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5 Clever Ways Students Cheat on Online Exams and How to Stop Them

Written By Romila Kanchan

More and more universities are conducting exams online. The more reputed the university, higher is the number of candidates that apply for admissions there. While conducting high stake exams online in very large numbers, how can universities and organizations prevent candidates from cheating? Especially if the candidate has the option of attempting the exam online from remote locations? It’s a well-known fact that cheating in online examinations is on the rise. Students are coming up with smarter ways to outwit proctoring technologies while giving examinations online.

5 Clever Techniques That Students Use to Cheat in Online Examinations and Ways to Detect and Prevent It:

1) Screen Sharing/Mirroring:

When giving exams from remote locations, the candidate has the freedom to make use of multiple monitors to have a friend simultaneously access the exam questions and provide answers. Candidates have been known to use screen sharing and mirroring to cheat in tests.

How to Prevent Cheating in Online Exam?

By using secure browsers to conduct exams, cheating using screen sharing or mirroring can be prevented. A secure browser prevents the test taker from venturing outside the test environment to access display settings that can be used for screen sharing or mirroring.

Additionally, using a proctoring software that allows screen sharing with the live proctor can also prevent test-takers from cheating using screen sharing/mirroring as the proctor will be aware of any activity that takes place on the test taker’s screen.

2) Cheating Devices:

Companies like Prometric who conduct high stake online exams like CAT and other competitive examinations were recently quoted saying that test takers are using Bluetooth devices that are very small in size and practically undetectable. Candidates are also making use of calculators that can store formulas and other data that can help them score high on the exam. Test takers themselves admitted that its true- this new trend of using hi-tech devices for cheating in online exams. They also said that a smaller number of students use traditional methods of cheating like chits and scribbling on palms anymore.

Undetectable cheating devices is a huge market, with e-commerce giants like Amazon selling these crafty gadgets, targeted towards test takers, at lucrative prices.

How to Prevent Cheating in Online Exam?

Using live proctoring along with auto proctoring can prevent test-takers from using gadgets to cheat as these proctoring technologies records the candidate’s eye, head, and keystroke movement. It also records audio and can detect and differentiate between the candidate’s voice and any other voice.

3) Mobile Phones:

Using smartphones to cheat in online exams in on the rise. Connected devices are used to store answers, use web-search to look for answers and aid other fellow test takers in finding answers to test questions.

A study conducted by McAfee an online security software manufacturer, found out that one in three students in the USA uses mobile phones or other connected devices such as smartwatch to cheat in exams.

How to Prevent Cheating in Online Exam?

Auto-proctoring service providers have updated their image recognition technology to identify devices such as mobile phones and smartphones. ProctorPlus - an auto proctoring service provided by Mettl, prevents usage of mobile phones during online exams by using advanced image recognition technology to identify these devices. Alternately, if the mobile device is not visible in the webcam, the auto proctoring software is able to detect if any activity is happening in any device where the candidate is logged in (via email, etc.) and flags this incident as a cheating attempt.

4) Auto-coding software:

In programming tests that are conducted either during school/university examinations or during recruitment, candidates have been known to use auto coding software to pass the exam. These software create programs without the candidate having to write a single line of code.

How to Prevent Cheating in Online Exam?

Plagiarism checks that identify if the exact same code that is entered by the test taker is available anywhere on the internet, can be used to prevent candidates from getting away with cheating in coding and programming tests. Using MOSS (Measure of Software Similarity), an automatic system that detects plagiarism in programming codes, cheating in programming tests can be prevented.

5) Impersonation:

Making someone else take the test for you seems too far-fetched or something borrowed from the plot of ‘Suits.’ But when exams are given remotely online, the chances of the candidate using an impersonator to give the exam on their behalf becomes highly likely. No need for the use of any cheating devices or methods, just use a Brainiac to finish the test for you. Many test takers have used impersonators to clear so-called ‘high integrity’ tests over the years.

A 2013 U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General's report indicates that an estimated $187 million in federal student aid was likely fraudulently acquired by rings of criminals between 2009–2012, using fake identities of test takers.

How to Prevent Cheating in Online Exam?

Using Online ID authentication can help in preventing fake candidates from attempting the exam on behalf of the actual test taker. These days, proctoring vendors have come up with multi-level online authentication methods where the candidate’s face is matched with that in the candidate’s submitted ID, biometric information is collected and crosschecked before the exam, and even information such as keystroke is used to ensure that the actual candidate attempts the whole exam without bringing in an imposter midway during the exam.

As AI used in proctoring technologies advances to thaw all attempts made by test takers to cheat during online examinations, the integrity of online exams will rise rapidly to allow for fair candidate selection whether its in school/universities or corporations. It's about time any institute or corporate using online examinations to select students or talent started adopting the latest AI driven proctoring technologies to drive fair student/talent selection.

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Topics: Remote Proctoring

Originally published October 23 2019,updated November 18 2019

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