Editorial: Unwitting cheaters


    They are seemingly innocent questions, and they are common at BYU.

    ?Did you take the test? How was it? Was it hard??

    Because the Testing Center and Blackboard allow students to choose to take their test on one of several days, students in the same class often take the same test at different times and on different days.

    Of course, relatively few BYU students go so far as to smuggle cheat-sheets into the testing center or scribble answers on their palms before taking a test. But a great many ask the kinds of questions listed above, perhaps not realizing that asking such questions constitutes cheating as well.

    Granted, asking if a friend has taken a test is harmless. In knowing that a friend has taken a test, a student has no unfair advantage over his or her peers who must take the same test. But when students? questions go further, asking about the difficulty or the make-up of the test, the student is asking for information that was not available to the first person who took the test. In effect, a student with knowledge of the difficulty or make-up of the test has an unfair advantage over at least one of his or her peers.

    For example, two friends might enroll in the same class and study together for a test. Say one of the friends takes the test before the other. The student who has not yet taken the test might ask, ?How was it? Was it hard??

    If the student who has taken the test responds that the test was difficult, the other student will weigh what he or she knows about the other student ? the preparation, intelligence, etc. of the student ? and decide if more studying is necessary. If the first student says the test was easy, the second student may decide to just go ahead and take the test.

    BYU instructors would do well to follow the example of David Cherrington, professor of organizational behavior, organizational leadership and strategy in the Marriott School of Management.

    As the final question for each exam, Dr. Cherrington includes the following:

    ?The Honor Code policy for this exam is that you will not say anything about it to anyone, other than that you have taken it, except to the instructor.?

    Students must indicate they will abide by this policy in order to pass the exams. With a blizzard of tests on the horizon, BYU students and faculty should hold themselves to this standard of academic honesty.

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