Cheating in Exams: Motivations for Academic Dishonesty and its Consequences

Cheating and malpractice have become hallmarks of education. This is frequently motivated by the desire to succeed or simply peer pressure. In a recent bizarre incident, a man in India impersonated his girlfriend to take a recruitment test on her behalf. Unfortunately, his disguise did not fool the authorities, who apprehended him for cheating. To say that people will go to any length to cheat on an exam is an understatement.

In this article, we will look at why students cheat and the potential consequences.

Academic Dishonesty

A shocking reality in modern education is the widespread acceptance of academic cheating. Recent surveys, such as this High School Survey, reveal alarmingly high percentages of students admitting to academic dishonesty. Approximately 79% of these students believe that cheating on exams is ethical and acceptable. But why do students think it is okay to cheat? This normalisation of cheating in academic settings raises concerns and emphasises the importance of understanding the underlying causes of this academic dishonest behaviour.

Causes of Exam Malpractice

A survey highlighted that approximately 50% of the students who reported cheating said they did so because of the intensely competitive environment of their school. It is no surprise that an increasing number of students are yielding to the pressure that schools place on them to succeed and maintain their academic standing.

According to several articles published by Carnegie Mellon University, students who take high-stakes assessments and have low expectations of success due to perceived lack of ability or exam anxiety are more likely to cheat. Others are motivated by grades because they do not see a correlation between learning and grades.            

There is also the argument that academic dishonesty does not always result in serious consequences. Students are only punished if caught cheating on exams, but the majority of them have devised clever ways to get away with it. Some studies have even suggested that academic dishonesty is acceptable and encouraged in certain cultures. Having said that, there is a wide acceptance that cheating on exams has consequences for society.

Consequences of Cheating

Cheating in exams has a wide range of consequences that can harm both individuals and society. Exam cheating has a negative impact on a student’s self-esteem, causing feelings of guilt and insecurity. Furthermore, cheating can become a difficult habit to break, cultivating a dependency mindset. Cheating also carries serious consequences, such as academic sanctions like failing grades, suspension, loss of reputation, integrity, and possible legal repercussions. These consequences not only have an immediate academic impact, but they can also jeopardise college admissions, scholarship opportunities, and future career paths.


Cheating in exams continues to be a problem in the field of education. However, all relevant stakeholders are responsible for creating awareness about the consequences and educating students about the benefits of academic integrity. It requires a collaborative effort to constantly look for ways to make exams more credible and eliminate academic dishonesty around the world. Embracing academic integrity leads to lifelong success and encourages fairness in education.

VICTVS is dedicated to fostering a culture of honesty in education. We promote an environment that discourages cheating and educates students about its negative consequences in their personal and professional lives. Please let us know what you think about this topic and leave a comment below.

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