Education

This Mass. company looked at more than 60,000 online exams to learn more about cheating

It found that most students complete their exams honestly.

Six percent of students who took Examity tests cheated.

Many of us know the feeling: You’re part-way through a test and get to a question where two answer choices seem equally plausible. You stare up at the ceiling as if the right answer will drop into your brain, all the while hearing your neighbor confidently filling in bubbles on an answer sheet.

Do you sneak a peak to see what he or she filled in, or do you guess and move on?

A Massachusetts-based company called Examity, which offers remote test proctoring services, analyzed 62,534 online final exams given last fall to learn more about cheating patterns. Even though research has shown that more than two-thirds of students admit to cheating during their college years, Examity found that most students were honest when taking their online college final exams. The company found that 3,952 students, or six percent, cheated.

Most of the cheating happened in predictable ways. One-fifth of cheaters used cheat sheets, while smaller percentages used Google to search for answers, copied test questions to give out to others, hid flashcards underneath their keyboards or hung answers on the walls.

It’s worth noting that Examity proctors monitor students through a webcam, which could discourage some potential cheaters. But the analysis did find some bolder, more desperate attempts. In one case, the test-taker’s mom hid under the desk to communicate answers. In another, someone just outside the room tried to cough Morse code answers.

More students are enrolling in online courses, but a test-taker who faked a coughing fit, and, during the process, spit up a cheat sheet lodged in the back of his throat, proves that some students will still take part in hack jobs during desperate times.

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