Tragedy of cheating on a timed online quiz

By Adelia Sindunata

It was Sunday evening, and I was swamped with homework. I was scrolling through my Canvas page when suddenly I realized there was something in my to-do-list.

“Turn in Quiz 8: Content from Week 8.”

Crap! Another thing to be done? Even worse, it was due at 8 a.m. the next day, which meant I had do it immediately. Panic and stress hit me hard. I wanted a shortcut to get this quiz done.

That shortcut was the student’s old friend: cheating.

Most of my classmates were done with this quiz, so I texted one for help. Within five minutes, they had sent me all the answers. The next minute, I was ticking all the boxes of the correct answers. I submitted the quiz after spending three minutes clicking here and there.

“5 points out of 5. 3 minutes.”

The second after I read that sentence on my screen, I knew I was in trouble. This quiz was the type that requires students to consult 12-page readings while answering. Normally it would take 10 or 20 minutes to complete.

Soon, I got an email from my instructor saying that he wanted me to come to his office to discuss my quiz result.

I freaked out.

I asked my friends what I should do—some of them helped me make up excuses, others told me to be honest—yet it didn’t stop my uneasiness. The peak of my panic? I googled “What to do if you get caught cheating on a quiz.”

The answer was short and simple, “Be honest.”

I decided to follow Google’s advice.

That day of the appointment felt like the day of my death penalty. My best friends crossed their fingers as I walked into my instructor’s office. I told him what happened. The result was somehow better than I expected. My points did get deducted, but I also earned respect from my professor for being honest.

I learned from this —and I hope my friends will learn too— that being given an opportunity to do a quiz online doesn’t mean that we’re given an opportunity to cheat. No, we still need to follow the guidelines and put an effort to the quiz, not depend on our friend’s answers. But if cheating happens and you get a call from the professor as a result, just be honest. All those excuses will make the lie more obvious. Yes, it might save you for a week, but you won’t realize that our professor actually knows that you committed two sins—cheating and lying.

It won’t save you from a deep hole, it will make it bigger.

I’m glad I decided to be honest. I may have lost all the points on my quiz, but that 20 minute appointment gave me a lesson that lasts lifetime.