A few things to consider before cheating on that exam


We all know that exam time can be rather stressful. You’re constantly reminded from teachers, family and friends that you absolutely have to do well because these marks will get you into university and eventually, get you that job you want.

And while you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders, you also have the added pressure of having to focus and try to get a year or more's worth of work into your head in a very short span of time, when all you really want to do is curl up in bed and sleep.

So sometimes, when everything feels like it’s just getting too much, we think that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad to cheat.

Dr Gillian Mooney from The Independent Institute of Education says, “At this stage, you may feel that it is the only option remaining for you, but what you think is the quickest and easiest route may very well destroy your future, and have repercussions that follow you throughout your life. If you cheat, you risk turning what would have remained a private challenge that could have been overcome within a year or two, into a public scandal that could ruin your reputation for life.”

At the time it may not seem like the biggest deal. I mean, how bad can it really be?

The consequences of cheating

Dr Mooney explains, “Every year, without fail, we hear about scores of matriculants whose results are held back, who face criminal charges, who are banned from writing NSC exams for years, and who spend ages in court as a result of cheating. Quite simply, it is not worth it. Cheating methods have become more sophisticated and no longer falls in the domain of scribbling crib notes on the back of a ruler. But if you think that your teachers and lecturers are not wise to today’s tricks of the trickery trade, you are quite mistaken.”

So while it may feel like cheating is the only choice you have, it really isn’t, particularly if you consider the consequences of your actions.

All the work you put in to better yourself and your future will have been for nothing in a 2-second exchange of notes or glance at another’s work.

Ask yourself, are you ready to throw away countless all-nighters and hard work and cheat yourself out of what could very well have been your best academic performance? Well, you'll never know if you choose to cheat.

And I say choose, because it really is your choice.

Also read: 

Choosing a better alternative to better yourself

If you are under pressure, instead of risking everything, distance yourself from people who may be influencing you to cheat and look at alternatives.

You could take a crash course in the subject, get a tutor or work with friends who are a positive influence on you. Study groups are great, especially because your peers may be able to help you with what you’re struggling with, all the while going through and feeling the same things you are. They could therefore be both academic and emotional support during what can be the most stressful time for you.

Do not feel discouraged

That being said, although this may very well seem like the end of the world, you shouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself that you forget that your very best will always be good enough. And should your results be less than what you expected, you shouldn’t let it discourage you.

Dr Mooney explains, “You may just need to review your options and tweak your plans for the next few years, which although it may seem disappointing at this stage, may even turn out to be a blessing. If you are able to face up to your situation now and handle it maturely and pragmatically, you will be learning a very important life lesson and grow as a human being, which may just put you on a better path for the future.”

So if you don’t get the results you initially wanted to get into the institution of your choice, you could opt to write supplementary exams, repeat the year or take a gap year to work – all of which are better options than cheating.

Dr Mooney concludes, ”There will still be consequences and you will never be free from the knowledge that your qualification was stolen, not earned," should you decide to cheat.

So before you do ask yourself, what could happen if I cheat?

What happens if I get caught?

And is it really worth it?

Read more:

What do you find works for you when you're trying to cram for an exam? Do you have any tips for stressed and anxious learners? Tell us by commenting below. 

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