Do you know how common academic cheating is? What makes a human being susceptible to cheating? Are the reasons for cheating the same from elementary school to university? What do you think are the main factors that encourage students to cheat? Finally, what are some effective ways to counteract this problem in our educational institutions? Test your knowledge by answering the following five questions.

1. True or false? At least half of all students cheat at least once during their high school years.



Adolescence is the time when risk-taking is at its peak, and this is the age when student cheating reaches its highest. According to various sources, at least half of all students fall victim to cheating at least once during high school (Anderman & Midgley, 2004; Christensen Hughes & McCabe, 2006; Gilbert & Michaut, 2009).

Find out more: Why are we cheating?

2. Which of the following statements about cheating is incorrect?

A. The temptation to cheat can be much stronger, even for the brightest and most privileged people, when others around you are cheating – a contagion or imitation phenomenon.

B. According to the so-called “fudge theory,” we would be willing to commit dishonest acts to a certain extent when we can justify and rationalize them.

C. We would be less likely to cheat if our actions benefit someone else.

D. One study found that cheating can lead to feelings of personal satisfaction.



The American behavioural economist Dan Ariely, author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (2012), has observed in his experiments that we would be more inclined to cheat if our action can be advantageous not only for ourselves but also for a third person. Surprisingly, we would be even more motivated if our cheating could benefit others before ourselves. Is this pure altruism or a vital need to clear our conscience? Probably a bit of both.

Find out more: Why are we cheating?

3. Which category of students do the following factors correspond to that are most likely to lead to cheating?
1- elementary school students; 2- high school students; 3- university students

A. They are more likely to cheat in subjects they consider less important so that they can devote their energy to those that matter more. Other factors that may increase the likelihood of cheating include: viewing cheating as a routine behaviour, having a conflictual relationship with parents, and fearing negative comparison with peers.

B. The quest for a better grade is the primary motivation for both those struggling and those who have an easier time succeeding; the second motivation is the lack of work done to succeed.

C. The fear of being punished, rejected by peers or humiliated by the teacher is the main reason for cheating.


1- Primary school students: C; 2- Secondary school students: A; 3- University students: B

Find out more:

4. Select the correct term to complete the list of significant factors that cause students to cheat, as identified and listed in order by the nation’s most extensive study of student dishonesty.

Terms: cheating, consistency, assessment, personal

A. ________ issues.

B. The context and culture of ________ within and outside the university.

C. A mode of ________ that is perceived as unfair by students and a pedagogy that encourages non-compliance.

D. The lack of ________ of universities and faculties between their rhetoric about academic dishonesty and how they deal with it in practice.


The main factors that motivate students to cheat are:

  1. Personal issues
  2. The context and culture of cheating within and outside the university.
  3. A mode of assessment that is perceived as unfair by students and a pedagogy that encourages non-compliance.
  4. The lack of consistency of universities and faculties between their rhetoric about academic dishonesty and how they deal with it in practice.

Find out more: Countering cheating in eLearning

5. True or false? A commitment to an honour code is one of the most effective ways to prevent cheating.



For our mental equilibrium, we must maintain a good self-image. According to several researchers, this mechanism is one of the most important points we should focus on to prevent cheating.

That being said, various means can be deployed to counter student cheating. In all cases, the best solution is a comprehensive one, which includes not only effective means of detection and dissuasive sanctions but also targeted prevention measures.

Find out more:

Read our articles for a better transition to online learning

Catherine Meilleur

Catherine Meilleur

Communication Strategist and Senior Editor @KnowledgeOne. Questioner of questions. Hyperflexible stubborn. Contemplative yogi

Catherine Meilleur has over 15 years of experience in research and writing. Having worked as a journalist and educational designer, she is interested in everything related to learning: from educational psychology to neuroscience, and the latest innovations that can serve learners, such as virtual and augmented reality. She is also passionate about issues related to the future of education at a time when a real revolution is taking place, propelled by digital technology and artificial intelligence.