How to Prevent Students from Cheating

Teachers owe it to their students to create an environment in which cheating is discouraged and very difficult. It is not fair to dangle temptation in front of children in these days of high-pressure academics. By taking steps to prevent cheating you can help your students grow into responsible and knowledgeable adults. Students will go to tremendous lengths to cheat in school and with the new technologies available, the possibilities are endlessly expanding. The more a teacher knows about the methods being used, the more effectively the teacher can set up the classroom to prevent students from being tempted to cheat. This article is just a rough outline. Please hit the edit button and enter new steps full of information about methods which have worked for you!


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    Watch the students carefully during testing. Do not leave the classroom during test administration. You may think your students are honest, but if you live in the US, chances are your students are cheating at the same high rate at which students are cheating nationally.
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    Limit electronics in your classroom. Just do not allow children to bring cell phones and MP3 players into class with them on test days. This will eliminate many of the newer methods being used.
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    Do not allow children to bring labeled water bottles in with them, as a common trick is to write answers on the inside of the label and to re glue it to the bottle.
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    Understand the methods which children use to cheat. wikiHow has an entire category on cheating and happens to be a very good source of this cheating information, as children are constantly creating and editing the cheating articles here to include their latest tricks. Keep these wikiHows on your watch list, read them often and you will have the most up-to-date information available.
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    Give open book tests or allow them to bring a cheat sheet. This way, the children don't necessarily need to "memorize all the information", but this will not necessarily help them if your questions are thoughtfully constructed. Eventually your students will learn that having the material at the their fingertips is of no use to them unless they have already spent time studying the material.
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    If you are giving a test or quiz on a day when there will be a sub, create two versions. Leave directions to have every other row get one version (rows 1, 3, 5) and the other rows get a different version (rows 2, 4, 6). This will allow you to catch cheaters who will have all the correct answers and work, but to the other version of the test.
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    Photocopy a random sample of exams before returning them to students. A very common way of cheating is submitting a modified exam for a regrade, and this can often happen with students very close to the next grade up who hope to potentially raise a B- grade to a B, for example. Accept all regrade requests by asking students to attach a written statement about what was wrong rather than having them physically point them out to you so that you have a written record that the student voluntarily submitted the exam for a regrade. Do not begin regrading until after your specified deadline (make it roughly 1 week after you have returned the exam), and then before starting the regrading, compare entire exams (changing an incorrect answer that was mistakenly marked as correct to a correct answer is also cheating) to the photocopies you have. If you have even the slightest feeling that student's exam has been tampered with but you don't have a photocopy this time, make a note to photocopy all of that student's subsequent exams before returning them. Don't show any suspicion towards the student, as if they are actually tampering with their exam you will catch them on the second attempt. Should you catch a student modifying an exam and submitting it for a regrade, the photocopy becomes hard evidence when you report the case for academic action.
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    For short answer exams, draw a tight box around the response or draw a line across any blank space while grading. This prevents students from trying to add to their answer before requesting a regrade.
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    For scantron exams, using pen, draw lines connecting the filled in answer choices before returning the scantron sheets to students. It is like playing "connect the dots" but it will prevent students from changing their answer and saying that the machine made a mistake.
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    Do not accept any homework submitted after solutions have been released, no matter how good the reason. Once solutions are released you have no control over where they can end up, and the copying of solutions is definitely a possibility for any homework attempted to be submitted after that time. To make up for this strict policy, you can choose to drop the one or two lowest homework scores.
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    Make homework count for only a small portion of the grade, and exams for a much larger portion. Making homework count for only roughly 10% of the grade is typically enough to ensure that the students do the assignments. In addition, if you grade the assignments based more on effort than accuracy, this will provide students with little incentive to cheating on homework. Most cheating on homework is in the form of excessive collaboration or searching for answers on the internet. If you use this type of weighting and thoughtfully construct your exams, the exams will enforce the no cheating policy for homework better than you can. The students who choose to cheat will likely have their grades lowered as a result of poor performance on exams, as those who are too used to being able to freely collaborate or use the internet may have a hard time with individual assessments.
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    Require students to show a student ID either when entering the exam room or when collecting the exam. Require them to physically hand you the ID so you can tell if it is authentic or not. Check this against your class roster. Plan to not permit entry into the exam room or not grade an exam if the student does not appear on your roster, the student does not have an ID with them, or the student has a false ID.
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    Do not give credit for an answer on an exam that just magically appeared. Require that students show all of their work and/or provide reasoning for the answer they arrived at. It is very easy to simply copy a final answer off of another student on an exam. In addition, if a student is not showing quite a few crucial steps in their work, that can also be a sign that their answer was copied.
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    If you suspect a student copied off of another student for an exam question, ask them to reproduce or interpret their solution individually in your presence a few days later. If there is a large difference in their ability to produce that solution during the exam and reproduce the solution individually in your presence, cheating may have occurred. If the student cannot walk you through their approach while being shown the solution they provided, that is definitely a sign that the student may have copied their answer from another student.
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    Allow students to use only blue books that you provide. That way, you can make sure that they are taking an exam with a clean blue book.
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    If you believe a student's eyes are wandering too much, re-seat them. If they choose to comply, take no action. If they are unwilling to comply, you can assume that they were cheating or had the intention of cheating.
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    Sometimes an honor code works. If your honor code states that students are not only obligated to not cheat, but also that they are obligated to report any cheating they suspect, this sometimes works well. On assignments and exams, you can require that they sign an honor pledge stating that they did not cheat, nor did they not report any cheating they noticed. You may choose to not grade an assignment or exam which the honor pledge is not signed.


  • At a highly ranked high school in Chapel Hill, NC, the master key is believed to have been passed down from one graduating class to another for a number of years before the trespassing students were finally observed when school security camera tapes were reviewed.
  • Students in various states have managed to get a master key for doors in school buildings and have been able to enter the school on numerous occasions. They may prowl about and copy test materials or photograph them with their cell phones.
  • Students may leave tests and answers apparently undisturbed, as they cleverly make copies.
  • The higher ranked your school and the smarter your students, the worse the problem is.
  • Allow only one student to leave the room at a time and have students empty their pockets before going to the restroom. Ensure that electronics especially do not leave the room.
  • Create a seating chart documenting who sat where. Compare answers of those sitting close to each other for similarity during grading.
  • Have an honor code stating that not only do students have the obligation to not cheat, but also the obligation to report any cheating they see. Have students sign a statement on each exam saying that they had stuck by the honor code.
  • When photocopying a sample of exams before returning them, focus especially on those with scores near the grade boundaries. Those people may be the most tempted to modify their exams and submit them for a regrade, hoping for example that an extra 5 or so points will raise their grade from a B- to a B.
  • Make regrade request deadlines relatively soon after the assignment or exam was returned (1 week should be plenty of time). Make the deadline the same for everybody, regardless of whether they picked the assignment or exam up before your set deadline. This way, once the semester ends, you are not pressured to look for evidence of cheating from a large pool of assignments returned months ago as people, especially those near the course grade boundaries, may want to make attempts to seek extra points to raise their course grades.
  • Make homework a lower percentage of the grade and give points mostly on effort. That way there is little incentive for copying solutions and not very much energy needs to be put into policing this. Make exams, which are individual assessments, a much more significant part of the grade.
  • Make it clear on your syllabus the consequences if a student is found guilty of cheating, and that an expunged record does not equate to a clean record. In addition, depending on your student body, you may wish to also include any consequences on their future life. For example, if your class consists of mostly pre-med students, you may include how AMCAS (the medical school application service) has a question requiring full disclosure of all academic offenses.
  • Be aware that students have been using microphones and ear pieces for decades, even though there were no cell phones then.
  • If you bust some ingenious and novel type of cheating with your students, do not post the specifics here as students will find it by just following the link from the main page on cheating, while other teachers might not know about it.


  • After final exams, students near the course grade boundaries will especially want to find ways (some of them including cheating) to potentially raise their course grade (go from a B- to a B for example). Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of cheating, such as submitting modified exams for regrades, especially from those students. You can save yourself a lot of effort by making deadlines relatively soon after assignments and exams are returned to the class.
  • Never leave your keys hanging in the door even for one minute.
  • Do not assume that tests and answer guides left at school will be safe. If you are going to leave such materials at school, be sure to lock them in a file cabinet and keep the key with you at all times.
  • Once the information is in electronic form, it can be "shared" widely for cheating.
  • You can not have "trusted" students who borrow your keys for any reason.
  • Do not trust substitute teachers with test answers or even your keys, as they may even "help" the students purposely or by carelessly leaving them on the desk.
  • Certified teachers may lose credentials for allowing standardized tests to be unsecured, taken, read or "viewed" even by themselves or other teachers or students.
  • Teachers propping outer-doors open so they can get back-in after "just a minute" is very dangerous. Your may even forget, get in your car and drive away.

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Categories: Classroom Management and Student Conduct