Nora Johnson: Cracking down on cheating

Nora Johnson: Cracking down on cheating

Nora Johnson: Cracking down on cheating. image: Pexels

Identical twins accused of cheating in an online US medical exam during the pandemic were awarded $1.5 million in damages after they sued for defamation.

Decades ago, twin cousins of mine sat a business management exam with one exam paper about the legal system, commercial law etc. They both answered the same questions and achieved similar results.

It was first thought they’d somehow colluded but the invigilator publicly stated they couldn’t have as he had seated them on opposite sides of the room with fifty other candidates. Basically, they revised together, bounced ideas off one another and were therefore drawn to the same questions.

A friend dealt with many sets of identical twins with identical patterns of behaviour and attainment. They chose the same exam questions, answered in the same way and got identical grades.

Even in Literature, where the choice of texts taught can make a significant difference and marking is more subjective, identical twins with different texts and teachers gained identical marks in exams marked by different examiners.

The issue here is that the online medical exam was during the pandemic when online exam fraud soared. Schools and colleges will doubtless be extra vigilant during the current exam season…

However, any kind of cheating in exams is understandably a serious issue that affects the integrity of the educational system and the credibility of the qualifications obtained. So it’s important to understand the various forms of cheating – including, sometimes, by identical twins too.

Identical twins share a unique bond, and in some cases, this can lead to collaboration. This might take the form of one twin taking an exam for the other or communicating answers during the exam itself. This type of cheating’s particularly difficult to detect, as the twins often have similar physical characteristics and mannerisms, making it difficult for invigilators to simply tell them apart!

While it may seem like a harmless prank or a way to help each other, cheating has clearly serious consequences. Students who cheat are essentially breaking the rules and undermining the value of their own and others’ qualifications. This can lead to a loss of credibility and a tarnished reputation that can have long-term implications for their future careers. Cheating may even result in disciplinary action like suspension or expulsion with a significant impact on a student’s future prospects.

This whole issue of exam cheating by identical twins and others, especially during the pandemic, highlights the need for a robust system to prevent and detect it. Measures such as increased surveillance and monitoring during exams, stricter procedures for student identification and random checks of answers against past papers are of paramount importance.

Basically, though, what’s truly essential is to address the root causes of cheating, such as pressure to perform, lack of understanding of the subject matter or fear of failure. Teachers and parents can play a key role in creating a supportive environment for students, providing them with the necessary resources and guidance to succeed. This should include encouraging them to seek help when they’re struggling and promoting a culture of honesty and integrity.

With talk of artificial intelligence taking over jobs from us all, the future’s only going to get tougher…

Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers ( all available online including eBooks (€0.99;£0.99), Apple Books, audiobooks, paperbacks at  Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.  

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.