How Students Cheat


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Cheating comes in many forms. According to RIT's Student Academic Integrity Policy:

Cheating is any form of fraudulent or deceptive academic act, including falsification of data, possessing, providing, or using unapproved materials, sources, or tools for a project, exam, or body of work submitted for faculty evaluation.[1]

Methods students use to cheat can range from low-tech solutions such as copying from a neighbor's test to more high-tech methods involving innovative uses of available technologies. For instance, a student might try to store notes on a calculator, lookup answers on a smartphone, or listen to prerecorded solutions on an MP3 player. As new technologies become available (e.g. smartwatches) so do the potential tools students can manipulate to their advantage.

A quick internet search for methods of cheating will reveal a wide range of resources, how-to guides, and demonstrational videos that show students how to cheat on exams and class assignments. Being aware of some of the tools and techniques that exist is important for faculty when designing and evaluating class assignments.

Article Spinning

Originally designed as a technique for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), article spinning involves changing the writing of an article just enough to hide the fact that the content was copied from another work. This is usually accomplished by replacing words with synonyms or related terms. Another form of article spinning involves piecing together an article from multiple articles on the same topic.

While article spinning can be done manually, there are also many online tools that will "spin" an article on the writer's behalf. The result is typically a poorly written document that still needs to be edited by the paper's author.

Essay Banks and Paper Mills

Essay banks and paper mills give students the option of purchasing completed papers for class assignments. The exact service provided can vary. Essay banks typically resell prewritten papers on specific topics. In contrast, paper mills give students the option of having a unique paper crafted based on individual assignment criteria. Customers need to provide the site with general information such as a topic, due date, and article length so that a new, original work can be created. The higher the quality of the fraudulent work (and thus less likelihood of being caught), the more expensive the service.

Further Reading


[1] Rochester Institute of Technology. (2013, March 16). Student academic integrity policy. Retrieved from University Policies website: