How to Cheat on a Test

I was prepared to write a lengthy blog on this topic, but I’d rather toss the question out to my readers. If I let students use the bathroom during a test is it really nature calling or an excuse to cheat? I’m suspicious, but I’d like to hear from you.

Here’s the scenario.

Last week a student asked to use the bathroom during a midterm. I said no. He offered to submit to a body search. In his defense, he turned his pockets out and raised his arms. I told him it would be weird, and potentially a YouTube disaster – Teacher frisks student during a test. Instead, he took his seat and crossed his legs for the remainder of the exam.

Then another student, this one with a runny nose, asked for permission to get a tissue. I honored his request to a sea of complaints. How come you let him go? I pointed out that the sniffling student had produced sufficient evidence in the form of mucus. Some students attempted this method but came up dry.

What would you have done?





  • Jessica Olivier

    This is a really difficult topic. Coming from the perspective of a student, I’ve witnessed multiple people use the “bathroom” excuse in the middle of the test, just to go look up answers on their phone. I can see where it gets slightly unfair with letting a student get a tissue and not letting a student go to the bathroom. The student that was going to grab a tissue could just as easily cheat just like a student who has to use the restroom. It makes it reasonable since it was apparent that the student had a runny nose. But how can a student prove that they truthfully, just have to use the restroom (without causing an inappropriate scene)? Of course, this student should’ve thought to use the restroom before the midterm started, but emergencies happen.
    Overall, this is really tricky. I would probably let the student use the restroom, but I also like to see the good in people and trust that they’re being honest.

  • Daniel Martinez

    You know, I never understood why teachers wouldn’t let students leave to the bathroom during a test. To me, if a student were to cheat, it show’s their not capable of comprehending what was taught. If that’s the case, the students grade should reflect that, and therefore the student shouldn’t pass the class. Sometimes, I have to go to bathroom during a test, but I keep silent because I don’t want to be turned down. In reality, a student shouldn’t have to worry about being turned down, nor have to worry about being searched by a professor. Neither the professor or classmates can assume what the requesting student is going through. If I were a professor, I would have no problem letting a student of mine get up and go to the bathroom. I would only become suspicious if the student has gone to the bathroom for a long period of time, comes back in, and within seconds they hand in the test.

  • Jason Martinez

    As complicated as this may seem if the student is willing to leave his phone and empty out his/her pockets I would have to assume they really need to use the restroom and would allow it, contingent that I would remain with the phone. This would make cheating more difficult…. However you never know. I haven’t witness this myself personally but I am also 30 years old and feel you should really learn what you are in school for to get the most out of tuition… Just my take

  • Sujin Oh

    Yeah, I have never cheated on a test but I have witnessed directly other
    classmates doing it during a test. Although to most students it sounds tempting
    having the great opportunity to peek for answers answer in
    bathroom. Even students are allowed to be frisked by a professor before going
    to bathroom, they are still able to find ways to cheat for the test. For
    instance, they might hide certain materials in bathroom in advance before taking
    the test, or they might use the computer outside, not going to the bathroom.
    Although those are just entirely my assumptions.

    There are many other more creative ways of cheating ways for a test. So, for a
    teacher to fall for that old trick of going to the bathroom seems to me like it
    is clearly unfair to the rest of the classmates. The responsibility to prevent
    cheating rests on the professors. However, it is doubtful that a professor will
    be able to prevent cheating by 100%. However, I think that it would help if before
    starting the test the professor must give a notice to the student that
    they can’t go to the bathroom during the test. But, if
    someone really has an emergency and wants to go outside of classroom, he has to
    submit the test paper. It sounds very hazardous but it will help to prevent
    cheating and unfair grades.

  • Nikola Shkreli

    This is a very difficult topic in my opinion. I have seen and heard of MANY students leaving the classroom to hop onto their phones and look for answers to a test/quiz. I can definitely understand why you wouldn’t allow students to leave the room for a restroom break, you never know what they have on them. Even though the student was willing to be searched, you never know if he had any papers or notes somewhere on him or int he building. And yes, frisking a student could definitely result in some sort of recording and displaying on the internet which would result in negative publicity. As for the student with the runny nose, i would have suggested crying tissues next time, and allowing them to be gone for a very short amount of time to solve the issue. I have had professors who didn’t allow students to leave the room during any type of exam, and making it very clear that if you do want to leave the class, you must submit your work before. It would have been smarter for the student to use the bathroom before the class as if they were going on a trip and didn’t have any stops (when i was younger my parents always told me to use the bathroom before leaving haha).

  • Matt Brembs

    This topic is very typical and common. If i were the teacher I would let both students go to the bathroom. If a student feels the need to cheat it is completely on them and their decision. As a student you take a class to learn as much as you can and apply that knowledge to help you create success in your life. If you cheat in reality you aren’t learning anything and in class when notes were given you probably weren’t paying attention. If you are going to class just sitting their not paying attention and wasting your own money than that is your problem. Even if a student doesn’t leave the room they still could have copied another students paper. Generally speaking the number grade you get on a test doesn’t necessarily mean you earned that grade. Cheating can be in any form, and if you have to cheat you aren’t a well prepared student and your just wasting your own money.

  • Minjee Choi

    I believe it is the student’s responsibility to use the restroom before the exam but for some odd reasons a few students need a reminder to use the restroom from the teacher/professor before they begin the exam. I believe it’s only fair to enforce the rules to all students and it’s the student’s job to come to class fully prepared for the exam. That includes studying, preparing all items for the exam, taking care of all their personal business( brining their own napkins and using the restroom), turning off their cellphone, and etc. It still baffles me how some students know these things by now. I also believe that it’s a student’s responsibility to free themselves from all suspicion and just take the test. Just yesterday when I got up to hand in my exam, a classmate whispered over to me asking for the answer to a question. Initially, I was dumbfounded because I couldn’t believe this was happening in a college course and for that student to ask so blatantly… I was speechless. Immediately I just shook my head and walked away. I REFUSE to spoon-feed anyone or tolerate those who cheat! For students to cheat and be given a CHANCE to cheat is wrong. I believe college and its courses exist for greater knowledge and to filter out the people who are determined and the people who aren’t. In todays world, getting a job is competitive and people do not rack up debt in college tuitions for no reasons. There are people out there who work really hard for their goals, sacrifice time with friends, family and even sleep just to study and finish up the all assignments. In my case, I work, go to the gym to maintain my health and I’m taking 6 courses (including a lab) and I find myself with barely any time to sleep. So for people who cheat, it’s a bit disrespectful for the hardworking and honest people. I could go on days about this topic because theres so many things wrong about cheating. One being that its against the rule at every college and the student SHOULD be dismissed but its only a matter of how strictly they enforce this rule. Some of the professors I had were so oblivious to this and I found myself getting frustrated.. it’s almost like they are encouraging you to cheat! I also believe theres a psychological part that plays a part too. For an example, those who cheat and ignore the rules at a institution, will they cheat the law and ignore the authorities as long as they don’t get caught? Probably. All in all, it shouldn’t be up to the individuals to decide whether they want to cheat or not because this rule should be strictly enforced with no excuses. The only thing these students need to decide is their attendance at their institution and whether or not they want a career.

  • Jonathan Pacheco

    I would of let the student use the bathroom. This one class I was in the professor made the student hand over his/her phone before going off to the bathroom during a test. If it is as serious as you say handing over your phone for a few minutes will not effect anyone. It’s not like the student was using the phone anyway since he was taking a test. If he finds a way to cheat after that then kudos to him and he deserves the higher grade but would have to live with the guilt.

  • Angelo Catalfamo

    I would have let the student use the bathroom. I am against cheating however if the student wants to cheat they are only hurting themselves. If the student did go to the bathroom and look at their notes or look up the answers on the phone they would only find the answers to one or two questions. I don’t know what its like to be a teacher but I don’t think I’d take it personal if someone cheated on my exams. If I found out I would report it and take the proper steps to holding them responsible. I don’t think I wouldn’t let someone use the bathroom because of cheating though because it would make me seem mean or unfair. I believe if someone finds the need to cheat they are lazy and lack confidence. In the end when the person needs the knowledge they will have already lead people to believe they know it by showing them the degree they supposedly earned and will wind up failing and looking stupid.

  • Ariana Groccia

    During a midterm I would have had the student hand in their phone. I believe, if a student is going to cheat, its going to be by leaving the room and either going to google to find the answers, or the student has a picture of lecture notes stored in their phone. That would go for all students attempting to leave the room during an exam. However, knowing you’re walking into a midterm exam all students should use the restroom before class, as for the student with the runny nose he knew he had a cold why didn’t he have tissues? its a topic that solely relies on trust and how much a professor can or cannot trust a student or class.

  • tamer tulgar

    professor I’ve known you for a while now and I’m sure you told those kids to go the bathroom before the test, so no one should have an excuse to use the bathroom during the test. he could simply leave and use his friends phone outside and googled some things. the tissue kid should have known he was taking a test and bring some tissues with him. leaving during a test should never be allowed unless its a drastic thing going then maybe. the only things coming out of his or her nose should be blood other than that use a shirt and move on.

  • Emilie

    That is honestly a tough decision! If you let the student go to the bathroom, you don’t know exactly what they are up too. They may not cheat and then again, they may see the opportunity. If it were I, I personally wouldn’t let the student go. I would make them hand their exam in and wait until the rest of the class finished. There is however a difference when a student is in immediate need of something such as a tissue. This situation can be addressed without anyone leaving the classroom. Overall, I think it’s really hard to believe the good in anyone during exams because cheating has become a habit for a lot of students. I believe professors need to be tough when it comes to cheating since it’s a serious issue among students.

  • Alyssa Morano

    I have witnessed this debatable situation numerous times in class. I understand that teachers don’t want to be the “bad guy” when asked to use the bathroom during an exam, but in my opinion, I feel that students should not be allowed to use the restroom while taking a test. College students are adults, therefore, they should be mature and know better to use the bathroom before entering the classroom. It is a distraction to the teacher and other classmates when one gets up for any reason. Cheating is also a big concern. Of course we can’t accuse every student who asks to use the restroom of cheating, but there is always that possibility, especially today with the advancement of cell phones. There are many ways for students to find answers to tests, that is why it is best to have the bathroom off limits during exams.

  • Julio Rojas

    I believe students should be allowed to use the bathroom. Convicted criminals in maximum security prisons have the freedom to use their own toilet whenever needed, also employees of companies governed by regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Being forced to retain human waste can provide physiological and psychological damage. Just imagine a student urinating in front of you, or even worse if he has diahrea and just lets pops that waste out on the floor. Using the bathroom is a basic human need of the body. A student does not need a bathroom break to go cheat, there is multiple ways for a student to cheat while not even leaving the classroom. So my advice to professors is make your exams more difficult. In the scenario above I would have let the student go and while he was gone look at his exam and get a picture of how hes doing. Then after the exam I would see how he did, and if he did complete did a 180 turn from failing to excellent I would just grade his exam more tough.

  • Patrick McCarthy

    Personally, I think that students should not be allowed to get up and use the bathroom during a test. Even if they actually have to go to the bathroom, who knows if they could check their phone or even a smartwatch. They could also probably check notes on their trip to the bathroom, too. In this digital age, you do not have to write the answers to a test on your arms. However, I do not think that that overused tactic has ever worked! As I mentioned before, today cheating is much more advanced, and so teachers cannot take any chances. I remembered hearing about medical students in Thailand (or perhaps some other Southeast Asian country) who used smartwatches and Bluetooth earpieces to cheat on their final exams. They got caught (I do not remember how, though) and expelled from the medical school and blacklisted from the industry.

  • Leonard Picun

    In all of my cheating experiences, I never once cheated outside of the testing room. I usually prepare myself by writing equations or answers within the wrapper of my water bottle. This usually happens when I’m extremely busy and only have 30 minutes of studying time. If I were in your position, I’d just have the student leave his or her phone in the class room. Students who have to go to the bathroom to cheat are usually not prepared and will use their phone as a final solution.

  • Benjamin Padilla

    I think no student show leave the class room to use the restroom during a test unless its a 3 hour test. The student should use the restroom before the test. If i was the teacher i would make an exception and let a student use the rest room with a catch. He or she would have to leave there phone and smart watch with me. If given to me they would be more then welcome to use the restroom. The only way i can see a student cheating is if they have written some notes on there actual clothing which i have never heard of before. Which if it is the case the student deserves a award for the best cheater. With my passed experiences i never cheated by going to the bathroom to look at notes but i have tucked notes away in side my tie which would never be found because some people doesn’t even know there is like a little compartment. With going to a restroom all i could see is if you get one or two answers on your phone but nothing more unless you are in the bathroom for a long time.

  • Carlos Hoyos

    For starters, I believe that we live in a place where everyone is innocent of proven guilty, and for a student to be looked at with the intentions of trying to cheat before being given a first chance is not just. As a student we do not come into to the class assuming our professor will not be good and we do not coming thinking that they will not they will be guilty of not being a capable educator. I think there can be many different things that can be done to allow the student to use the restroom, even if the professor does not agree with letting their students use the restroom during the exam. Students could leave everything that is in their pockets in a bin or on their desk while they leave the classroom to use to the restroom. When the human body has to go, it has to go and it is not a professor’s job to decide when that time is. It also is not healthy for the human body to hold it in. I think classes should discuss a maneuver to combat this issue along with their professor at the start of a semester. Not all students are willing to cheat on their exams, and they should not all be assumed to be cheaters because there have been cheaters before. Also, judging the student of being guilty and being cheaters will give them more motivation to do so, especially at the age of most high school and college students, where they are willing to do a lot of actions, for a rebellious or spiteful cause.