As both a student and professor, I have seen the variety of ways students have tried to cheat their way through college. Which ones work the best, and which aren't worth your time? Let's take a look below…
Your accounting professor might describe cheating as "unbalanced," while your college algebra teacher might say it "doesn't add up," and your theology instructor might simply say "cheating is wrong, wrong, wrong." I've always defined cheating as "Getting a favorable outcome without expending the same effort everyone else does."
Here are some popular cheating approaches, including the dead-ends and the ones that actually work:
Copying homework – In grade school this was the lowest of low tech; you met with somebody in the schoolyard and physically wrote down their answers on your paper. These days, a ton of websites advertise their vast store of essays and term papers on a variety of topics that they are willing to sell to the unsuspecting student. The reality is that most of these websites have the same materials (are they copying them from each other…?) and that almost all instructors are aware of them. In fact, there are a growing number of "counter-copying" websites that will check your submitted work and let the instructor know if you are guilty of plagiarism.
Verdict: If the favorable outcome you were chasing is getting a failing grade, you could have turned in a blank sheet of paper and saved yourself some money.
Computer hacking – OK, the movie "War Games" was made like 20 years ago, right? These days, college computer networks are big-time systems managed by a host of computer professionals. Security software monitors access to vital parts of the school network, and databases are equipped with password protection and data encryption. Sure, sometimes somebody screws up and a data-encrusted laptop goes missing, but while that could net you some social security numbers it doesn't help you change your grade. This approach was never that realistic back when the movie was made, and even less so now.
Verdict: If your favorable outcome is getting thrown in jail, there are easier ways to accomplish that than hacking into the university computer system.
Cheat notes – This was popular when I went to high school. We'd write definitions… I mean, other kids would write definitions on tiny pieces of paper and sneak them into the class during tests. The trouble was, half the time you couldn't read the tiny handwriting and you'd end up copying it down wrong. The other half of the time the teacher would catch you and you'd flunk the test. Of course, college work is much different than high school – the papers would need to be bigger and the writing even smaller still. I never encountered this one myself in college, but having seen lots of other high school behaviors from some college students I don't doubt there are some who still make the attempt.
Technology can help this one, though. Replace the tiny papers with a PDA or cell phone and you can have legible notes in a small item commonly found in classrooms. Unfortunately, most instructors require that students put these items away during tests, and in those cases tiny papers are much easier to hide than a fist-sized electronic device.
Verdict: The odds are against you here, so if your favorable outcome is a failing grade then go for it.
Well, we've pretty much shot through the traditional cheating methods. So what really works? What are Professor Cram's recommendations for how to succeed in college by cheating? How do college students get a "favorable outcome without expending the same effort everyone else does?" Here you go:
- Take good notes
- Learn to write a killer essay
- Find out how to take a test
- Master the art of the oral presentation
- Follow the seven keys to getting better grades
- Use College-Cram.com to find the best way to study
You'll end up spending far less time and learn a lot more about yourself and the world around you.