While students still widely use traditional cheating methods, such as writing algorithms on skin or sneaking looks at notes on the floor, modern technology has taken cheating to unprecedented levels. With cheating at an all time high, students must come up with inventive, new methods to not get caught by their teachers, and gadgets like a mobile phone provide perfect opportunities to cheat without raising suspicion.
“A lot of people use their phones to cheat…people will take pictures of the test when the teacher isn’t looking, and then send them to their friends in other classes who haven’t taken the test yet,” sophomore Nathan Lee said.
Some teachers on campus, like math teacher Yvonne Fleury, now ask students to leave their phones at the front of the classroom prior to a test, in attempts to suspend potential cheating.
“With math it becomes a little more challenging…it’s not like copying an essay. If you look at two essays that are exactly the same, they obviously cheated. Whereas, if two math problems are solved in the exact same way with the same answer, you can’t really tell if they cheated or not,” Joanne Ryan, math department chair, said.
Even more recently, students will wear a sixth generation iPod Nano as a watch and read stored notes on the device. Students have also been known to slide an earbud up the sleeve of a sweatshirt, and then later lean on their arm and listen to audio recordings of notes through the hidden earbud. Not even a math calculator is safe, as the TI graphing calculators have grown so technologically advanced that students are able to save notes onto them and look over them during quizzes.
“Cheating has become so much more tempting with modern technology and all the ways you can use it,” a student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said. “While it’s not morally correct, it has become so easy to cheat and the temptation is definitely there.”
Although smartphones and other devices have become more and more prominent with cheaters, not all cheating methods are technology driven.
Blue book swapping has become an increasingly popular way to cheat on essays. Students prewrite their essays in a blue book, and in class, write a fake essay in the blue book given by their teacher. Later, when the time comes to turn in the essay, student will switch the bluebooks so that they turn in their prewritten essay.
Additionally, students have been known to hide cheat sheets in classroom drawers or cabinets, and while taking exams, slip out the hidden sheet to check their answers. Stealing copies of tests out of faculty offices is also not unknown.
On the Harvard Westlake campus in 2012, administrators expelled two sophomores who cheated on multiple exams by employing a tapping system; the first set of taps indicated the question number, and after a pause, the second set of taps indicated the letter: one tap for A, two for B, and so on. The two had used this tapping method for months before teachers finally caught them.
The most common method of cheating, however, is also the least well-known. Cheating by word of mouth is extraordinarily typical among students. However, most do not consider talking as cheating; discussions of quizzes and tests lead to comments regarding areas to focus on or the exam’s level of difficulty. Despite pleas from teachers to not discuss the contents of quizzes and essays, students fly through such topics without concern if they are cheating or not.
This is the result of the mundaneness of cheating on campus. Talking about tests and quizzes has become so common that despite the fact that students understand they are cheating, they do not see talking as a culpable form of cheating. Students believe writing definitions or equations on their arms is cheating, but mere talking is not concrete enough to be punishable.
“I think the sad part is that the cheating outbreak has caused people to cheat more often, rather than stop their cheating. It’s been happening as long as I’ve been at Buckley,” junior Maria Lark said. “I thought everyone would just grow out of it, but instead it’s gotten much worse.”