The Top 10 Types of Cheaters
Do you know who is cheating on your exam? You’re likely amazed at the many ways people try to cheat — cheating on tests is a widespread problem. It’s unfair to the majority of honorable test takers because:
- Cheaters don’t actually acquire the skills/knowledge to perform a given task.
- Cheating undermines the value of testing as a protection mechanism.
- Cheating threatens the viability of a testing program.
Who are these cheaters, and what can you do about it? Here’s the cast of characters:
- The “Impersonator” is also known as the proxy test taker who takes a test on behalf of someone else.
- The “Smuggler” brings materials or devices into the test setting that enable him or her to cheat. Some of these devices include hidden cameras, calculators, cell phones, minute pieces of paper, water bottles and handwritten answers on the bottom of shoes, hands and legs.
- The “Storyteller” memorizes test items only to share them later with others. This individual takes an exam multiple times and memorizes a few items in each testing session. He or she might inform just a few colleagues or sell the information over the Internet
- The “Chain Gang” is a group of individuals or an organization that collects, memorizes and sells items, typically through the Internet.
- The “Time Traveler” shares test questions, keys and similar test content from one time zone to another. This is a major problem for same-day test administration in paper-and-pencil testing.
- “Collaborators” use test-taking strategies to provide responses to groups of test takers. They strategically place themselves among the examinees.
- “Robin Hood” is the teacher or other grader who reviews answer sheets for a paper-and-pencil-based test and “fixes” responses to clarify what the student or examinee really intended. He or she gives answers to the “poorer” students to inflate their test standings or inflate passing rates.
- The “Hacker” infiltrates computer systems to gain access to test items and answers and final test scores.
- The “Ticket Scalper” sits for an exam’s beta test for the purpose of obtaining a free test voucher, which is then resold for a profit. He or she might retake the beta test several times to acquire items.
- The “Insider” and the “Fence” participate in the development or administration of the exams and take advantage of this access by selling test items to others.
Now that you know who these people are, what can you do about it? Here is a list of some of the best practices that you can likely do with your own internal resources:
- Monitor advertisements in newspapers.
- Watch electronic auction houses.
- Create a security tips hotline.
- Develop and implement a compelling security training and awareness program.
- Implement sound policies such as confidential disclosure agreements for vendors, nondisclosure agreements for examinees, qualification standards for participants and requirement candidates’ IDs and signatures be verified at the time of the testing event.
- Engage in sound test-design practices.
- Use intelligent scheduling and retake policies.
- Verify the security of your IT systems (e.g., firewalls and access control/monitoring).
- Develop solid beta/field-test designs (e.g., Don’t allow field testers to sit for the beta exam more than once).