How To Cheat In A UWI Exam

Examinations are in full swing and students are either preparing to pass their exams fairly, preparing to cheat, preparing to fail or failing to prepare. I have never had the desire or need to cheat in an exam. If I’m not prepared, then I accept the possibility of failing. Unfortunately not all share this view as attempts to cheat in exams at UWI is ridiculously frequent. During my undergraduate years I never thought it was possible to effectively cheat. Exams are carefully monitored as invigilators search students upon entry to prevent the smuggling of electronics, paperwork etc and vigilantly walk around during the examination. Students are also not allowed to write on ny part of their bodies before or after starting the examination and are not allowed to leave the room unchaperoned once the examination has started. This sounds like a pretty solid cheater proof way of conducting exams. But students still attempt to cheat, most, unsuccessfully. It was not until I started invigilating exams that I realize how clever some students are with regards to cheating.

How Medical Sciences Students Cheat

It is well-known that the medical sciences (MBBS) program repeats the multiple choice papers yearly so incoming medical sciences students can benefit from having all the answers ahead of time. Some students memorize the questions and answers and record them then pass them down to the newer students the following year. In an attempt to minimize new students having the questions ahead of time, no student is allowed to leave the exam room with the question paper. I don’t believe that passing on the questions to newer students is cheating! It is the duty of the lecturers to make changes to the examinations yearly. That would solve a simple issue.

So how do they cheat in examinations? Well one of the duties of an invigilator is to chaperone students who need to use the bathroom. It has been noted however that med students use the bathroom significantly more than any other group of students on campus. At times one student will use the bathroom as much as 6 times during a 2 hour examination. Ridiculous! It has been determined that this is done to have the invigilators distracted to allow classmates to collude and quickly share answers. Very clever.

Last week I caught red-handed a student who has mastered the art of cheating in examinations at UWI. A student sitting the course “PHTH****” used the strategy that would easily fool any inexperienced invigilator. At the start of the examination she saw me approaching her desk and asked me if I could throw away her apple remnants. Not pleased with her request I requested that she wait until I could get some paper towels as her saliva and my hand would certainly not make direct contact. While she waited I signed the receipts I had but she couldn’t wait so she asked another invigilator. By the time I was done signing I noticed her unnecessarily ‘doing her hair’ while she peeked over at her colleagues multiple choice paper. I figured it was a ‘one-time-peek’ so I ignored it. I noticed she kept asking invigilators to do things for her whenever they were nearby and as soon as they left she would take another peek. I went to her area to monitor the situation and that was when another invigilator told me he saw her looking at her classmates paper while she ‘fixed’ he hair. She saw me close by and still made attempts to copy. For the duration of the exam her question paper was fixed on one page, yet she was answering all the questions. Strange! She saw that I was a potential threat and wanted me out of her space. She called me and reminded me that she had asked me to throw away her apple remnants! Mind you, another invigilator had already taken care of this! It was at this point I decided to make permanent residence in her presence and stood between her and her classmate, blocking the path to her future, covering the light at the end of the tunnel, crushing her hopes and dreams. This didn’t make her happy so immediately she had a flu, forcing a sneeze and trying to unblock a stuffy nose. She asked me to get her some paper towel. I stood firm as I told her to wait. I had another invigilator take my place after a quick nonverbal update and I went for the paper towel. I then had her moved to another seat and suddenly she could answer no question on the paper, she was the first person to leave the exam room.

Upon further inquiries I found out this wasn’t her first attempt to cheat. In another exam two weeks ago she brought a sanitary napkin in a clear plastic bag along with her stationery. During the examination she asked a male invigilator to take her to the bathroom. She took out the sanitary napkin in the exam room and took it to the bathroom where she ‘made the change’. The time taken to make the change, the sound of paper in the bathroom and her refusal to wash her hands (even after it was noted) led us to become suspicious of her actions. Who changes a sanitary napkin in the middle of a 2 hour exam? Not before, not after, during!

These events have led to planned changes which will prevent this, but her effort to cheat was the most significant I have seen in a UWI exam. It takes too much work to cheat though, it make more sense to invest efforts in preparation.

 

Aldeam Facey 2017

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UWI Examinations: An Invigilator’s point of view

I have been invigilating exams for a few years now and it has been a very interesting experience. When I was an undergraduate student I believed invigilators didn’t have much to do other than signing my receipts and ensuring I don’t cheat, but now, speaking from the point of view of an invigilator, I assure you it is a very tiring job.

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Our Purpose

So the first step is to have the exam room prepared. This involves placing receipts and other materials the students need on each desk. We then allow the students to enter the room at the appropriate time ensuring they are reminded of the items which are not allowed inside the exam center. This may be annoying for some, but every day students still attempt to enter with cell phones or various forms of paper (both not allowed). Sometimes physical searching is done as well. We then hand the question papers (which are all in sealed bags) to the students approximately five minutes before the start of the exam to allow them to look through and ensure they have the correct number of printed pages. When the exam starts we collect the receipts, sign and file the original copy. The carbon copies are returned to the students when the exam is finished. During the examination session we ensure students are comfortable while we constantly look for any irregular activities or possible cheating.

The Student’s Attitude

Almost every student wait until the last minute to enter the exam center, studying to the very last minute then rush in, having less time to relax and look through the paper. Some students don’t believe that Invigilators should search or ask them anything. This is particularly true for the law and medical students who tend to be very cranky during the exam season. Students also do not like being placed in a seat, this is especially true for the social sciences students as they want to sit where they chose, randomly. This will cause a lot of problems especially if we have a full room, without order the exam session will be chaotic. Students are seated based on arrival time and are only allowed to sit in one row (sitting from top to bottom) until it is filled, the row immediately beside it becomes available. Students should be aware that cooperation is the fastest way to get ahead as we are simply doing our jobs.


The Student’s Attire

There is no dress code for examinations and students make it so obvious that there isn’t. Most students don’t really care what they wear and that’s understandable given they may be up all night studying and have no time to get dressed. I don’t believe short dresses are appropriate for exams but that’s just me, last week there was a girl in a skirt so short, I’m sure I saw her sphincter ani externus.
When it comes to the hair I believe most students can honestly say ‘I woke up like this’. When you have to study , no time for a hair do.
But on the other hand there are well-groomed students! Well dressed young ladies with make up and a proper hair do. These are the persons who believe that if they are going to fail, then they are going to look good doing it.

Interesting Stories

Insane history

A few minutes after the start of an exam last semester a young lady doing a history course asked to use the bathroom. I accompanied her outside but noticed she was going in the wrong direction. I stopped her and she revealed her true intentions. She said she doesn’t know what to do on the paper and wants to go back to her car to study. I informed her that it is not allowed as she had already seen the question paper. She continued walking to her car while I tried to stop her. Thankfully a female security was nearby, I asked for her assistance but the student again lied saying she actually wants to use the bathroom. The security and I followed her but she whispered to me “I’m never coming out”. That would have been a real inconvenience so I informed the chief Invigilator, Dr. Hyslop. Many attempts were made to get her out of the bathroom but she would not budge. It took a while but she eventually came out telling us she is sick and needs to see the doctor, we offered to take her to the health center but she insisted on having her private doctor. We did not heed to that request. She then started crying saying her mom died. Of course we didn’t believe her. The security confidentially told me she believes the student was not totally sane. We all believed something was wrong with her. What scared me though was her threat. She slowly looked at me, the cause of her pain, and said. “Yuh betta nuh mek mi see you again or mi ago run yuh ova wid mi car!” I almost peed myself. After about an hour she was allowed to leave. I marked the color of her BMW, for my safety. She wrote nothing on the paper, surely she failed


The geographical cheater

A guy doing geography was cheating. He was successful, the exam was over. But when handing back his booklet the paper he brought into the exam (containing all the answers) fell to the ground, he had left it in the booklet! Thankfully the lecturer was there to see for himself. The student was written up, of course, he failed.

The missing page cheater

Last semester a few of us Invigilators saw a young man cheating, for verification, several of us watched as he copied the answer from a paper he brought into the exam. We told the chief and took the paper from him. He said he wrote the answer in the booklet and then tore it out but checking his booklet we found it was perfectly intact. We turned our backs a few seconds and he tried to tear a page out of his booklet to confirm his story. This irregularity was reported to examination section and of course he was allowed to make an attempt to defend himself. I did not hear the final result of his trial.

Exams are still in progress, if anything interesting happens I will update this post.

– Aldeam Facey 2015