, compared to 51% of females.
  • 36% (7,639) agreed and 64% (13,377) disagreed with the statement “A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed.” Of respondents, 45% of males agreed, compared to 28% of females.
  • 22% (4,473) agreed and 78% (16,199) disagreed with the statement “People who are willing to lie, cheat, or break the rules are more likely to succeed than people who are not.” Around 28% of males agreed, compared to 16% of females.
  • 10% (2,048) agreed and 90% (19,420 disagreed with the statement “My parents/ guardians would rather I cheat than get bad grades.” Around 12% of males agreed, compared to 7% of females.
  • 86% (18,374) agreed and 14% (2,992) disagreed with the statement “It’s not worth it to lie or cheat because it hurts your character.” Around 19% of males disagreed, compared to 10% of females.
  • 15% (3,154) agreed and 85% (18,278) disagreed with the statement “It’s not cheating if everyone is doing it.” 20% of male students agreed, compared to 10% of female students.

Another Josephson Institute study was published in Oct 2009 and based on 6,930 respondents in five age groups (17 and under, 18-24, 25-40, 41-50, over 50). The report found some connections between high school cheating and dishonesty later in life, including at work, with spouses, and on taxes.

General Findings

  • According to the GAO (US Government Accountability Office), for 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, 32 states reported “canceling, invalidating, or nullifying test scores” — either for individual students, entire schools, or sometimes entire districts due to suspected or confirmed cheating.
  • In 2012, 36 questions from various California standardized high school exams were photographed with smartphones and shared on social media sites. As a result, 12 schools were penalized for eligibility of state academic awards. Overall, 249 students from 147 schools in 94 California school districts posted 442 images of test materials (most images were not of test questions). California school officials now check social media sites every 15 minutes, to prevent a repeat of the situation.
  • New York City’s well-regarded Stuyvesant High School had a cheating scandal in 2012 where students were texting photos of test pages during some state exams. A group of students had formed a high-pressure “cheating ring,” as one junior student put it. Apparently, teachers did a poor job of monitoring student behavior during exams.
  • New York City currently has a citywide ban on student cell phones in high schools, instituted by Mayor Bloomberg — a ban nearly all of his hopeful successors are promising to lift.
  •, a web service used by educators for potential plagiarism detection, searched 38 million student papers in 2012 for possible matches to online content. (Note: finds matches for large portions of text, which it should be noted is not proof of plagiarism.) 10M of the papers searched were for secondary school students, and the rest were college and university students. 156M matches showed up in those scanned papers. Wikipedia was the top source; Yahoo Answers was second.
  • About 125 Harvard students, in a class of 279 taking a Spring 2012 class on Government, went under investigation for cheating by collaboration on the take-home final exam. 70 of the students have since been asked by the school’s administrative board to retroactively withdraw (usually for a period of one school year). The rest were put on probation.
  • 20 students in the New York city area were caught as part of a college entrance exam cheating ring. They were taking payments of $500-3,600 to impersonate students for SAT and ACT exams. At least 5 of the students were facing the possibility of 4-year prison sentences. The other 15 were juveniles at the time and were only facing misdemeanor charges.
  • 200 senior students at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, managed to get answers to a Dec 2011 English final exam. As a result, 600 students had their tests voided in Jan 2012, when the cheating was discovered due to unusual test scores.
  • In Jan 2012, it was reported that 10 sophomore students (of 180 taking a test) at Newport Beach, California, high school Corona del Mar had purchased test banks ahead of time from — an action constituted as cheating since test banks are intended for use by teachers to create tests with.
  • 20 charges of “academic collusion” was the result when answers to a Psychology course final exam showed up on a Facebook group used by some students in the class at University of Texas in Austin. (The university publishes cheating statistics online. It dealt with an average of 350 cheating cases each year from 2003-2011.)
  • Sometimes students have help cheating. Since 2006, about 100 teachers in American public schools have been caught cheating or lying with the goal of increasing student test scores. Some teachers provided answers or extra time on exams, or corrected incorrect answers on test papers. In some cases, teachers were directed to do some or all of these activities by their school’s principal. One motivation is the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, as schools are affected by reduced funding for low scores.

Cheating by foreign students applying to U.S. colleges is fairly significant.

  • One recent study showed that 90% of Chinese students applying to American colleges provided fake recommendations.
  • 70% had their application essay written by someone else. This is thought to be partly due to poor English skills.
  • 50% alter high school transcripts.

16 Ways Students Cheat

These are some of the ways that students cheat, whether done intentionally or not. This applies to college students as well as high school students, including applying for college.

  1. Having parents do work for them, instead of just helping. (This can be the fault of parents as much as students.) This includes filling out a college application essay.
  2. Faking test scores and recommendation letters (for college applications).
  3. Downloading papers from the Web.
  4. Plagiarizing large or entire portions of text from various sources.
  5. Copying multiple choice take-home test answers.
  6. Copying homework/ essays.
  7. Working in a group but each submitting the same answers/ essays.
  8. Using phones to texting answers to each other during a test.
  9. Saving notes on a smartphone, for viewing during a test.
  10. Using phones to browse the Internet during a test.
  11. Replacing a drink bottle’s label with crib notes. There are videos on YouTube showing students how to cheat, including information on where to get printer-ready labels, and tips on how to apply the glue.
  12. Taking photos of tests (during the test) and posting them online, usually to a social network such as Facebook.
  13. Using phones to check Facebook for a friend’s answers.
  14. Using earbuds hidden in long hair and/or clothing, and listening to prerecorded notes.
  15. Hiring someone to take online courses for them.
  16. Hiring someone from online sources to complete assignments or exams.

Which Students Cheat?

This is a more difficult question to answer, because different surveys have determined different types of students cheat. The collective list includes both low- and high-GPA students, athletes, business students, fraternity and sorority members, younger students, unprepared students with heavy workloads, confused students, unemotional yet confident students and more. Also: men are more likely to cheat than women. So it seems like anyone might cheat, but not everyone will.

Even kids in kindergarten and grade school cheat. One child of 8 years, in Grade 3 and normally an A student was caught cheating on a test. Students this young may feel the pressure to please a parent or teacher by cheating, since by this point they are usually getting a grade for each class. They may also be confused from having to switch from working together in class to working alone on a test.

According to psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, we go through 6 stages of moral development (in 3 levels), becoming less egotistical as we age, and better at determining what is morally right or not. Here are the levels and stages:

Level I: Pre-conventional Morality
Stage 1 – Obedience and Punishment Orientation.
Stage 2 – Individualism and Exchange.

Level II: Conventional Morality
Stage 3 – Good Interpersonal Relationships.
Stage 4 – Maintaining the Social Order.

Level III: Post-conventional Morality
Stage 5 – Social Contract and Individual Rights.
Stage 6 – Universal Principles.

Some experts believe Kohlberg’s study had a male bias, for a variety reasons that are beyond our scope here.

21 Reasons Why Students Cheat

So given the diversity of survey results, which seem to suggest pretty much any type of student might cheat, the more important question is why do they cheat? Here are some common reasons students intentionally cheat.

  1. Because other students are cheating, and are getting better marks without getting caught.
  2. For peer approval.
  3. Because of peer pressure, or to help a friend or fraternity/ sorority.
  4. Gains outweigh penalties.
  5. No honor code and/or no rules stated.
  6. Faculty are allowing it, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  7. An opportunity to cheat presents itself, motivated by other factors.
  8. Chances of being caught are low.
  9. When the emphasis is on grades rather than understanding subjects.
  10. Academic pressure.
  11. Pressure from expectations of the student (typically by family), real or imagined. Some cultures are more susceptible to this than others.
  12. Time pressure from having full- or part-time jobs.
  13. Workloads are heavy, especially when mixed with extra-curricular school activities (sports, clubs, volunteer work).
  14. Low impression of a teacher/ professor as uncaring.
  15. Unfairness on the part of the educator, such as giving tests intentionally meant to fail students, or excessive workloads.
  16. Low impression of the value of classes and/or tests and assignments.
  17. Shifted ethics. Cheating a few times and not getting caught can make it easier to feel that cheating is okay.
  18. Prior lack of effort, possibly due to non-academic pressures.
  19. A course is required; students just want to get it over and done with.
  20. Being privileged, knowing their parents can get them in to a college.
  21. “I’ll never use *this* anyway” attitude, “so it’s ok to cheat this time.”

There are also a number of reasons that students, especially younger ones, unintentionally end up cheating:

  • Inability to summarize multitudes of search results. Students sometimes use “search” as “research,” not understanding the difference.
  • Not understanding copyright, or how to properly citing a reference.
  • Confusion about why term papers they paid for cannot be used in part or in entirety as their own work.
  • Confusion about why it’s okay to work in groups online for classes and sometimes homework, then having to work on their own for other situations.
  • Blurred lines. Being in a mindset of “social sharing,” where sharing is “caring.”

18 Tools and Techniques Teachers Use to Prevent or Catch Cheating

Here are some of the ways educators in high school or college either prevent or catch cheating.

  1. For assignments and essays, explaining the difference between searching and researching, and showing by example.
  2. Checking hands as students come in for an exam — sometimes casually with a handshake.
  3. Banning electronic devices from at least an exam room, if not in the classroom or the school.
  4. Having all backpacks and book bags in one part of the exam room.
  5. Reminding students of any academic code of conduct before an exam begins. Having students sign a pledge before a test or exam can reduce cheating.
  6. Use teaching assistants to monitor exam rooms.
  7. Checking randomly for student id, to prevent impostors who fill in for another student during an exam.
  8. Walking around the exam room, to prevent students from communicating covertly.
  9. Being alert to possible physical signals (coughing, tapping).
  10. Using web service to check for the possibility of plagiarism.
  11. Creating fresh new tests to avoid the possibility of answers online.
  12. For smaller classes, being familiar with each student’s writing style – in terms of wording, phrasing, grammar.
  13. Using handwriting analysis to determine if homework and take-home tests have been completed by one person for several students.
  14. Keeping test materials locked up, and passwords unique and “strong”.
  15. Creating multiple (2 or 3) versions of tests, without announcing it, and alternating distribution in the exam room by rows or columns.
  16. Using open book tests and having students explain their work on a test or exam. This approach allows them to use whatever study materials they want, but by explaining their reasoning, indicates whether they understand the concepts or not.
  17. Preparing students for learning instead of just test-taking by explaining how each lesson may help them in the future.
  18. In more extreme situations, statistical methods similar to that used to detect card cheats in casinos are used for detecting cheating on tests. These methods are not new; some date back to at least 1972, if not earlier.

Related: A Simple Guide to Hacking Your Way Through College


Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites:



Almost every student has some difficulties with college essays and passing the college exams, that's why essay writing service is so popular nowadays. It is impossible to know everything. And the more we learn, the more we understand that fact. Doubtless there isn’t anyone who has never cheated in college. And now, the examination period crept invisibly, there is neither the time nor the desire to study the whole material which students have been searching for months. And here it is! The perfect opportunity, unexpected chance to cheat the exams.

Today, there are a great number of options and ways to cheat an exam. New technologies have made that process much easier for students than ever before. The Internet has become an irreplaceable part of our lives, digital technologies have almost captured it. But at such situation there is a rather big plus because the modern technologies can help us in carrying out controls and passing important exams when examinator keep his eyes on the students every single moment. The ability to cheat is a perfect skill, which masterly use the 98% of students.

The cheating process requires the development of specific skills, mastery of certain psychological techniques. It cannot be done without peculiar skills, attentiveness, responsiveness. In brief, the cheater should have a well-developed motor skills: quick and precise interaction of basic human sensory systems. Also, it is in some kind a teamwork, for instance, a student might call the examinator with a question, which will take teacher’s attention away from the other students. Now, they have just a moment to find needed crib, look at their gadgets or do anything else to help themselves to find the right answer. 
So, let’s back to the main purpose of our research: the popular ways of students cheat in college.

1. Cheating with a crib.

A student without cribs are not a student. Every new generation of students brings its idea to the process of cribs invention. And with the Internet development even the laziest student can make cribs. A good estimate is guaranteed if the crib is prepared correctly and student use it efficiently.

What is the crib?

Crib or cheat sheet is a compressed material on any subject, which reflects the most important and relevant information for each question. The crib is a kind of a response plan, closely configured and recorded on a particular medium.

Next, we try to consider the main types of cheat sheets:

1.1. Simple crib

It is a piece of paper which consists of a small written  in theses text to response to one or more questions.

1.2. Cheat sheet bomb

It is a pre-written cheat sheet with the correct answers to the questions. It takes a lot of time to prepare such crib, but it is one of the best methods to pass the exams. Before writing “bomb” student has to go to the other group exam, listen to the questions, write down all important things and then prepare the  precisely the same correct answers.

1.3. Cheat sheet invisible bomb

The student has to write the answers to the list, each answer on a new one, but first he/she has to place under the list a blank piece of paper. Than student must  press harder on the pen. The first list of paper can be thrown out. At the exam, student pulls a ticket and took a clean-looking piece of paper, but in reality he already has a ready answer for it.

1.4. Crib-book

It is a little book made of torn pages from the main one. It is hard to prepare such crib, but then you will write text it without wasting time.

1.5. Table cheat sheet

Now more and more often, it is prohibited on the exam to have something that is not associated with the procedure. If the message about future control catches student off guard, he/she can quickly write a small post on the desk with the basic information - dates, formulas and names, etc. It is also used in the case when you know the audience of an exam. It will be enough to come early to take a comfortable place and write on a table or a chair a needed cheat sheet.

1.6. Bottle crib

It is a well-known and popular trick with a bottle of water or the empty box or jar, when student write a cheat sheet on the back side of the bottle label with soda or hide a crib in the juice jar.

1.7. Clothing cheat sheet

A student can tip, sew, wrap or paste a piece of paper with the needed text to the skirt, a sweaters’ sleeve or dress. Students also may wear hats, jackets to an exam.

2. Cheating with the help of modern technologies

The rapid development of technology makes it possible to cheat from our mobile phones, portable music players, tablets, e-books, the micro earpiece. Even 10 years ago, the average cheater could not even dream of such a variety of devices, but now, cheat sheet using with the help of modern devices is a widespread practice. Here are eight most recent high-tech cheating techniques, some of which were designed in a well-known China:

2.1.Electronic cribs 

The most modern mobile devices can read the main text formats, so students may download the needed file with ease.

2.2. SMS/MMS

The technique is simple, popular and effective. Test questions are sent to a friend who is looking for information in the pre-abandoned books, the Internet or another device. And then send the SMS or MMS (photo) with the answer.

2.3. Mobile Internet 

Students can easy use the independent search for finding different essays, controls, answers. They can open anyone essay writing services sites.

2.4. Earpiece (Headset handsfree, with Bluetooth)

Due to earpiece compact size, inserted in the ear earpiece remains virtually invisible to observe the teacher's exam. The essence of cheating to record the answers to the questions and then listen to them, or in real-time mode or to dictate responses to the friend, who, for example, is in the neighboring audience. The headset needs to connect to the Bluetooth-module and then a mobile phone sends a signal to it.

2.5. Watch-cheatsheet  

There is also a new secure cheating method - the use of the clock. It is a unique solution to pass the exam with just a little risk to be caught on the hot. No one will notice that the clock can store a text document with answers and prompts.

2.6. Camera Glasses 

Such glasses we have already seen in the popular films, but also simple students may use such Chinese electronic device as a perfect cheat sheet. A remote shutter device activates a micro camera that allows photographs of test questions to be relayed to the students eyes.

2.7. High-tech pen with a light 

Students all over the world can  order several “High-tech Cheat Pens” from China. Some high-tech pens have a small screen to display test answers. Others have used infrared light pens to display answers when exposed to paper.

2.8. Wired Clothes 

There is something new - a high-tech T-shirt. It incorporated a tiny camera that plugged into a phone to transmit information. 

3. Cheating signs and the secret of students body     

3.1. Examinator always is watching for signs of cheating 

Students have a very good phantasy and memory. The day before the exam  they may create their own language of signs. For instance, on a multiple choice test, if the answer is A, they can touch the left ear. If the answer is B, they can touch their nose, and so on.
All students know that there is no talking allowed during the exam, but they can whisper in a secret way to another student to get a needed answer.

3.2. Look for writing on the student’s body 

The most longstanding cheating methods are to write answers on a student’s left or right hand or arm, hide it between fingers, or another body part with the use of colour pens.
Students, especially females, and especially on hot weather may write notes on their legs. They will then wear a skirt of a particular length that covers the writing, but that can be inched upward to reveal the notes.  Often a lot of students use alcohol wipes to remove pen ink from their skin before turning in their exam the table of the examiner.

The examiners are students in the past and they know a lot of students’ tricks. And if they do not know something they are taught by the students themselves under their unsuccessful cheating. Teachers are  also versed in all modern technological devices. And if your attempt to get the cheat sheet remained “unnoticed”, if the examiner keeps silent, in principle, it means that he agrees with the status quo. So do not fidget, fuss and look around! But it is more important to remember that the primary and irreplaceable crib, it’s your head.

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