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The Creativity of College Cheating

from Morguefile.com

Academic honesty has faced plenty of problems over the years. They have all been people. People are the biggest problems because they can always think up new ways to go about getting what they want. If a college course is too tough in their eyes, hundreds of options open up, and only one of them is honest. There’s a reason cheating has never been stopped, and that’s human ingenuity.

Cheating hasn’t really been studied in depth, since it’s in so many forms, but the fact that cheating depends on creativity has been addressed. One paper, published by the University of Michigan in 2006 and titled How College Students Cheat On In-Class Examinations: Creativity, Strain, and Techniques of Innovation, “examines the variety of creative tactics that students use to cheat during in-class examinations.” I’ve culled the most fascinating examples given, all of which prove that cheaters are a lot more cunning than you might think.

Disclaimer: Cheating is of course not a good idea, and often has drastic penalties. Don’t consider this a suggestion, but a cautionary exploration.

1. Learn the teacher’s interests.

Says one student interviewed:

What I mean by that is notice if he brings a magazine or newspaper and if he does this everyday. If you see him reading something on campus, notice what it is and how long he’ll read than look up. Bring a watch. Most people begin reading something they like and forget what they are supposed to be doing and in about 5 minutes they’ll look up to see where they are or look at their watch to remember what they have to do. After you notice these things a few times your set. If you are going to a test and he comes in with a magazine or paper he read daily or every other day you got him. You’ve already studied his reading habits and you know about how often he’ll look up at the class. Say he looks up about every 3 minutes. You know you have at least 2 minutes to cheat so now you got him. He is unaware of his thought less routines or habits so the chance of getting caught in virtually gone.

2.  The Flying Ducks method

Another student shares one of my favorites:

I found [one] method relying on several parties in an auditorium setting. I call this method the flying ducks formation of test taking. You need a few people in order to make this procedure work. A person who studies or is a scholar is needed for this procedure. What happens is the scholar sits in front of the pack of students and takes the test as though nothing is happening. Two people sit in front of the pack of students and takes the test as though nothing is happening. Two people sit in the next row over his shoulder in a formation and compare or copy the test from him. Then in the next row, two people sit to the left over and the right over and copy the test. When looked from above the students sit in a V-formation as though they are a flock of ducks migrating to the south. This procedure works best in auditorium classes that has a slope in it, because it is easier to look at someone else’s paper.

3. Signs

Two students share similar stories:

Another method of cheating that was successful on multiple choice tests for a while was using signs. This would work in the classes that had students facing each other. For example, I would watch a student and he or she would signal me the answer by touch the nose for A, touch the chin for B, the ear for C, and finally touch the top of the head for answer D. This method was harder so we had to pay attention and stay on the same question.

I had a huge exam in physics coming up and had no time to study. So I devised a plan with a friend in that class. The plan was to cheat on the exam through silent communication. The way we decided to do this was to give each object on our desk a certain letter meaning. A would be a pencil, B would be a pen, C would be a calculator, and D would be the actual test. When either one of us didn’t know the answer to one of the questions we would knock the number of the question out lightly on the desk and wait for the other to pick up the object with the letter of the right answer assigned to it. It worked beautifully and the teacher never knew what happened. We both passed the test and were never caught.


4. Notes on body parts

Instead of writing the answers in my hand, I would write them on the side of my fingers. If I were asked to present my hands for inspection, there would be no visible evidence of the crime. When the teacher would scan for cheating students, I would put my hand on my forehead “in frustration” and read the answers from between my fingers.

This point includes perhaps the most devious method of all:

It was a long skirt that came down to my ankles with a slit on both sides. Before every test I would write all the answers on my thigh. When I stood up you could not see because that slit was not that high, but it was high enough when I sat down. When I sat down to take my test, my skirt came up a little. I then crossed my legs and I could see all the answers that I had written on my leg. If he passed by my desk I would uncross my legs and I was good to go.

“The reality of the academy inhibits—or ought to inhibit—confrontation by male professors (especially) who witness a female student sliding up her skirt to sneak a peek at her upper thighs for answers,” the author Phillip C. H. Shon states. “Should a professor be courageous (reckless?) enough to accuse such a student of academic dishonesty, the cheater has at her disposal a trump card of her own. That is, she is able to counter his accusation with an accusation of her own: ‘What are you doing looking at my legs in the first place?'”

5. Use clothes

I would tape a cheat sheet upside down on the inside bottom of my shirt. While taking the test I could turn the bottom of my shirt up and get the formula, answer, etc.


Now cheating in basic classes isn’t that hard either best way is a hat just pull it low. The teacher can see the top of the head but has no clue where the eyes are going, hats give the perfect angles for viewing neighbors tests.

6. Rubberbands

Basically, the night before the test, you can take the rubberband, preferably a thicker one, and stretch it. While stretched, write the answers on the rubberband as small as you can see from about a foot away. Write the answers as close together as you can. When the rubberband is unstretched it will just appear to be colored solid black, but stretched it will reveal the answers. I haven’t met a teacher that was suspicious of a rubberband. When the test starts, just start playing with the rubberband. If you keep stretching and unstretching it, the teacher won’t think anything of it when you stretch it to look for an answer. The trick is that you need to keep a steady pace of stretching + unstretching the rubberband, and you can’t break that pace when you look for an answer.

7. Hide it in your pen.

I noticed that someone was preparing a cheat sheet. I asked myself what is he doing? He wrote his answers on two small pieces of paper with very small print. The thing that was amazing was how he hid it. He has one of those Bic pens. You know the ones you can see through. Well what he did is he took off the cap of the pen and actually put the cheat sheet in the pen.


One thought on “The Creativity of College Cheating

  1. Hey I might actually make it through school once again with these great tips if I ever decide to go back. I didn’t know any of those when I was in school. It sure would have helped. I think I was too scared to cheat. Seriously I should have.

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