Professor Catches Cheating Students by Adding a Trick Question to Exam

In a world where students can feign bathroom breaks to check answers to exam questions, this professor came up with a clever and creative way of catching cheaters.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A cheating student
A student is holding a paper of exam answers.Михаил Руденко/iStock

Cheating in exams has been happening since the dawn of time and will probably continue for as long as exams exist, but one professor found a clever way to catch cheaters. In a story shared on Reddit, user u/Mwxh described what one of his teachers did to find the real cheaters in his class.

A hard exam

u/Mwxh explained how during an engineering test he noticed that half the class needed to use the bathroom. This irritated him as he was trying to focus on this particularly hard exam, and he assumed most students were using the bathroom as an excuse to cheat.

He also noticed that the test had one particularly hard question he could not answer. After the exam, he got a strange email from his professor.

The email to all the students explained how one question had been a trick to catch cheaters.

A fake answer

"Many of the students in this class use chegg (a website that has answers to lots of homework questions if you're not familiar). To be fair I have an account too though I only used it for studying and checking homework solutions. Anyway, he explained that he was tired of people going to the bathroom and looking up answers on their phones so he made the question I mentioned earlier as a trap. He purposely made part b impossible to solve and about a month before the final, he got a TA with a chegg account to ask the exact question, which was distinctly worded to be unique. He then created his own chegg account and answered the question with a bullshit solution that seems right at first glance but is actually fundamentally flawed and very unlikely that someone would make the same assumptions and mistakes independently," explained u/Mwxh in his Reddit post.

The professor then revealed that out of 99 students, 14 had written the "bullshit solution," meaning they had cheated. All the cheating students got a zero on the exam and were reported to the university and other teachers.

Although this tale is a great story, it raises some ethical questions. For starters, the students could have learned the fake answer from studying on Chegg.

The other ethical concern is that the professor revealed the cheating students' names, violating their privacy. Even though they may have done something wrong, they still have the right to privacy.

However, as technology advances, so will methods of cheating. That means professors must also continue finding clever ways of catching cheaters.

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