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Grade Smarter

List of ways students cheat on exams using scantrons

The Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University reported that more than 75 percent of college students cheat on exams or school work at least once during their undergraduate careers. One of the critical ways to spot cheating is to know how it happens. We looked at several sites including Reddit for discussions on how students cheat on exams. So, beware of these cheats:

The ringer – the ringer comes into an exam and fills the Scantron™ form. When finished, the ringer gives her test to the enrolled student, and the enrolled student writes his student ID on that answer sheets. The fake exam done by the registered student is discarded or submitted with a wrong student ID.

The eraser – students change his Scantron™answers to correct answers for responses left blank or erase previously bubbled questions to the right answer.

The forger – students forging an entire answer sheet by re-bubbling answers and forging grading marks.

The thief – an entire exam is stolen, and the thief changes the Scantron from another student to his student ID.

The flying V – a group of students sit in a flying V formation. The smartest student sits in front allowing the student sitting in the V formation behind to view and copy the front person’s exam. The tactic works best in large lecture halls.

The wandering eyes – as the name suggests, and probably the most accessible form of cheating, looking for answers to the person next to you.

The communicator – for you Trekkies, using a device to communicate answers to others in the class via cell phone or computer. The cheats can be using text, instant message, Snapchat, or other forms of messaging.

The Pepsi challenge – write notes on the inside label of a cola bottle. Act like you’re taking a drink to expose the notes on the label. When the student puts the Pepsi down, the cola covers the notes. This cheat works with any drink but works best with dark beverages such as Coke™ Pepsi™ or Dr. Pepper™.

The exposure – student puts notes on her upper thighs under a dress. During the exam, the student moves her dress up slightly to view notes. When she stands up, the notes are concealed under her dress.

The crystal nail(s) – this requires good eyesight and a new nail job. The student writes notes on her nail or nails, maybe just a formula, and then puts clear nail polish over the note.

The cap – student puts crib notes on the bill of his baseball cap. Either the student must have a near perfect up-close vision, or the ball cap needs to come off to view the brim.

Have a Coke (no smile needed) – student replaces the ingredients of a Coke label with notes for the exam. It seems that this regular Coke™doesn’t have sugar!

The bathroom break – during the exam, a student asks the instructor to go to the bathroom. All kinds of cheating can happen on the trip. The student can use the “wandering eyes” technique, review crib notes hidden in the bathroom, or talk to a “ringer.”

The decoder – the student types her notes in a programmable calculator. The student accesses the notes by typing in a formula or some other text that makes the notes visible. For example, X + 2Y = my crib notes.

Eat the evidence – the student writes his notes on gum and then eats it after the test.

Not my Clicker – student misses class and gives her clicker to another classmate. During a quiz, the student attending class answer with both clickers. OK, not scantrons.

The heist – student(s) steal the test from the professor’s office before the exam.

The fraternity – fraternities are notorious for maintaining test banks from previous exams. If the faculty member is known for keeping the same test or recycling questions, the student can memorize the answer key or at least study previous questions.

The tights – we read about a student who wore thin tights under her skirt with crib notes written on her leg. To view her cheat sheet, she pulled on her tights, when taunt she could see through them.

The gesture – a variety of hand signals or foot movements between students to signal A, B, C, D, or E.

The Morse coder – students become proficient in a proprietary tapping language to signal test questions and answers.

The grunge rocker – back in the 80’s grunge rockers started wearing ripped jeans; think Kurt Cobain. If you have enough holes, the student can use the rips to expose crib notes on their legs.

The fashionista – for all this effort, you might as well study. We read on Reddit that a student created a dress with Chinese crib notes written into the fabric. Any language other than English would probably do the trick.

We hope this list is useful. Academic integrity is a serious matter. Be familiar with your university’s policies and know what steps are available to you before an incident arises.

Scantron, Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper are the registered trademarks of Scantron Corporation, The Coke-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Inc., and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. respectively.