Fast technological development and the widespread adoption of e-learning have made things even worse. While educational institutions 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 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 proctoring 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 assistance during important assessments.
The process of online proctored exams is quite similar to conventional class-based tests. Before commencing the assessment, students have to pass the 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 activity, the proctoring software will flag it and, depending on the type of software, either alert the human proctor or make a report for further examination. Moreover, apart from detecting dishonesty in real time, online proctoring involves recording all the data, thus allowing for the 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 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 remote 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 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 methods of cheating, which will help you eliminate student dishonesty on online exams.
10 Clever Ways Students Cheat on Online Proctored Exams & How to Prevent Them
This is one of the most common types of misconduct. It implies that students ask 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 the first case, 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 technology
Modern 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 the 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 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 important information.
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 machine
This 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 virtual machine 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 projector
Many 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’ tricks
Although old cheating techniques (like hidden notes 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 exams.
Old school tricks won’t be a problem for either automated or live remote proctored exams. AI-based 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 friends
When 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 cheating using innovative proctoring technologies.
7. Search for the answers online
Students 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 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 breaks
Students 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 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 content
This 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 answers
Some students who are savvy at programming and coding can cheat by hacking the correct answers to the multiple-choice question. They run the test in special 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 cheating is to use enhanced features that can detect on-screen activities.
Academic 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.
What is cheating?
Academic cheating is a form of dishonest behavior that provides students with an unfair advantage. It can appear in various forms such as plagiarism, falsification of documents, impersonation, etc. Academic infidelity is a serious problem that poses a threat to the entire goal of education.
How do online exams prevent cheating?
Many various online proctoring solutions help educational institutions protect the integrity of online exams. They are usually divided into three types (live remote, recorded, and AI proctoring) and come with a wide range of customizable features such as audio/video proctoring, content protection, face recognition, etc.
Can proctored exams detect phones?
AI-based proctoring software can detect extra devices such as phones, tablets, smartwatches, etc. It monitors the examination process in real time and flags any suspicious noises and activities in the testing area.
Can you cheat on a Zoom proctored exam?
It’s difficult to maintain the integrity of online exams. Students come up with new original ways to overpass proctoring software. Zoom proctored tests usually involve a live human proctor who monitors the examination process through a student’s web camera and microphone, making it more difficult for test-takers to cheat.
Can you cheat on a video-proctored exam?
Video proctoring is among the most common features used to prevent cheating on online exams. Depending on the type of remote proctoring solution, students can be monitored either by a live human proctor or AI-based software that can flag any suspicious student activities.
How does a blocking browser detect cheating?
A blocking browser uses the device’s web camera and microphone to monitor the examination process and spot any undesirable activities. This type of proctoring usually restricts a great number of on-screen activities and prevents students from surfing information on the internet.
What to do if you get caught cheating on proctored online tests?
As a rule, when flagging suspicious student activities, proctoring software alerts a human proctor or creates a report for further review. If you are caught cheating during an online test, you may first be warned. In this case, it’s better to continue the exam without cheating. However, it’s better to avoid acting unethically in general since academic dishonesty can lead to more serious consequences such as decreased grades, suspension, expulsion, stained academic and professional reputation, and more.