Prevention and Detection of Cheating on Exams

Form of dishonesty: Cheating in general

  • Prevention: Proctor exam.
    • Distribute alternate forms of the exam so that no students are next to others who have the same form of the exam
    • Mark different forms of the exam by printing them on different colors so that you can easily tell if two students near each other are using the same form of the exam
  • Detection: Carefully observe test takers preferably from the back of the room so that they cannot see the proctor without turning around
    • Change position frequently while proctoring 
    • Make a seating chart of the exam so that later you can check if two students with suspiciously similar exams were seated next to each other


Form of dishonesty: stealing exams prior to administration.

  • Prevention: Establish strict test taking procedures.
    • Do not allow student employees to copy or type exams.
    • Store exams on computer diskettes not on hard drive and keep the diskettes locked up.
    • Shred copies spoiled during duplication.
    • Do not leave copies hanging around the office or work area or in a faculty box. o
    • Keep track of teacher’s manuals with test banks and answer keys.
    • Don’t allow students in your room unsupervised.
    • Don’t copy test from a teacher’s manual, from a school library book, or another source easily accessible to students.
    • Give essay rather than multiple-choice whenever possible.
    • Avoid tests requiring memorization of large amounts of material; students might feel more pressure to cheat on such tests.
    • Change at least some questions if you are re-using the test for another class period.
    • Always have two or more versions of a test for each class period.
    • Print tests on different color paper for different periods.
    • Change tests from year to year, semester to semester. Old ones circulate. ·
  • Detection: Number all exam copies immediately and periodically check for missing copies.


Form of dishonesty: Using crib notes

  • Prevention: Provide blue books for students and mark them with some distinguishing mark. If students bring their own exam book, collect them, stamps them and redistribute them randomly.
    • Attach blank pages to the test if scratch paper is needed.
    • Limit student access to electronic devices such as pagers, cell phones.
    •  Be explicit about what materials students may and may not bring with them into exam.
    • Require students to leave books, coats, backpacks, and so on at the front or back of the room.
    • Require students wearing baseball caps to turn the brim to the rear.
    • Require students to turn in exam if they must leave the room.
    • Provide all scratch paper to be used.
    • Require all scratch paper to be handed in with the test, stapling each student’s scratch paper to his/her test.
    • Do not let students use blue books they have brought to class
    • Put date stamp on bluebooks you have brought so that they are only good for that day.
    • For open book exams, walk around room making sure that no unauthorized materials are being consulted.
    • Allow only materials required for the test on the desktop or near the desk.
    • Make sure no charts or cheat sheets have been posted (or left by you) up on walls or chalk board
  • Detection: Be alert for answers that look too good.
    • Watch for cheater-friendly baggy clothing
    • Be alert to strange behaviors, especially when they are repetitive


Form of dishonesty: Copying from or exchanging information with other test takers

  • Prevention: Seat students in every other desk
    • Seat students alphabetically or by some other scheme students could not have calculated
    • Be sure to count exams accurately so that you do not give out too many
    • Hand out alternate form of exam for every other row
    • Fill out Scantron sheets in advance with name, ID number; this prevents a student taking an exam for a friend as well as for himself
    • Have students cover answers with a blank page to prevent copying
    • Remind students that you are watching if you think you have seen wandering eyes
    • Watch for body language (or auditory) signals from one student to another
    • Pay special attention to students in the back row who may be there because they think they will be unnoticed
    • Always turn finished exams face down when a student approaches your desk
    • Encourage students to use the facilities before the test begins
    • Have an orderly system for collecting tests
    • Make sure that students who return to put their name on their test don’t use the opportunity to write more information or to look at others’ tests and change their own answers ·
  • Detection: Watch for too many answers that are similar on two papers
    • Watch for a repeat on wording that is particularly unique