Teachers Share The Most Creative Act Of Cheating They’ve Ever Seen
Who hasn’t been tempted to look at a peer’s paper during a test, or re-use an old essay instead of writing a new one, or copy notes directly from a friend’s notebook? The following stories demonstrate just how far some people are willing to go just to get the grade they want. From sneaking answers into calculator covers to copying tests and re-creating hidden notes, these students tell us their creative ways for staying on the passing side of the line.
If you’re a teacher, read to know what to watch out for. If you’re a student, read for ideas. And if you’re done with the school scene, read for a laugh and to be relieved that you no longer have to live that life!
#1 Sneaky Calculator
In many of my college courses, I wasn’t allowed to use any calculator model higher than a TI84. So I took the guts of my TI89 calculator and swapped it into my TI84. Never got caught.
#2 Genius Snacks
My teacher told us a story about how she once 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.
#3 More Work Than It’s Worth?
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 to English. If you pull up the original paper and the new one side by side, you’ll get two papers of the same concept but written just different enough to not be considered plagiarism. Worked like a charm.
#4 Languages Are So Smart
I was supervising a final chemistry exam with another coworker. 15 minutes in, I heard a hand slam down on a desk. I turned around expecting the worst, only to see my coworker angrily shouting at a pair of really frightened 10th graders. 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 in Morse code. Not even with their fingernails, just with their fingertips. I never heard a thing, but my coworker happened to catch a “B” being signaled in Morse code or something. I’m 100% sure that if this coworker wasn’t in the room, they’d have gotten away with it for sure.
#5 Even Teachers Cheat
One of my teachers, let’s call him Mr. A, had a reputation for being a phenomenal teacher. He had every student engaged and invested in his class, no matter how mundane the subject. Any time he asked a question, every student’s hand would shoot up in the air.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m grabbing coffee with Mr. A. I ask him, “What’s your trick? How did you get every student bought in?”
His response: “I told the kids to raise their hand every time we had a visitor in class. If they knew the answer, they were to raise their left hand. If they did not know it, they were to raise their right hand. That way, I’d know who to call on and we’d all look good. Worked like a charm.”
#6 Watch Out
One of my teachers told us a story about a student who 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.
#7 He Should Get Some Credit, Right?
I remember a story by my O-chem professor. This student wasn’t showing up to class all semester, but his score kept improving significantly after re-grades. They got their tests back, had a day to review them, and were allowed to re-submit them for a re-grade. They knew he was cheating because of the unlikelihood of the grading mistakes on multiple exams but the TAs who graded it couldn’t confidently say it wasn’t their handwriting.
Ultimately, it was an office worker for the department who figured it out. His staples were angled differently than the exams that were initially handed out. He was recreating the test, printing it, answering it, and then grading it in the same pen as the TAs. made sure to do a good job copying the writing style.
#8 I Hope You’re A Programmer Now
In high school, I was in a computer-based learning program and our science tests were taken digitally. They used a program where once you entered the test, the only way to exit it was to click the “Finish” button or turn off the 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 could not be pasted into the answer sections on the test. However, after creating my own online 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.
Long story short, I could copy my entire page of notes I had taken on the test material and paste it into the section where I would enter my login information. Then I’d re-copy it, enter the test and paste it again in one of the answer sections, using it to answer every question, then delete before clicking “Finish.”
#9 Not That Sneaky
In elementary school, we had to write a paragraph each week featuring all the vocabulary words included in the unit. One clever kid wrote something along these lines:
“One day, we had to write a paragraph for English class. We sat down, picked up our pens 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.
#9 A B Isn’t Bad
One time in my high school Spanish class, we had to make a skit including a list of vocab words and it had to be four minutes long. So the skit went something like this (in Spanish):
“Hey, amigo, we have to write a skit containing: *lists out words.*”
“Oh, okay. What time is it?”
“It is 1:30. But I put my watch on my table. We can tell the time.”
“Okay. What is Jose’s phone number?”
“It is *lists out numbers.* What is Maria’s phone number?”
(They continue wasting time by asking random phone numbers while staring intently at the watch.)
“Ah, the bell. It is time to go to class. Bye.” “Bye.”
I think they got a B.
#11 Must Have Been Artistic
My exams that allowed the use of graphing calculators (TI-84) required us to show the examiners a “proof of reset” screen before the papers started. 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.
#12 Not The Worst Reason For A Tattoo
In my college physics class, a 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.
#13 Got Caught Anyway
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 though.
#14 Kid Didn’t Even Read
A teacher downloaded a worksheet for the kids to do while she was in a meeting of some sort. The kids found the worksheet’s answer sheet online and proceeded to copy the answers. The last answer said, “Student responses will vary,” and that’s what one kid wrote as his answer.
#15 So Close!
High school kids recreated a Snapple label where the nutrition panel on the back had all the answers, formulas, etc. They only got caught because I’d never seen the flavor before and wanted to see how much sugar was in it.
#16 Sort Of Creative
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. Halfway through the test, the professor noticed they kept turning the bottle and squinting. This went on for another twenty minutes.
The professor went up, grabbed the bottle and ripped 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 zero without reporting him to the academic committee.
#17 How Much Could You Really Fit In There?
I used to use one of those rectangular erasers because the pencils the teacher gave us were cheap. The eraser came in a cardboard sleeve and I ripped it open to write test answers.
#18 Pencils Are So Helpful
I passed a pop quiz in high school by looking across the room and focusing on the top of the smart girls’ pencil. I tried to decipher if she wrote A B C or D after the teacher asked each question. It actually turned out to be a more successful method than I thought it would.
#19 You Can’t Trust Anyone
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 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.
No one tattled. Probably because 90% of the class was on board with it.
The pictures got texted around, but a few people were smart enough to Bluetooth it to each other so it couldn’t be tracked.
Well, after the test, everyone had high scores and apparently, someone confessed. This resulted in a huge 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.
#20 Music For The A
I used a text file on one of the original iPods. The teacher was fine with “listening to music” during tests. It made my life so much easier.
#21 Teachers Are So Smart
As a teacher, the smartest way I “cheat” is by giving the kids a notecard and telling them they can put whatever stuff they want on it. 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 a skillset. If you aren’t practicing with at least eight to 18 problems every day, , then you’re never going to get past the little mistakes and missteps.
#22 Must Have Been Super Tiny
One of my friends in high school wrote all the physics equations we needed to know in really tiny font on Jolly Rancher wrappers.
#23 I Guess It Works
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. 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.
#24 It Pays To Be Creative
I had a professor who told us that we could bring a cheat sheet of any size for our final exam. He was serious about this.
The final exam came and there was this one girl who only had a single piece of notebook paper, while the rest of the class has multiple pages stapled together. Someone brought in a scroll. I brought in a poster.
The girl complained about how it was unfair for her to stay up all night actually studying the topics. But I stayed up all night too, trying to figure out how to work the examples.
The professor listened to her even though the entire class protested against her.
#25 Time Zone Trickery
My girlfriend works for a dental exam company. These are obviously super high-stakes exams. Since the exams are worldwide, they have actually found people from a particular time zone paying people from another time zone to email questions to them right before the exam starts.
#26 Mental Elasticity
Stretch a rubber band around a textbook, 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.
#27 Use More Than Just The Calculator
Writing down math formulas and putting them in the instructions insert of the calculator.
More recently, kids will put the answers into their smartwatches. It’s at the point where I make all students remove their watches and place them on the classroom counter before the test starts.
#28 Reading An Empty Sheet Is Still Weird
A classmate was printing the answers on his paper in a very pale grey so that it could barely be seen. He still got caught because the teacher noticed him reading an empty sheet.
#29 Double The Cost, Double The Grade
I did this once in a college math class… sort of. There was one problem that was absolutely going to be #1 on the final exam. It had been #1 for every final exam this professor had ever written (of which he gave us copies to study from), and it was #1 on the study guide for our final. I couldn’t do it. I tried and tried and tried, and studied, and got help, but whatever I did, I could not figure out the finer point of this specific type of proof. So I resorted to memorizing the steps and getting it down to a sequence of blanks I could fill in.
On exam day, I bought two blue books in the morning (test booklets with lined paper inside). In one of them, I very very faintly wrote the answer to #1. On the front, I filled in my name—to differentiate it from the other booklet. When the professor told us to take out our blue books and trade with the person next to us, I traded my blank blue book. I took the one I was given by the other student and slipped it into my backpack. At the same time, I slid out my blue book with my calculator and pencil (so it all looked legit).
I got my test. #1 was exactly as expected. I filled in the blanks and wrote over my words. I continued on with the exam and I pass the class.
#30 Easy To Get Rid Of
I had class in the morning with a kid who was a TA for my physics class. He would tell me the answers to 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, 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.
#31 Playing For The Wrong Audience
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 I dealt with the problem privately.
#32 It’s Your Own Fault, Teach
As a student, I remember when my entire class was accused of cheating, as the test results came back consistently high. What the teachers failed to realize 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.
#33 Pencils Are The Best
I used to lightly write the answers on a desk before the test with a pencil. After using the necessary material, I’d just rub the pencil marks off of the desk, thus destroying the evidence.
#34 Right Place, Right Time
During a spelling test: “Miss, how do you spell piano?”
The spelling word was piano. The teacher went on autopilot and started spelling the word.
#35 From Your Own House!
My sister-in-law is a teaching assistant at her kids’ school. Her youngest daughter (my niece) was seven at the time. She stole the test the night before, pretended it was homework and had her mom help her. Then, she sneaked the answers into the test.
One of the other kids caught her and let the teacher know. My sister-in-law, who was overseeing test conditions, died inside when she realized it was the homework sheet that she’d filled out.
#36 It Is An Underrated Language
I heard a story from a friend of a teacher who caught two kids cheating through Morse code by blinking.
#37 How Do You Check For That?
As a student, we used to wear uniforms with leather shoes. As my shoes were a beaten pair, I usually wrote on them with black ink pens. When tests came, I’d angle the shoe just enough to be seen by sunlight. Also, the edges of our uniform (button-down shirts) were filled with formulas.
#38 What. A. Genius.
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 and geometry class, and it was well known that Mr. D re-used the same questions every year; he 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.
#39 How Could You Not Study, Then?
Back in my high school years, my teacher straight out gave us a “practice booklet” that was just the final exam with a header changed. I liked that class.
#40 It’s Kind Of Cute
I teach kindergarten. They just blatantly copy off each other right in front of me and don’t understand the concept of “cheating.” They think they are helping each other and that I am mean when I tell them not to.
#41 Class Communication
During some test at my university, we had the questions projected on the white wall, so the whole class had the same test and we had multiple choices to fill out: “A, B, C, D, E”.
So the whole year, we agreed that each of the letters would be paired with a sign of holding the pen: If the answer was A, we’d point our pens forward. For B, we’d point it to the right, and etc.
We just had to carefully look around for a moment and see what most pens are pointing at and we knew the answer right away.
#42 What Was She Thinking?
During an AP US History test in high school, we had a question asking about the author of a book. A kid raised his hand and said, “I read that book this weekend and I really liked it!” The teacher, obviously forgetting that she had put this question on the test, replied with, “Oh! By F. Scott Fitzgerald? I love that book!”
The whole class started laughing but no one said anything because she had just given us the answer to the test question.
#43 A Question Worth Asking
During freshman year of Spanish, we were asked what currency is used in Venezuela. I had no idea, but I knew it wasn’t pesos.
I went to the teacher and asked her how many pesos a sandwich would cost in Venezuela because I wanted to have an accurate story in the extended response. “They actually use the bolivar,” she said. Cha Ching.
#44 How Did He Do That?
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. He would also tape the answers next to the pencil sharpener. The teacher never caught on and thought it was heartwarming how my dad and his friends would pray together before a test.
#1 And He Thought That Would Work?
One guy photocopied an article out of National Geographic, complete with the magazine headings and page numbers, and turned it in as his own work.