How to prevent cheating on online exams?

People generally assume that online exams encourage cheating. What can you do to prevent cheating and plagiarism on online tests? It seems impossible to completely prevent participants from cheating with all the advanced technology. But we have some tips and tricks that help prevent cheating. They might even make your online tests more cheat-free than paper tests!

prevent cheating on online exams
Written by Priscila Marketing
Posted on
Reading time 5 minutes

How people cheat on online exams

Usually, participants cheat when taking online tests by searching for answers in other tabs while keeping the test open on the main tab. They can do this by copy-pasting the learning content into a search engine to find the answers [1].

Another way people cheat is with text messages. They can either share the test with other test takers or ask them for the answers. They can send parts of the text, screenshots, or even photos of the test taken with a smartphone camera.

Top 10 tips and tricks to prevent cheating in an online exam

1. Randomize questions

In online exams, the questions often appear in the same sequence. To prevent this, you can randomize your questions.

How does that work in practice? First, you need to add a lot of questions to your online exam. Then, set up your test to select only some of these questions for each test taker. In this way, your participants will get a different selection of questions.

2. Block copy-pasting

Choose an online exam tool that doesn’t allow participants to copy-paste text from the page. That will make it harder for them to search for the answer in another tab.

3. Set a timer

You can set a timer for the whole test

Cheating (just like lying) can take some time. When participants are adequately prepared for their exams, they don’t need to think for a long time about the right answer. Unprepared (cheating!) exam takers would need more time to finish their exams. A solution is to set a timer. You can set a timer for the whole test or set a timer per question. So hurry up, the clock is ticking! No time for cheating.

4. Problem-solving questions

Problem-solving questions do not rely only on memorizing basic information. They require an understanding of the processes and relationships between them. These answers cannot easily be found in a textbook or on the Internet. You can do this in your exam by using free text questions, for example.

5. Hide the results

Showing answers might be useful for participants, so they know what they did wrong, but it also has a downside. They could pass that information on to others. The best option to prevent this is to hide all the answers (do not show them on the result page of your test).

6. Identity check

Cheating can also happen when a participant asks someone to take the exam for him or her. One solution is to ask several questions to verify the participant’s identity before taking the exam.

7. Disable auto-complete

You can disable the auto-complete function in a regular browser, so it does not show the answer someone has typed before (if the participants are using the same devices in different rounds). Here’s how to do it in Google Chrome.

Big brother is watching you

8. Online proctoring

With online proctoring, participants are watched by a proctor or supervisor while they take an exam. When you don't have the option to proctor an exam physically, you could use any program with a screen sharing feature. It could be Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, or WebEx. This way, you can keep an eye on your participants while they take the test. Big Brother is watching you 😁.

9. Safe Exam Browser

We also recommend using a safe browser. Safe Exam Browser (SEB) [2] is a program that allows teachers, employers, or whoever creates online tests to sleep well at night 😴. It basically disables all other applications, so the participants cannot cheat their way to success. The process of setting it up and get it ready for your participants can be quite a bit challenging, though.

10. Plagiarism checkers

There are many plagiarism checkers [5] online that you can use to scan the text submitted by your participants (if you are using free text questions). This way, you can find out all about their real sources of inspiration😆.

Easy LMS checks off most of the tips

How can I prevent cheating on an online test with Easy LMS?

Out of the ten tips and tricks to prevent cheating, East LMS checks off ✅ most of them. Here’s how you can prevent cheating with our online Learning Management System:

  • Randomize questions from a question bank.
  • Schedule the exam for a specific time frame.
  • Set a timer per exam or question.
  • Use different question types, including free text questions.
  • Hide the answers and results at the end.
  • Verify the identity of the participants.
  • Block copy-pasting.

Read more about our Exams

Combine Easy LMS with other tools:

  • Safe Exam Browser: make your online exam only available for participants who have downloaded the Safe Exam Browser on their computer.
  • Video conferencing tools: combine Easy LMS with any video conferencing tool to view your participants’ screens and webcams while taking an online exam.
  • Online proctoring tools: hire professional online proctoring services to oversee your exams, such as ProctorU [3] or ProctorExam [4].
  • Plagiarism checkers: use a plagiarism checker to help you grade the answers to the free text questions, like Quetext. 

Useful resources

  1. Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center
  2. Safe Exam Browser
  3. ProctorU
  4. ProctorExam

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