Posted by: alcrabat | 14 July 2010

Cheating and Plagiarism

By: Imane Brahimi, Advanced 3

Cheating and plagiarism are two phenomena that have found a place and have made deep roots in our society. Academic cheating is the most alarming and threatening of the two because it stems from students and pupils. Students have many reasons for wanting to cheat, such as: a lack of confidence, being scared of making mistakes, or to be tempted by getting good marks without doing the effort. Not limited to a type of student, even the most excellent students ironically choose to cheat.

Holly Epstein Ojalvo, an American teacher, wrote about her experiences with cheating:

In my first year teaching, I discovered that a student had copied part of an essay from something he found online. I went over the passages with the student and discussed with him why it had violated school policy on academic integrity, and what he could do to make up the assignment. Reluctantly, I called his parents to tell them what had happened. What I hadn’t expected was the father’s verbal shrug: ‘Well, the president doesn’t write his own speeches.’ Nonplussed, all I could think to say was, ‘We both know that’s a different situation.’ 1

So why do students cheat on the exams? And what are the consequences? First we must define the terms. Academic cheating is the copying from others’ work or using any tricks that can help the perpetrator to pass his exam. Plagiarism is defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, as the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s original work.” Both of them are based on creating personal advantages at the expense of others, but academic cheating is temporary in that it’s only used for passing tests or short term assignments. Plagiarism, designed for long term effects, involves stealing quotes or ideas and using them for personal gains. Understanding both of these terms as deceitful leads us to question the main causes that incite the students to do so.

There are many causes that lead students to cheat. First of all, students feel that their teachers don’t give students enough time to prepare for their exams. Despite the time teachers give, it is never sufficient. Also, their teachers always give them problems that are too difficult, which makes it seem as if they don’t want their students to pass the tests. Although untrue, many students feel this way. Therefore, it’s very common that most students find ways like cheating to help them pass the exams or change their marks from “08” to “18”, even if the consequences can be costly.

In the short term, maybe these cheaters won’t be caught and they will get good marks without studying. And they may graduate from school without making any effort, which sound fantastic, but they are wasting their time and their money in trying to “learn” by cheating. These students are not actually and will never be learning by cheating.

In the end, who will be deceived? The teachers or the students? There is no doubt that the students will be the only losers. If they get caught, they will get a zero on their tests and will end up with a bad reputation not only with the teachers but with the other students as well. Moreover, when they will be asked to use their knowledge in other situations, for example at work, if they didn’t learn much at university because they were cheating, how would they solve problems, give ideas, behave in a meeting or perform in general? There is no doubt that the school is above all the school of life and the practice for the real world.

Omar, 27 years old, confesses:

When I was in high school, and in the university, I used to cheat in every exam. It didn’t take me too much time for the preparation and it usually helped me to have very good marks without working, but it really wasn’t worth the effort. Now that I work in this company, I feel really embarrassed in every meeting, in every question posed to me, in every situation I have to use my knowledge in. When I return home every day, my only loophole is checking my university courses. 2

Furthermore, it’s common for cheaters to feel negative emotions while completing this deceitful act. Guilt is usual felt because cheaters feel that they aren’t earning the good marks, as well as fear because of the possibility of getting caught by teachers. Added to these, they have no sense of responsibility, do not believe in their capacities, and are unable to rely on themselves.

Living the experience of plagiarism and suffering its consequences, 40 year old Malak explains:

I really do not know how to express the guilt I have for myself…When I was in the last year of the university, and when I was preparing my PhD thesis, I took much information from many books, made some changes and presented it as my original work… No one noticed it at the time. After 12 years now, I still feel scared to be unmasked, and I’m unable to show my PhD thesis to anyone, even not to my husband or to my children… if only time can turn back…3

Well, time never turns back and henceforth if everybody studied hard and concentrated in his studies, it is sure that no one would need to use any cheating methods. The exam questions over the lessons can not be too complicated. Parents should also teach their kids good values from their childhood to fight against this phenomenon and to show them the best example to follow, so as to behave honestly in the society.

To sum up, it’s true that cheating and plagiarism are the easiest ways for students to receive good marks, but they are for sure the easiest way for them to fail in life.



[2] Interviewed by Imane Brahimi, May 5, 2010.

[3] Interviewed by Imane Brahimi, May 25, 2010.


  1. awesome, awesome article. LOVE the conclusion!

    • Thanks a lot Bilal..

  2. A special thank to kacie !

  3. Also, be sure to check out our teacher Erica McBride’s post on teaching in Morocco!

  4. sure I’ll do !

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