Cheating in examinations: how common is it?
Today, I asked a small group of non-Singaporean Asians whether they had ever cheated in an exam. Refreshingly, the gave honest answers. Two out of three confessed that they had, in fact, cheated in an exam. I shall focus on what one of them said.
A Chinese mainlander had not only cheated in an exam, but had done so throughout her academic career at University. Not only had she cheated but she was positively enthusiastic about doing so: "It is SO exciting a feeling!", she gushed several times in the course of her account. She was thrilled to cheat.
She told of how, in her first year exams at University, "everybody cheated". Bizarrely, their cheating was a co-ordinated effort: they had devised a method of doing so that was moderately discreet (which I won't share, lest I provoke cheating by some of my readers!) - and ALL of them used the same method. One would have thought that the invigilators would have noticed that everyone in the room was wearing special clothes...but no, they didn't.
The following year, their cheating methods evolved. It involved an object which all had on their desks and which the rules of the exam did not expressly forbid from being brought in. However, this object was not what it seemed and it had been doctored to contain a lot of written information. Again, the whole year cheated in this way - and again, it was not noticed, despite the fact that everyone in the room had one of these objects on their desk.
Indeed, having listened to her account, the strangest thing of it is that no-one appeared to notice what they were doing. Perhaps, then, this is only an appearance and the academic staff are well aware of what is going on, but simply don't care.
"Why do you cheat?", I asked her with a judgement free tone.
"Because we have no choice."
"Why no choice?"
"Because if we fail, we would have to do the year again and pay the fees again and it is very expensive. Sometimes we won't be able to graduate."
So it was all about ensuring a pass, no matter what the method. Dishearteningly, she claimed that everyone in her year, at University in China was cheating. So, in that sense, every degree won, was falsely obtained. It makes me wonder, therefore, at the true level of skill - or lack thereof of all these students, when all of them felt that they had to cheat. Perhaps China's academic supremacy is a mirage of sorts - perhaps they are not as good as one might suppose.
In my experience, no one of any real talent needs either to cheat, or feels a need to do so. They know that their gift will take them through. These Chinese students didn't feel that - which leads me to question their talent.
It was sobering to watch her describe her experiences of cheating. Firstly, there was such detail in her accounts of the methods used that it was clear that she was telling the truth in having direct personal experience of the situation. Secondly, her enthusiasm for cheating was such that it was clear to me she would cheat in any and all situations in life, in which there was opportunity for gain and risk of being caught. She was a thrill seeker, and risk taker of the rule breaking kind. It gave her a "rush" to flirt with the danger of being caught doing something she shouldn't. It struck me that that kind of mind is not far from being a criminal by choice.
I have heard many accounts that cheating is common in China - but I hadn't known, until this conversation, that, in the view of these students, at least, that "everyone does it". How common is cheating in examinations in your culture or society, wherever you are? Is it an isolated problem or does it occur en masse? Comments please.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.
This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)