7 creative ways students cheat in online proctored exams & how to stop them

Introduction

Cheating in exams has always been a major concern, even before the major shift to online proctored exams. According to a study done in 2007, 60.8% of college students involved admitted to cheating while a whooping 95% not getting caught! Heartbreaking! Right? Another article also revealed that even renowned institutions such as Harvard and Yale turn out to be fragile when it came to academic integrity. This is just but a tip of the iceberg when exploring insights on academic infidelity.

Back in 2020, things took a turn for the worst as many institutions struggled to move online to respond to the pandemic. Coupled with the common misconception that cheating in online exams is easier than traditional exams, everything became catastrophic. 

However, this is not a true reflection of cheating in online exams. Is cheating in online exams easy as the students perceive it to be? No, but it’s possible. Just like traditional exams, it has some loopholes that students can exploit for academic gains. Some of these loopholes include access to the internet, using advanced gadgets, and impersonation. But, these loopholes can be eliminated using the right online assessment tools and strategies.

This blog post, therefore, aims to accomplish the following;

  • Eliminate common misconceptions about cheating in online exams
  • Reveal how students cheat in online proctored tests
  • Provide you with tips and ideas on how to stop them

However, before going forward, let’s define cheating and look at some misconceptions about cheating in online exams.

What is cheating?

Cheating refers to actual, intended, or attempted deception and/or dishonesty in relation to academic or corporate assessments.

Cheating In Online Exams; Misconceptions Vs Reality

Here is a simple infographic to demonstrate the common misconceptions on cheating in online exams. 

Cheating-in-online-exams-Misconceptions-Vs-Reality

Cheating-in-online-exams-Misconceptions-Vs-Reality

Now let’s see how far students are willing to go to get that A!

7 creative ways students cheat in online proctored exams & how to stop them

Impersonation

Impersonation refers to the act of asking or hiring someone else to take an exam on your behalf. This is not a new trick and has also been used in traditional assessments. In online assessments, the risks are even higher. Impersonation can take place in two stages of the examination delivery process; before and during the assessments. 

Before the assessments, students share their login details with the imposter. The login details vary depending on the software in use. However, some online proctoring software easily makes this impossible by using advanced identification features such as biometrics or facial recognition systems. Impersonation during the exam process can take place in many ways. One trick used by students is providing remote access to their imposters through tools such as virtual machines. This sounds like something pulled out of a spy movie, but you wouldn’t believe what students are willing to do to avoid failure. 

Impersonation is a common act of academic infidelity and can be eliminated by using the following tricks;

How to curb impersonation in online proctored exams

  • Using authentication technologies such as biometric systems and two-factor authentication to verify registered candidates
  • Use online assessment software with the AI-flagging feature. AI flagging feature enables instructors to spot and act on suspicious activities in exam video and audio recordings. Some suspicious behavior includes extra audio voices and unusual body language.
  • Use software such as BioSig-ID which uses keystroke analysis to identify metrics such as typing patterns, style, rhythm, and pressure. These are then used to create a unique persona that is almost impossible to replicate. 

The ‘Old school’ 

The ‘old school’ is popular in traditional exams. It includes tricks such as writing the notes in your palms or sticky notes and using sign language to communicate with classmates. Many institutions make a mistake of assuming that these tricks cannot be used in online exams. However, these tricks can be used in online proctored exams , and their effectiveness will shock you.

How to deal with the ‘old-school tricks’

Most of the old-school tricks of cheating can be eliminated from online exams by simply using AI to analyze suspicious body language. For instance, using Assess’ AI-flagging feature can help you track eye movement and flag down unusual patterns.

Using advanced tech gadgets and software 

The advancement of technology has turned some students into ‘James Bond’ types of cheaters. They rely on sophisticated tech gadgets and software to cheat in online proctored exams. Here are some creative ways students use software and technology to try and outwit the system;

 Tech gadgets such as smartwatches and microphones– These devices enable students to communicate about the exam with people from the outside. Smartwatches can also be used to store answers to the tests. 

Using remote software– This is one of the most popular ways of cheating in online assessments. Students install remote software to connect them with help from the outside. Some even use web versions of applications such as WhatsApp to cheat in exams. 

Projectors or cameras– This is another way students can cheat in online proctored exams. Students may set up cameras on their desks and have their family or friends project the answers in front of them.

 Screen Mirroring– Using certain tools, students can grant monitor access to friends and family in the room, who can help them with the test. 

How to stop the ‘tech-savvy’ students from cheating

  • Use lock-down browser to stop the student from surfing the web or using any software, apart from taking the exam.
  • Use AI flagging to recognize and act on suspicious behavior
  • Collaborate with a remote proctoring provider that offers audio and video proctoring services. You can also add a human proctor to the equation to increase assessment security. This will help you get hold of students using ‘advanced tech’ to cheat in the exams.

Abetting cheating

Abetting cheating can be referred to as the ‘charity’ of academic infidelity. This is popular in traditional exams where students share exam questions with others who have not taken the exam yet. In online exams, abetting cheating is not popular, but it’s possible. Candidates may take screenshots or use cameras to record questions and share them with others.

How to curb abetting testing

Use Assesses lockdown browser functionality to eliminate the ability to take screenshots or other ways students can share the questions with others. The AI flagging feature we discussed earlier also comes in handy in this case, flagging any such activity as cheating. This is because helping other students cheat is cheating. 

If you are interested in reading more about digital assessment security, feel free to read this article on digital assessment security

The ‘Water or Bathroom’ break

We have all seen this in action. A student pretends to have a ‘bathroom emergency’ or ‘bad connection’ and the first thing they do after logging off the system is getting access to a device or textbook to cheat. To achieve high standards of academic integrity, it’s important for institutions not to take chances. 

How to deal with the ‘Water or Bathroom Break’

This is a tricky one, as there is no knowing when the excuses are genuine or not. However, the institutions should try to come up with strict examination policies for such circumstances. For instance, the time for bathroom breaks should be limited. 

Help from family, experts, and friends

This is a method that many students consider ‘safe’. There are several ways family, experts, and friends can help students cheat in online proctored assessments. One way is having a family member or friend in the same room a student is taking the exam. The student can share the questions and the friend or family member can browse the internet and provide answers. 

Another way students can cheat is through ‘expert tutors’. Students can hire tutors to help them with the exams or take them on their behalf. In fact, there has been an increased demand for online academic tutors. 

How to stop students from getting external help

  • Tighten up your authentication process by using technologies such as biometrics systems and two-factor authentication. This prevents students from receiving external help from experts.
  • Utilize lockdown browser to make sure that students don’t have access to remote software or have the freedom to surf the internet. 
  • Use AI flagging to make sure that the candidates don’t display suspicious behavior. 

The Internet and the students’ system

Doesn’t access to a computer and the internet provide students with endless opportunities to cheat in online proctored tests? Yes and no. Some students are smart enough to circumnavigate through the few whitelisted web pages and software to cheat in online exams. Some even use keyword shortcuts to copy answers in web browsers or use resources saved in the computers. 

How to stop students from using the internet during an exam.

Use Assess’s lockdown browser function to stop students from accessing other websites or resources on personal devices. 

Conclusion

These are the popular ways in which students cheat in online proctored assessments. However, these tricks and hacks should not scare you from reaping the benefits of online assessments. In fact, by using the solutions suggested in this article, we believe you can reduce the risks of cheating and achieve high standards of academic integrity. 

Do you know of any creative ways students cheat in online exams? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section. 

Ready to eliminate cheating in your online proctored exams? Contact us today and get a free consultation!

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N. M.Stephens

N.M.Stephens is a former software developer. These days, he is committed to helping Tech Startups and SMEs share their innovations with the world through humane content marketing.