Most of us have probably cheated on a test or an essay assignment and got away with. However, teachers don’t make it the easiest task to execute a morally ambiguous passing-technique and that’s why students go out of their way to find different methods to pass a test. If only they put the same energy into actually studying, right?
One Reddit user recently asked teachers what were the most creative cheating methods they witnessed, and people (teachers and students alike) delivered! So scroll down below to read their stories and don’t forget to comment and vote for your favorites!
I’m a high school teacher, but this story is about my own high school math teacher playing us and “cheating.”
It was an honors algebra/geometry class, and it was well known that Mr D re-used the same questions every year, just changed the numbers. He made a big deal about making sure we all gave our exam papers back to him after we had looked at our scores and gone over everything together to prevent cheating for the next year.
Well, of course, some of my classmates got their hands on a complete set of tests from the previous year. Soon, everyone had a set. Before each exam, we would sit together and make sure we knew how to solve every problem on that test so we could do it on the real exam with different numbers.
Years later, when I became a teacher myself, I saw Mr D at a funeral. I confessed to him that this is what we used to do. He smirked and said “Who do you think leaked the test packet to get you to study?” Mr D had figured out that kids won’t study if the teacher suggests it, but if they think they’re getting away with something, they totally will, so he managed to get a test packet out and circulating as contraband. Blew my mind.
Not the student but the teacher
So, the teacher, let's call him Mr. A, had a reputation for being a phenomenal teacher who had every student engaged/invested in his class, no matter how mundane the subject. Any time he asked a question, every student's hand would shoot in the air with them shouting things like "call on me!" or "I know the answer!"
Simply, Mr. A developed a reputation in the district as one of its best teachers.
Fast forward a couple years and I'm grabbing coffee with Mr. A and I ask him "what's your trick? How did you get every student bought in?"
His response, "well, I told the kids every time we had a visitor in class, I need you all to raise your hand like I was giving away free candy. BUT if you don't know the answer raise your left hand. If you do know it, raise your right hand, so I know who to call on and we all look good. Worked like a charm."
High school kids recreated a Snapple label where the nutrition panel on the back had all the answers, formulas, etc. only got caught because I’d never seen the flavor before and wanted to see how much sugar was in it.
I was supervising a final chemistry exam along with another coworker. Not 15 minutes in, a hand slams down on a desk and I turn around expecting the worst, only to see my coworker angrily shouting at a pair of really frightened 10th graders whose desk he smashed. Amidst the shouting I caught the words, “Morse code”. The guy proceeded to take them to the office. I called a hallway supervisor to take over and ran after the group.
Apparently, the kids were silently tapping the answers amongst themselves in Morse code. Not even with their fingernails, just their fingertips. I never heard a thing, my coworker happened to catch “B” in Morse code or something. I honestly thought he finally went crazy solely because of his appearance, picture Robin Williams in Jumanji going WHAT YEAR IS IT. I’m 100% sure that if this coworker weren’t in the room, they’d have gotten away with it for sure.
I remember in middle school we would rely on the one kid who actually studied. Most of the quizzes our teachers gave was multiple choice so if the answer was A, the kid would cough, if the answer was B, he would sniffle, if the answer was C, he would sigh and if the answer was D, he would stretch in his seat.
Everyone in my science class was eventually that kid. Every time there was a quiz, a different person in the class would study.
As a student, I remember when my entire year level was accused of cheating, as the test results came back consistently high. What the teachers failed to realise, was that some of the answers were actually hidden in other questions.
So if you got stuck on one question, you could find the answer later on in another question.
An example would be (this was a japanese language test) "What does ___ word mean" and later on, a question would use that word in context, so you would understand what that word meant.
One of my old teachers told us a story about a student who had rigged up a tiny scroll of paper in a wristwatch with notes written on it. He turned the scroll by winding the watch.
He ended up getting caught because he was winding his watch so damn much during the exam, but the teacher loved the creativity.
There was a class that allowed you to bring one sheet of handwritten notes to exams. I knew a guy that created a font of his own handwriting and used to print the entire study guide onto a piece of notebook paper, front and back. He even set the font color to pencil grey and managed to get the margins and spacing exactly right to look like it'd been handwritten.
So, not a teacher, but I witnessed probably the biggest cheating related scandal in our high school's history.
For context, we had the sweetest old guy as our Chem teacher. He called everyone "Bud" or "Buddy" or "Ma'am", he always helped, he volunteered to teach Driver's Ed after school so kids could learn to drive. He always had a twinkle in his eye because he genuinely showed love and kindness to everyone. A side effect of this was that he was very trusting.
So one day, before finals, he ran to the bathroom during class while everyone was wrapping up their lab reports. While he was gone, someone ran to his desk, found the finals just sitting there, snapped a pic, and then ran back to their desk before he got back.
Somehow, no one tattled. Probably because 90% of our grade level in that class was on board with it.
The pictures got texted around, but a few people were smart enough to Bluetooth in to each other so it couldn't be tracked.
Wellllll after the test, everyone had high scores and apparently someone confessed. This resulted in a huuuuuuuge investigation by the assistant principals, school police officer, and faculty. They traced every text message and busted so many people, all except the ones who transferred via Bluetooth.
They had to re-issue the test. Man that was crazy. I felt so bad for the teacher, he was really sad someone had taken advantage of him and I was too. Such a good dude.
Stretch a rubber band around a text book, write whatever you want on it, then when you take it off the textbook, it’ll just look like scribble until you stretch it to see what’s written. Spanish conjugations drove me to do some incredibly unethical things.
I was grading a written assignment that had a 1000 word count minimum and one particular paper just felt really short to me despite word telling me it was roughly 1100 words long. On a hunch I hit CTRL-A and sure enough after the paper concluded there was a lot of white nonsense text on a white background.
College physics, girl with a really intricate tattoo on her leg wrote formulas in between the tattoo lines. Even looking closely you couldn't tell unless you knew what you were looking for. You could tell it was test day because she wore shorts.
During a keyboard harmony lab exam (a room with 28 keyboards), one devious student had previously recorded another student's perfect performance of the exam piece on MIDI .
The cheater played the recorded piece on MIDI, but used all the right hand motions on his keyboard at the back of the room to try to fool me that he was actually playing it in real time.
Unfortunately for him, the student he recorded happened to be my piano student, and I recognized the distinctive playing immediately.
I didn't embarrass him during class by calling him out on it, but dealt with the problem privately - a lesson he told me later that would stay with him for the remainder of his life.
My teacher shared with us a story about how since she allowed eating during her tests, one person pulled out a giant bag of M&Ms and ate a specific color corresponding to A/B/C/D. It was a two student duo and they only got caught when another student ratted them out.
I passed a pop quiz in high school by looking across the room and focusing on the top of the smart girls' pencil and trying to decipher if she wrote A B C or D after the teacher asked each question. It actually turned out more successful than I thought it would.
Also, I'm all about academic integrity when it comes to important higher education when relative to your field of work but I don't understand loading immense amounts of needless information into young, hormonal teenagers and getting upset or surprised that they don't have the mental stamina to deal with it all and would rather cheat
Not sure if this would work anymore, but if I had a paper to write on a book I didn't read I would find a well written paper online. Then translate the entire thing from English to German, German to French, French to Spanish, then Spanish back to English. Pull the original paper and the new one up side by side and clean up the grammar on the new paper and you've got the same concept, but written just different enough to not be plagiarism. Worked like a charm.
My exams that used a graphic calculator (TI-84) required us to show the examiners a “proof of reset” screen before the papers started so instead of actually studying for my papers, I painstakingly redrew the “proof of reset” screen pixel by pixel in the TI-84s pixel art program and stored all my notes in it.
I was a TA for anatomy and physiology. The professor would ask for me to sit in on finals to prevent cheating.
One kid came in with a vitamin water. No worries. Half way through the test the professor noticed they kept turning the bottle and squinting. This goes on for another twenty minutes.
Professor goes up. Grabs the vitamin water bottle and rips off the label. It had a crib sheet written. On the back. The students had gone to the effort to make a fake vitamin water bottle label and write notes in the back.
The professor was impressed by the creativity and decided to give the student a 0 and not report them to the academic committee.
During a spelling test:
"Miss, how do you spell piano?"
The spelling word was piano. Teacher went on autopilot and started spelling the word.
In high school I was in a computer based learning program and our science tests were taken digitally. However, they used a program where once you entered the test your entire screen was locked into the test and the only way to exit it was to click the finish button on the test or turn off your computer which effectively did the same thing. Another feature of the program was that once you were in the test, anything you had in your clipboard (copied text) was not able to be pasted into the answer sections on the test to prevent the only other way to cheat. However, after creating my own classroom at home , making fake tests and playing with the program to figure out a way to cheat I realized that it would allow you to copy things from inside the test and paste them elsewhere in this test. The developers of the program also did not take into account the sign in screen where you have to find the test and enter it.
Long story short, I could copy my entire page of notes I had taken on the test material, paste it into the section where I would enter my login information. Then recopy it, enter the test and paste it again in one of the answer sections, using it to answer every question and then deleting it before clicking 'finish'.
My girlfriend works for a dental exam company which are obviously super high stakes exams. Since the exams are worldwide they have actually found people from one time zone paying people from another time zone to email questions to them right before the exam starts.
A classmate was printing the answers on his paper in a veeeerry pale grey so that it barely can be seen. Still got caught because the teacher noticed him reading an empty sheet.
In elementary/middle school we had to write a paragraph each week featuring all the vocabulary words included in that unit. One clever kid wrote something along these lines:
“One day kid’s name had to write a paragraph for English class. He sat down, picked up a pen and used these words in it: proceeds to list out all the words.”
The teacher only let it go once because she never saw that happen until then.
In a lot of my college courses I wasn't allowed to use anything higher than a TI84. So I took the guts of my TI89 and swapped it into my TI84. Never got caught.
When I was in high school I bought a pen where each time you clicked the message inside would change. I took it apart and was able to tape paper over the tube and fit things that I would need to help me on some quizzes and tests.
I have not tried this method yet and I do not think anyone did but there is a certain level of hertz in sound that only people below a certain age can hear, there are devices who play that kind of sound so if the teacher is old she/he wont hear the sound, using that the students can communicate with morse code and such. I thought about this and this is not very practical or useful but its very creative so i thought sharing my idea.
Used a text file on one of the original iPods. Teacher was fine with "listening to music" during tests. Made my life so much easier lol.
Writing down math formulas and putting them in the instructions insert of the calculator.
More recently, kids will put the answers on their smart watches. It's to the point where I make all students removes their watches and place them on the classroom counter before the test starts.
I can name the worst, and I’ve definitely shared it before, but it wasn’t my student, it was a friend’s.
She’d downloaded a worksheet for the kids to do while she was in a meeting of some sort. Kids found the worksheet’s answer sheet online and proceeded to copy the answers. Last answer said “student responses will vary.” And that’s what one kid wrote as his answer.
Other times you’ll see one kid misspells something or gets an answer wrong, and everyone who copied from him has the same error.
Physics professor posted the answers to the homework online after it was due. Thing was, he was just making the existing pages visible and the URLs followed a simple and predictable format. If you knew the URL you could look at it before it was made public.
http://fakeaddress.physics.edu/physics/HomeWork001 002 003, etc...
I used my programmable calculator to write a program for every possible math/physics question that gave me every step of the problem solving sequence along the way. They always said show your work...
So, as a teacher the smartest way I "cheat" is by giving the kids a notecard and telling them they can put whatever cheat sheet stuff on there they want. It tricks them into actually studying for their math tests.
Also a pro tip from a math teacher; most students don't know how to study for math and this is why they struggle. Think of studying math like practicing an instrument. You need to "learn a piece" by practicing multiple problems from skill set. If you aren't practicing at least 8 - 18 problems at least every day to two days then you're never going to get past the little mistakes and missteps which have probably plagued you.
I'm not a teacher, but i heard a story from my friend of a teacher who caught two kids cheating through morse code by blinking.
When my dad was in high school, he used to write out the answers on a piece of paper and tape them to the ceiling. Before the test, he and his friends would pretend to pray by looking up and putting their hands together. Would also tape the answers next to the pencil sharpener. Teacher never caught on, and thought it was heartwarming how my dad and his friends would pray together before a test.
My sister in law is a teaching assistant at her kids school. Her youngest daughter (My niece) was 7 at the time. She stole the test the night before, pretended it was homework and had her mom "help her with her homework" then sneaked the answers in to the test.
One of the other kids caught her, let the teacher know and my SIL, who was overseeing test conditions, died inside when she realised it was the homework sheet that she'd filled out.
A classmate broke the screen and keyboard of his calculator and hid his cellphone in it, so it couldn't be seen from the teacher's position. The teacher approached him from behind and caught him tho.
I had class in the AM with a kid who was a TA for my physics class the afternoon before (weird period system at my old school). He would tell me the answers to app tests he had graded the day before and I would write them in black ink on the side of the sole of my black boots. I would then sit with my leg bent with my foot on my knee and read the answers during the test. You couldn't see them unless the light hit the ink just right. After the test I would just lick my finger and smudge the answers out.
Not a teacher but here are the methods I used back in the day:
I wrote formulas on those pens that had roll out calendars. Almost got caught when I accidentally lost my grip and the calendar rolled back in the pen in such a loud way that my classmates looked at me.
I also wrote formulas on my clothes and body, the hem of my shirt and the part of my legs that gets covered by a sock.
I put a couple of chapters on the notebook app on the old Blackberry. I did this by hand which involved me copying straight from the book to my phone.
Put answers in the song lyrics in my iPod. But I didn't do this frequently, I forgot why, it was either because my school had cracked down on technology (phones, iPods, laptops) or I just had a hard time scrolling with the click wheel.
We'd straight up swap papers. I think I only did it during Trig because during exams we were arranged alphabetically and I was seated next to this dude who was really good at math. I was afraid of doing this but the fact that we were so close to each other made it less scary so I did it.
The only time I got caught was when this new teacher noticed that I kept taking out my handkerchief which had a 1x1 inch piece of paper that had some formulas. In hindsight, if I pulled a bit of sleight of hand I would've never been caught. The funny thing is, the year before, I cheated on a test with two letter sized papers.
As a student, we used to wear uniforms and leather shoes. As mine's a beater pair, i usually write on them with black ink pens. And when tests came, i angle it just enough to be seen by sunlight. Also, the edges of our uniform(button down shirts) are filled with formulas.
Music students using music sheets as answers sheet for/from other student. Notes equals the same as the answer for Scranton tests
Not a teacher but one of my friends in high school wrote all the physics equations we needed to know in really tiny font on jolly rancher wrappers.
I had summaries of chemistry and a load of math formulas on my graphic calculator (ti-83 ) and i had a backup on a thumb drive so that i could put it back after a mandatory reset
Not a teacher, but I used to lightly write the answers on a desk before the test with pencil. If someone calls you out on it before the test than you claim that you using the write the material down method of studying and didn't notice that it was marking the desk. After using the necessary material you just rubbed the pencil marks off of the desk thus destroying the evidence.
During an AP US History test in high school, we had a question asking about the author of a book. Kid raises his hand and says “Mrs. ______ I read this weekend and I really liked it!” The teacher, obviously forgetting that she had put this question on the test, replies with “Oh! By ? I love that book!” The whole class bursts out laughing but no one says anything because she had just given us the answer to the test question lol.