10 Most Creative Cheaters in College History

As much as we’d all like to think that college students are a population of entirely upstanding and moral young adults, the fact is that most students will engage in some form of serious cheating during their college careers. According to a study at Duke University, a whopping 70% of college students have committed serious acts of cheating. With papers available for download online and cheat sheets available for purchase on nearly every college campus, we imagine that the temptation to cheat is simply too easy to give in to for some overwhelmed students.

While many students will rely on tired old methods like copying and pasting content from the internet and leaking answer sheets before exam day, there are some students who are actually quite creative in their risky endeavors. Of course, since we know about them, it means they were caught, so obviously they weren’t quite creative enough. And we can’t help but wonder, if they were motivated enough to come up with such creative schemes, why couldn’t they just do the work? Still, we do relish in hearing about some of the funny and downright impressive ways some students have tried to beat the system, and we bet you will, too.

  1. Collaborative test-taking

    In business school, networking is incredibly important, and lots of students network through study groups. But at Duke, a group of students took their study group a bit too far, working together to complete an take home open book test collaboratively instead of individually. It may have felt like a smart and creative idea at the time, but that didn’t last long. So many of their answers were quite similar, and it wasn’t hard for their professor to uncover what really happened. When their collaborative work was revealed, it was devastating to Duke’s business school: 34 students were involved, representing almost 10% of the school’s first-year class, all of whom were either expelled, suspended, or failed out of the class.

  2. Phone a friend

    On Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Phone a Friend is a fun, officially sanctioned way to get a little help with your answers on the game show. But in college, it’s cheating. That hasn’t stopped some students from employing this tactic through high tech cheating software. Companies like Spycheatstuff.com provide students with hands-free wireless earbuds that allow for phone a friend cheating that’s incredibly discreet. At least one firm, ExamEar, has been shut down, but more continue to pop up for creative, well-heeled cheaters willing to shell out big bucks for good grades.

  3. Paid grading

    When you can’t earn good grades, can you just pay for them? At Diablo Valley College, that’s apparently the case. When this scandal broke, it was revealed that for about $600 each, 70 students were able to change their grades, and all told, about 400 grades had been changed over the course of seven years. But those who couldn’t afford the steep price of grades had a more creative option as well: some students exchanged sex for grades instead.

  4. Crib sheet tees

    Everyone has heard of crib sheet tricks like printing notes inside of water bottle labels, including your professors. But here’s a new twist on an old favorite: one college student went to the trouble and expense of writing out a coded crib sheet, printing it on t-shirts, and then paying two guys in his class to wear them on test day. This guy gets creativity points for sure, but we think that’s a lot of effort to go through just to avoid studying.

  5. Maryland bites back

    This one is a highly creative cheat, not on the part of students, but of the University of Maryland. After professors suspected cheating on a midterm, but were unable to prove it, they found a way to quickly sniff out the perpetrators. University business school officials posted a fake answer key full of incorrect solutions before their next exam, and they were able to easily identify the cheaters in class, revealing 12 students who had put down the fake answers.

  1. Hacking dental school

    Hacking into protected files is something that you’d expect from computer science students, not really future dentists. But at the Indiana University School of Dentistry, a massive cheating scandal broke out after at least one student hacked into files and gained access to X-rays that would be on an upcoming exam. This information was shared with many classmates before the truth was revealed, and almost 40 students were punished with some sort of disciplinary action. In all, almost half of the school’s second year class was involved.

  2. Grade A transcripts

    A transcript from Los Angeles Trade Technical College just isn’t worth what it used to be, not after over 20 students came under investigation for using bogus transcripts from the technical school. Although LA Trade Tech is a real college, the transcripts presented by some students were not, with many highlighting records with all As. Officials at Glendale Community College became suspicious when these supposed A students came to their school and began failing courses. It turned out that often, students had enrolled in LA Trade Tech, but had never even completed courses before they creatively embellished their transcripts to reveal their excellent work.

  3. I’ll just put my name on this one

    Some students copy and paste their papers off the Internet. Others hire writers or buy papers online, too. But not everyone has the guts and idiotic creativity to claim a classmate’s paper as their own. That’s exactly what Cam Newton did while he was a University of Florida star quarterback. He apparently took a paper that another student had turned in and simply wrote his name on it. When it was revealed that he had not turned in his own paper, Newton was given a chance to turn in a second, authentic paper, which he purchased on the Internet. After strike two, it really hit the fan for Newton, sparking investigation into soliciting pay-for-play payments and more, which ultimately led to his resignation from the school.

  4. A smart way to make money

    When students go in to take the SAT, they are required to show ID in order to verify that they are the person who will be getting credit for their test score. But when fake IDs are so easy to acquire, that safeguard means little, especially when students have access to others who are happy to take their test for them, provided they are willing to pay a hefty fee. While it sounds like a smart idea to have a qualified test-taker stand in for you, in reality it’s incredibly stupid, especially when you get caught: authorities busted nearly 20 students in a cheating ring on Long Island, and all face misdemeanor charges. We’ve got to think that severely hurts their chances at college admission as well.

  5. Impressive SAT scores

    While some students may go to great lengths to boost their SAT scores for college admissions, colleges can be guilty of creatively padding their achievements as well. Claremont McKenna College was found to have exaggerated the SAT scores of its incoming freshman classes for the last six years. Why would they want to do such a thing? Because higher SAT scores mean higher national school rankings. What we can’t understand, however, is why they hardly did anything at all: score averages were boosted by a measly 10 to 20 points in each section.

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