Student cheats on test by using a phone. A picture of an AP U.S. History test circulated around the sophomore class during a recent cheating scandal.

by Kelly Chian, ’16

When given the opportunity to cheat, a student can choose between receiving an A or saving their integrity, not both. Cheating can be as small as saying the test was hard to another student or as large as plagiarizing someone else’s work.

Recently, a cheating scandal occurred that involved multiple people selling and receiving a copy of a test through text message. The scale of the cheating reached a point where the test was almost considered void for all students.

During an AP U.S. History test, sophomore *Michael reprieved the test, not feeling prepared enough. AP U.S. History teacher Betsy Sidor then handed the test out to each student, giving one to Michael accidently. The student quickly put the test in his backpack for later use. The word about the obtained test spread and students started to ask him for pictures.

“I wanted to do well, but I was not prepared,” Michael said. “[I gave the test to others, because] I was really just trying to be nice after a few people asked.”

The test was sent around by phone. Some even sold the test for money, and within hours the test became available to the later classes in the day. Sophomore Polina Oliynyk, who is in AP U.S. History, thinks that cheaters should know better.

“Most people, if handed the test, would let the teacher know and give it back without looking,” Oliynyk said. “I was a little irritated and upset because cheating is wrong and immoral and you could get suspended.”

Oliynyk was offered the test during lunch, while studying. She turned down the offer, and told Sidor that a copy of the test was circulating the school.

Michael got a one-day suspension and received punishment from his parents of no cell phone, car or hanging out with friends.

The teachers decided to make the test worth half the points for everyone, after considering making the test void.

“It was unfair to all the people who studied to be cheated out by the students who did not,” Oliynyk said. “The people who studied only got half their deserved grade and the people who cheated and didn’t tell received a fairly good grade.”

The system was changed as teachers have been finding ways to combat cheating by making different versions of tests, moving desks and using websites such as Turnitin.

“I think everyone has cheated but maybe not in extreme ways,” Oliynyk said. “By asking a friend vocabulary words that were on the quiz or what the prompt was for a timed writing.”

Some of the students who cheated shifted their focus from learning the material to achieving a high grade in an accelerated class.

“The cheaters felt proud not because they cheated but because they got away with it and got an A,” Oliynyk said. “AP U.S. History is a challenging class and when you get a good grade on a test, it feels pretty good.”

A Lewis and Clark College study found that students who have a deep connection with the material and want personal growth have less of a reason to cheat than those who want an A or to do better than their peers.

The culture breeds cheaters, especially if students feel the only options are “to cheat or to be cheated; because everyone is doing it, you don’t want to be the only one not doing well,” the study found.

For Michael, he has learned the wrongs of cheating. He said he will never cheat on an assignment again.

“The incident changed my perspective by showing me that cheating hurts the whole system,” he said. “When a student cheats, it affects the student’s learning process. When a student gets caught cheating, or involves others in cheating, it affects what the teacher is trying to do: teach.”

Caption: Student cheats on test by using a phone. A picture of an AP U.S. History test circulated around the sophomore class during a recent cheating scandal.

Photo by Sasha Dubson