Why Academic Cheating Is on the Rise and How Do You Minimize It

Why Academic Cheating Is on the Rise and How Do You Minimize It

An academic fact sheet by Stanford University shows that 73% of incoming graduate students agree to have cheated at some point. This number jumped to 86% when the polling was extended to include high school students. Furthermore, 20% of college students admitted to cheating in high school in the 1940s. That same number is between 78% and 98% today.

So why has academic cheating reached such epic proportions today? Read on to find out more.

Why Do Students Cheat?

Parental and Peer Pressure

Students end up comparing themselves to others in the school since they see certain individuals as being the ideal. Due to pressures at home and school, high grades are an extremely alluring prize for students.


And, when one individual student cannot achieve the prize, they can form groups and collaborate on assignments. They can split work and help each other finish it even when their school policies forbid any kind of collaboration. They can also seek help from online tutoring to achieve high grades in their subjects.

Performance Pressure

In the standard test-taking format, some students just don’t do very well. In such scenarios, a student may try to avoid doing badly by using cheating as a coping mechanism.


The current system rewards those students that are perceived as being smart. This is as opposed to being someone who puts in the effort and progresses over time. Research shows that the students who receive the former kind of praise will resort to cheating to keep their performance up.


Students have sometimes been seen to pass the buck. When asked why they cheated, they said that their professors were to blame. They say that there is an unfair academic demand on them. Professors may be too difficult to understand, or the course they cheated in was not a major. Sometimes students just do not see any value in the coursework that has been assigned to them.

Unable to Fit In All Activities of Student Life

A student’s life is diverse in the type of activities that they engage in every week. Most students have sports, extracurricular activities, and busy social lives. Some students are unable to schedule all these activities into their week along with their academic commitments. In such scenarios, students resort to cheating to get their grades up.

Low Penalties

Unclear academic policies about cheating make it easy for students to justify the act. When policies are not enforced students do not take them seriously. Also, there are times when the punishments for violating are minimal or are not actioned.


Students at the developmental stage, i.e. adolescence have a psychological inclination to be reckless. They have a proclivity to engage in illicit activities without concern for future consequences. Academic cheating is one of them.

What to do about it?

Reduce Pressure

Students need to value the coursework that they do instead of seeing it as a box to tick. Written assignments as opposed to strict MCQ-type exams. Research has shown that repetitive homework assignments also encourage students to cheat.

Assignments should encourage students to think critically about the topics taught in class. Strict deadlines can be there, but teachers should give students one late submission allowance every term. It will give them breathing space instead of a sense of desperation should some emergency arise for them.

Change the Language of Praise

Getting good grades means a student is smart and intelligent. This is a perception that needs to change. Students should be praised for the progress they have made from their last test and the effort that they have put into it.

Student Honor Code

Students that are allowed to form their honor vows are more likely to stick to them. They can draw up codes as a group and swear allegiance to them. If these honor codes come from outside, they may seem like something being imposed against their free will. Even the self-governing honor system should come from other students. Every year the seniors should pass on the system to their juniors who in turn can either adopt them as is or modify them.


An important final note is that there are times when students make honest mistakes. At times, students do not understand what constitutes cheating. The most common is the lack of knowledge about the citation process. Teachers need to understand the difference between these oversights and cheating. In such cases, students should be taught the correct procedure and not be penalized and branded as cheaters.