Top 10 Hints on How to Cheat in Exams

Now, before the moralistic Daily Mail readers amongst you panic, this is not actually a guide on how to cheat in exams.  It is more accurately a list of the top ten hints on how to cheat in exams, or really ways, over my career some students have been caught cheating in exams.


How to Cheat in Exams 1: It’s just my Allergies!

The carefully written notes on tissues is far from an original idea.  Particularly on those well-known brands of ‘Pocket Tissues’, you know the ones 10 neatly folded paper tissues in a packet. The neat student is able to take the tissues out, unfold them, write copious notes, refill the tissue, and insert it back in the packet as nothing had happened.  This sounds very good in theory, however in practise it does look very strange if you spend a long time in the exam staring at the receptacle for your nasal discharge. Unsurprisingly, it might just attract the attention of the invigilator, however, there are worse places to stare as you will discover later on in this list!


How to Cheat in Exams 2: The Occult Drinker

Yes of course, hydration especially in an air-conditioned room is important during an exam. However, it seems drinks can reinvigorate the brain in other ways too. I have to say I was very impressed the first time I saw carefully written notes on the inside of a water bottle label.  Just a quick glance through the water bottle and the student could see their writing.  I have to confess, I thought it was quite ingenious.  However, a colleague produced from her office a carefully reprinted Coca Cola label; this was truly worthy of the Turner Prize. The student had taken a Coca Cola label, left the obvious branding but in the nutritional information box and all the stuff on the back had managed to reprint it with her own notes.  This was truly breathtakingly well done.  Other soft drinks are available, Coca Cola might be litigious!


How to Cheat in Exams 3: Body Notes

Being called to an exam room isn’t really that common, other than for stupid questions such as “what do I write to answer this one, sir?”.  That usually gets a response of, eh well if you know what you’re talking about and you understand the questions, you’ll be able to work that out on your own.  It is an exam after all.


Not this time, however.  I was in my office and received a phone call from the Exam Office which is part of the Registrars department.  The invigilators had requested that I go to sign off a report which they had started for an exam cheat.  Normally I wouldn’t hear about this but apparently it was an interesting case.  I’ll leave you to decide what you think.  Keep in mind it’s January at this point and the British weather is somewhat inclement.  I trundle off down the stairs and across to another building on the campus to find the room where my third-year exam is being held.  Wonders never cease!  Invigilators are in a flap and not sure how to write the report – there is a team of administrators who could have helped them to write “robust girl has pulled her short dress up to reveal screeds of notes written in biro on her thighs”.  It really was a first for me, and I thought I had seen most things happen!  Anyway, she’s actually now had a gastric bypass, watching her diet, working out, and taken to wearing leggings in exams as she is infamous throughout the university for her novel methods.  I actually applaud her for ingenuity – shame she never applied the same effort in her exam attempt.


How to Cheat in Exams 4: Inserted Smart Phone

How to cheat in exams I’m in heavy anticipation.  207 students taking a first-year level exam, although most of them are in third or fourth year as it is seen by many as an “easy elective”.  This is a completely true statement, yet they still manage to screw up the exam paper.  By the time students get to this point, many of them are more used to writing what is required in a third- or fourth-year level paper, complicate the meaning of a simple first-year question, and make a complete and utter arse by overthinking what is required.  You get 3 pages of nonsense for a 10-mark question.  Really, a page of literate sentences would have been sufficient.


My WhatsApp pings and it’s the faculty student co-ordinator.  Lovely woman, lacks the ability to think and make a decision on her own.  Yep, can I go to the exam room as there is a problem.  Luckily, I’m in the same building so it’s just around the corner.  I enter quiet as a little mouse so as not to disturb my little cherubs from their wrought consideration of aforementioned simplicity.  I thought I was going to help clear up a misunderstanding or mistake (by administration) typed up in the exam paper.  Oh no, there’s been an issue in the past 20 minutes and they wonder what to do – FOLLOW PROTOCOL!  They have caught a guy cheating.  Notes on his phone.  Now, the invigilators are required to scan students with one of those security wands which pick up if there is a phone or other device on their person.  How they missed this, goodness only knows.  He had two of them, after all.  Maybe he had a third as a dummy and handed it over.


Sonny boy was demonstrating some peculiar movements during the first 30 minutes of the exam so they were keeping an eye on him.  And quite rightly so!  At first, they thought he had fleas as he kept going to apparently scratch at his ankle – there was a phone shoved down his sock and he was trying (failing) to be discreet in looking at the notes he had photographed on it.  They retrieve the offending Samsung Galaxy, allow him to continue, but start to write up a report for the Misconduct Committee and Exam Office.  Scratching continues 10 minutes later but a little farther north this time.  The other phone was down his boxer shorts!  Good luck to whoever recovered that device – this was an early morning exam, and not all of these students could be accused of having the best of personal hygiene!


How to Cheat in Exams 5: The Mad Hatter

Firstly, gentlemen, you should never wear a hat indoors.  Don’t ask me why, something to with codes of chivalry, medieval knights, and removing helmets to identity yourself. Yes, of course, it is also polite for a woman to keep her hat on, but it is neither Downton Abbey nor the 1920s, so get over that too. Wear headgear or don’t wear headgear, it is entirely up to you.  But everyone knows, they are a good place to hide and write notes.  If you are waring Kalansuwa, Turban, Imamah, Keffiyeh, Hijab or Niqab we know about writing on the inside of them… and, yes, we even know how to cheat in exams using note written under the bands in baseball caps too!


How to Cheat in Exams 6: Suppurating Wounds

Halls of residence seem to be very dangerous places to live!  The number of students that arrive in the exam covered in plasters and plaster casts is truly remarkable.   I was ready for the notes on the outside of plaster casts, I can even remember that one from my own school days. What I was not prepared for was the plethora of large plasters.  An invigilator with many, many years of experience of both in invigilating and knitting noisily during exams decided to explain this to me… “Look son, don’t be so naïve, there is no way that guy over there cuts himself” With that, totally bizarre comment, she cast her knitting and Zimmer-Frame asunder, and leapt up like a gazelle in the direction of a guy who looked liked he played rugby.

Before anyone could do anything, she had ripped a 5cm by 10cm plaster off his forearm.  Honestly, I was the most startled person in the room, imagining a massive lawsuit heading our way, and being called as witness…  How wrong I was… Our suddenly sprightly septuagenarian invigilator returned brandishing the plaster like it was the cure for cancer, the solution to global warming and the key to solving world peace.  Chamberlin would have been proud…

Of course, it contained none of those things… but was, on the underside, full of notes for the exam.  Happily, I didn’t need to write up the paperwork, the tricoteuse to my right was wanting this head!



How to Cheat in Exams 7:  Gadgets

James Bond would be impressed, the room can be full of budding secret agents. False compartments on a Calculator really have been done to death, backs and keyboards that can be easily removed to conceal notes are hardly original ideas. Also, chaps in most Social Science exams you do not require a calculator, even if you do claim it could function as a substitute for an emotional support animal.

I was very impressed with the hollowed out eraser, which contained a carefully folder slither of paper with notes for the exam in tiny, beautiful script.  That had clearly taken some carving and calligraphic skill.

Nothing beats a pen, the things that you can do with a pen never fail to astound me. Carefully etched notes on the outside, take them apart only to find little scrolls on the inside etc. My favoured are the notes on the outside carefully and nearly invisibly etched into the plastic.  There are various spy museums around the world, I really wish I’d opened a small museum of modified desktop gadgets for exam use.


How to Cheat in Exams 8: London Calling!

How to cheat in examsWell, not just London, anywhere really!  Thanks to micro and nano ear receivers messages can be received from beyond the exam hall…  This can be really simple if it is a two-way device where messages can be sent as well as received.  The electronically minded candidate has a friend / tutor / paid advisor outside the exam who simply reads them the answer.



How to Cheat in Exams 9: Loyal Foot Soldier

During a typical exam you’re going to be sat down at a desk for two to three hours.  Now, maybe, just maybe, tying one of your shoe laces once during those three hours might make sense.  for example, if you’re thinking about an answer you see your shoelace is untied and it distracts you, you tie your shoelace and focus your thoughts again.  However, repeated tying of the shoelaces either indicates some strange shoe fetish or more likely notes written on the inside of your shoe.

Of course it could be notes written on and around your socks, or on your ankle, or on your lower shin or even in the turnups of a trouser etc. You have the idea on how to cheat in exams, and so does your average invigilator!



How to Cheat in Exams 10: Crotch Obsessed

If you thought staring into tissues was dodgy, this takes it to a whole new level! Yes, of course, you are an undergraduate and are probably still a bit obsessed with your (and others) genitalia.  However, if you spend a lot of time in the exam looking down at your crotch you are going to garner the attention of the invigilator for all the wrong reasons. Look, zipping notes into the fly of your trousers is just wrong, it’s not original and has been done many, many times before. When you are caught, as you are almost inevitably going to be, your embarrassment will be compounded 10-fold. Just think about the terribly awkward fumbling you will need to engage in as you try to maintain your dignity as you are escorted from the exam hall.



Now, of course, these methods of how to cheat in exams are all very old fashioned, in this COVID-19 era online exam cheating is becoming a much bigger issue.  Take home exams and exams in remote locations are opening up a whole new panoply of cheating techniques.