Online Exam Cheating - Top 10 Innovative Strategies Employed by StudentsAcademic cheating has always been among the major problems in the educational sphere. A study conducted by Dr. Donald McCabe has indicated that 95% of students admitted to cheating in some form, whether during online tests or homework assignments.
Fast technological development and the widespread adoption of e-learning have made things even worse. While educational institutions and test centers try to adjust to the new studying reality, implementing various remote proctoring solutions, students use their uncertainty and lack of experience to find loopholes and receive better grades without putting in much time and effort. In this article, we will explore the 10 most common ways of cheating on online proctored exams and provide you with useful tips on how to prevent academic misconduct in the digital environment.
What Is a Proctored Exam and How Does It Work?A proctored exam implies that test takers are monitored by an invigilator throughout the entire examination process. In contrast to traditional proctoring exams, which are usually overseen by a human observer, the integrity of online tests can be ensured by a remote human proctor or special AI-based proctored software. Apart from protecting academic integrity, educators implement various proctoring techniques to prevent students from misconduct, ensure the safety of testing materials, establish a fair learning environment, and provide test-takers with necessary academic assistance during important assessments.
The process of proctored online exams is quite similar to conventional class-based tests. Before commencing the assessment, students have to pass usually a two factor authentication process and verify their identity. Thus, they are usually asked to enable their web cameras and provide a photo or a scan of their ID, and the system will cross-check information from two different sources. Once a student’s identity is successfully verified and required equipment is checked, they can proceed to the test. If test-takers try to engage in any suspicious behavior, the proctor software will flag it and, depending on the type of computer program, either alert the human proctor or make a report for further examination. Moreover, apart from detecting dishonesty in real time, online class proctoring involves recording all the data, thus allowing for the proctoring review of exam cases if there are any disputable situations.
Online proctoring software can include a wide variety of features. The most common ones include but are not limited to:
- Audio and video feeds recording
- Facial recognition
- Authentication and verification
- Blocking browser
- Examination content protection
- Noise detection
Can You Cheat on a Proctored Exam?Technologies have played a crucial role in the adoption of online learning. They have helped both students and academic institutions realize the flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of online education. However, just as with everything, technological development has had some negative effects. The internet and other cutting-edge solutions have increased the accessibility of information, thus making it much easier for students to cheat. While educators are trying to work out and employ new strategies to maintain integrity in the digital environment, students are coming up with new sophisticated exam cheating techniques.
According to Sun Tzu’s famous quote, it’s important to “know your enemy” to defeat them. So, let’s have a closer look at the most common and original technical methods of proctored exam computer cheating, which will help you eliminate student dishonesty on online exams.
10 Clever Ways Students Cheat on Online Proctored Exams & How to Prevent Them
1. ImpersonationThis is one of the most common types of misconduct. It implies that students cheat on a proctored online exam by asking someone else to take an exam on their behalf. Impersonation is usually committed either before or in the middle of an online examination session. In such a situation, students try to find ways to swap places with someone else before the authentication. For example, they may alter their identification documents or share exam logins. Other students decide to verify their identity themselves and only then give way to an impersonator. This scenario is also widespread since the majority of online proctoring systems conduct authentication and verification only before an exam, and thus can not deter this type of dishonesty.
One solution to prevent impersonation is to improve the authentication mechanism, making it more dynamic and elaborate. It’s possible to implement two- or three-factor authentication:
- Verified ID;
- Facial recognition by comparing pictures from the web camera and a scan of the authentication document;
- Asking students to insert a one-time password sent to their previously registered cell phone.
What’s more, it’s advised to use AI-based proctoring software that can detect suspicious noises, other devices, and unusual body language.
2. Advanced tech gadgets and technologyModern cheaters don’t usually write formulas on their palms or try to look up the answers in course books. Numerous gadgets and technologies help them to find complete answers during online assessments. Here are some of them:
- Screen sharing. Screen-sharing software such as Zoom, Google Meet, and others allow students to show their screen with the exam questions to helpers and collaborate with them in real time to find the correct calculated answers.
- Using other devices. Students can use their mobile phones, smartwatches, and other devices to look for information on the internet, chat with helpers in messengers, or store data.
It may seem rather challenging to prevent students from using technologies in the digital era. However, the solution is simple: implement cutting-edge technologies in return. It’s recommended to adopt proctoring software that ensures:
- a secure exam browser;
- noise detection;
- tabs switching detection;
- advanced audio and video proctoring;
- AI data analysis.
3. Using a virtual machineThis is an original, thus not so common way of cheating, since it requires certain technical skills. A virtual machine is an environment that functions as a computer. While proctoring software monitors the main operating system (OS) of the device, some students enable a undetectable virtual machines as an extra OS to search for the answers to the test question.
To eliminate this type of cheating, educational institutions are advised to opt for automated and AI-based proctoring, since these technologies are more efficient at detecting suspicious student behavior, extra noises (like typing), etc.
4. Using an external projectorMany students know that remote proctoring software usually blocks many on-screen activities. Thus, they decide to opt for mirroring their desktop screen to an external display or projector so a helper can see the test content and signal them the right answers.
This type of cheating can be detected by an AI-based proctoring solution, which can spot the unusual body language of a test-taker and deter other people in the room via video recording.
5. The ‘old school’ tricksAlthough old cheating techniques (like hidden cheat sheets or writing on the palm) are becoming significantly less common, they still exist. However, it’s worth noting that they don’t represent any significant threat to the integrity of online proctored tests.
Old school tricks won’t be a problem for either automated or live remotely proctored exams. AI-based proctor software can easily detect suspicious student movements or noises, while a live remote proctor can spot this form of dishonesty by monitoring the video and audio feed.
6. Help from family, experts, and friendsWhen taking exams from home, it’s much easier to get help from friends and relatives. They can stay in the same room with the examinee, see the questions and look for the answers on the Internet. Moreover, many dishonest test-takers try to mirror their desktop screen or use screen-sharing applications to show the test content to their helpers.
However, it’s not complicated to combat this form of academic exam cheating using innovative proctoring technologies.
7. Search for the answers onlineStudents take online proctored exams from their desktop computer, laptop, or other devices that have access to the internet. Apart from allowing for studying in a comfortable and academic stress-free environment, the internet can help students find the answers to examination questions.
Fortunately, this type of dishonesty can be easily detected and eliminated if the proctoring solution has the feature of a blocking browser. However, to prevent students from using extra devices (mobile phones, smartwatches, etc.) to surf the internet, it’s recommended to opt for AI-based proctoring that can detect suspicious body movements and undesirable objects around test-takers. Moreover, to eliminate the use of cell phones for googling information and providing a better view of the testing environment, some proctoring solutions ask test-takers to connect their mobile camera as an extra monitoring tool.
8. Bathroom breaksStudents can use the excuse of a poor internet connection or needing a bathroom break as a chance to open their notes, call friends, or ask family members for help. What is tricky about this type of dishonesty is that it’s not always obvious if the excuse is genuine or fake.
To eliminate exam cheating during breaks, it’s advised to limit them or inform students in advance that they must stay on camera during the entire exam without any interruptions, even for a bathroom emergency.
9. Sharing of test contentThis type of academic infidelity is popular during both offline and online exams. Students take photos or screenshots of the examination content and share them with friends who are going to take the test in the future.
The solution is to opt for proctoring software that can protect exam content from sharing and copying, for example by offering the functionality of a blocking browser.
10. Hacking the correct answersSome students who are savvy at programming and coding can cheat on an online test by hacking the correct answers to the multiple-choice question. They run the test in special answer hacking software that presents the exam content as code and identifies the correct answers since they consist of 1s and 0s while the rest includes coding text.
The optimal solution to prevent this form of proctored exam computer cheating is to use enhanced features that can detect on-screen activities.
Unraveling the Impact of Cheating in Online Proctored ExamsCheating in online proctored exams has far-reaching implications that radiate far beyond the immediate test results. To fully comprehend the gravity of this issue, let's delve into the multifaceted impacts of attempting to cheat on a proctored exam.
1. Erosion of Academic Honesty. Academic integrity forms the bedrock of an educational institution's reputation. Students who cheat on a proctored exam compromise this vital tenet, casting a shadow over the institution's credibility and the legitimacy of its qualifications. Further, habitual cheaters can skew grading curves, thereby impacting honest students' performance and potential.
2. Devaluation of Learning. The act of cheating belittles the very essence of education, which is acquiring knowledge and skills. Online cheating provides a deceptive shortcut, leaving individuals underprepared for future career challenges. The potential professional setbacks resulting from these gaps in knowledge and abilities are considerable.
3. Weakening Personal Ethics. On a personal level, online proctored exam cheating may trigger a gradual decay of moral and ethical values. Dishonest behavior, once established, can spill over into professional and personal life, fostering a culture of unethical practices with widespread societal repercussions.
4. Threat to Future Prospects. In this digital age, records verification is a breeze for employers and academic institutions. A record tainted by cheating can jeopardize future opportunities such as college admissions, job prospects, and scholarship eligibility. The fleeting gains from cheating on a proctored exam are dwarfed by these potential lifelong consequences.
5. Damage to Institutional Reputation. An educational institution's reputation suffers when instances of cheating come to light. This tarnished image not only undermines the institution's standing within the academic community but can also lead to a decline in student enrollment and consequent financial implications.
Future PredictionsThe future of online proctoring and examination integrity is poised for further development as technology evolves. As AI becomes more sophisticated, the ability to detect and prevent online proctored exam cheating will improve significantly. The trend of remote learning and proctoring, sparked by the recent global health crisis, shows no signs of slowing down. This evolution, however, will inevitably lead to an arms race between cheaters and proctoring technologies.
Proctoring solutions will likely incorporate more advanced detection algorithms, machine learning, and biometric verification methods to ensure academic integrity. On the flip side, there will be a heightened focus on privacy concerns and the psychological comfort of test-takers. As both fields progress, the dynamic balance between cheating prevention and personal privacy will shape the landscape of online proctored exams. In essence, the future is likely to witness a more secure, efficient, and user-friendly approach to proctoring online examinations
ConclusionAcademic dishonesty remains a serious problem in both traditional and remote learning environments. While educators are embracing new technologies to protect the integrity of online exams, students are coming up with new loopholes for cheating. They can surf the internet to find the necessary answers, ask for help from friends and relatives, use smart gadgets, and more.
To eliminate dishonesty on online assessments, academic institutions have to be aware of the methods their students use for cheating. Thus, they will be able to implement remote proctoring solutions that will work most effectively in their case.