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Exam Cheating, Its Causes and Effects


The ability of a nation to compete effectively on the international front hinges on the quality of its education. With this in mind, it is okay to conclude that cheating in exams undermines the standard of education in a country and consequently hinders its ability to compete at the world stage. Indeed, students who cheat in exams become poor decision makers in their careers. Their productivity and level of integrity is adversely dented by their belief of having everything the easy way. Academic dishonesty is not new but with the increase in competition for jobs, most students have resorted to cheating in order to qualify for these jobs (Anderman and Johnston 75). The purpose of this paper is to research in detail the causes and effects of cheating in exams.

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Definition of Cheating

In the education fraternity, cheating entails: copying from someone, Plagiarizing of academic work and paying someone to do your homework. There are numerous reasons why students cheat in exams however; this action elicits harsh repercussions if one is caught. This may include: suspension, dismissal and/or cancellation of marks (Davis, Grover, Becker and McGregor 16).


One of the major reasons that make students cheat in exams is the over-emphasis that has been placed on passing exams. Apparently, more effort has been directed towards passing of exams than learning due to the high competition in the job market. Similarly, most interviewers focus more on certificates rather than the knowledge of the candidate. It is no wonder most learning institutions these days focus on teaching how to pass an exam and completely disregard impacting knowledge to students.

In some cases, students cheat because they are not confident of their ability or skills in academics. Whenever this feeling is present, students resort to cheating as a way of avoiding ridicule in case of failure. In essence, some of these students are very bright but the fear of failure and the lack of adequate preparations compel them to cheat. The paradox is that when cheating, most students swear that they will never do it again but this only serves as the beginning of a vicious cycle of cheating (Anderman and Johnston 76).

Societal pressure is another major cause for cheating in schools. Parents, teachers and relatives always, with good intentions, mount too much pressure on students to get good grades in order to join good schools and eventually get high paying jobs. All this pressure creates innate feelings that it is okay to cheat in exams if only to satisfy their parents and teachers egos.

There are times when students justify cheating because others do it. In most cases, if the head of the class is cheating then most of the other students will feel they have enough reason to also cheat. The system of education is such that it does not sufficiently reprimand those who cheat and tends to hail those who pass exams regardless of how they have done—the end justifies the means.

With the advent of the internet, it has become very easy to access information from a website using a phone or a computer. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo have made it very easy for students to buy custom-made papers for their class work. It is very easy for students from all over the world to have the same answer for an assignment as they all use a similar website. Indeed, plagiarism is the order of the day, all on has to do is to have the knowledge to search for the different reports and essays on the net (Davis, Grover, Becker and McGregor 18).

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Nowadays, most tutors spend most of their class time giving lectures. In fact, it is considered old fashioned to give assignments during class time. Consequently, these assignments are piled up and given during certain durations of the semester. This poses a big challenge to students who have to strike a balance between attending to their homework and having fun. As a result, the workload becomes too much such that it is easier to pay for it to be done than actually do it—homework then becomes as demanding as a full-time job (Jordan 234).


From a tender age, children are taught that cheating is wrong; yet most of them divert from this course as they grow up. In fact, most of them become so addicted to the habit that they feel the need to perfect it. Most often, if a student cheats and never gets caught, he is likely to cheat all his life. Research has shown that students who cheat in high school are twice likely to cheat in college. The bigger problem is that this character is likely to affect one’s career in future consequently tarnishing his/her image.

Cheating in exams poses a great problem in one’s career. To get a good grade as a result of cheating is a misrepresentation of facts. Furthermore, it is difficult for a tutor to isolate students who genuinely need specialized coaching. It becomes a huge embarrassment when a cheating student is expected to give a perfect presentation and fails to demonstrate his ability as indicated by his/her grades. In addition, students who cheat in examination do not get a chance to grasp important concepts in class and are likely to face difficulties in the future when the same principles are applied in higher levels of learning.

The worst-case scenario in cheating in an exam is being caught. Once a student is caught, his reputation is dealt a huge blow. It is likely that such a student will be dismissed or suspended from school. This hinders his/her ability to land a good job or join graduate school. It can also lead to a complete damage of one’s reputation making it hard for others to trust you including those who cheat (Jordan 235).


Cheating in exams and assignments can be attributed to many reasons. To begin with, teaching today concentrates so much on the exams and passing rather than impacting knowledge. Lack of confidence in one’s ability and societal pressure is another reason why cheating is so wide spread. Cheating cannot solely be blamed on the students; lecturers have also played their part in this. Apparently, most lectures concentrate on teaching than giving assignments during class time. This leaves the students with loads of work to cover during their free time.

Technology has also played its part in cheating—many students turn to the internet in a bid to complete their assignments. On the other hand, it is important to note than choices have consequences and the repercussions of cheating in an exams are dire. First, it completely ruins one’s reputation thereby hindering chances of joining college or getting a good job. It also leads to suspensions and/or expulsion from school. Furthermore, the habit is so addictive that it is likely to replicate in all aspects of life—be it relationships, work, business deals etc. It is important to shun this habit as nothing good can come out of it.

Works Cited

Anderman, Erick and Jerome Johnston. “TV News in the Classroom: What are Adolescents Learning?”Journal of Adolescent Research, 13 (1998): 73-100. Print.

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Davis, Stephen, Cathy Grover, Angela, Becker, and Loretta McGregor. “Academic Dishonesty: Prevalence, Determinants, Techniques, and Punishments”. Teaching of Psychology, 19 (1) (1996): 16–20. Print.

Jordan, Augustus E. “College Student Cheating: The Role of Motivation, Perceived Norms, Attitudes, and Knowledge of Institutional Policy. Ethics and Behavior, 11, (2001): 233–247. Print.

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