Section C

How not to Cheat?

You're taking a science test and are unsure of an answer. While the teacher is busy, you notice you can see the test answers of the student next to you.

Would you look closer?

Are you a cheater?

More than half the kids in a national survey are. The "1998 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth" found that 7 out of every 10 high school kids have cheated on a test at least once. Including all grades, the number is more than 6 out of 10.

And reports of cheating are increasing. There's intense pressure for kids to succeed. Sometimes they feel they have to — at any cost.

Parents, teachers, even friends can put a lot of pressure on students to get good grades. Some parents threaten to punish for bad grades or offer rewards for good marks.

Most students think about cheating at some time. It could be copying someone else's answers; it could even be giving answers to somebody else.

"If they're doing really badly in a subject, that makes kids want to cheat so they can get a better grade," says first class Scout Ben Patrick, 11, from Troop 69, Palatine, Illinois.

David Kimwell, 16, of Provo, Utah, agrees, "Kids are driven to cheat when there is pressure to succeed."

But these kids also know that succeeding on a test by cheating is not really succeeding at all.

When students cheat, they are less likely to really understand their schoolwork. And when you don't understand your schoolwork, your grades will probably suffer; cheating can only get you so far.

The bottom line is: If you don't really learn it now, you'll probably have to learn it later!

Here's how not to cheat:

Talk to your parents. Think about the kinds of pressures they might be putting on you. Sometimes parents think rewarding or punishing will encourage kids to work harder, but often they don't encourage at all. Let your parents know how you feel, and let them know how they can reduce school stress for you, while still encouraging good grades.

Change your study habits. Have you sometimes felt the urge to cheat when you didn't study well enough for a test? Try changing your study habits. Study with a friend or have your parents help. Do not force all your studying into the last minute, and get a good night's sleep before a test. Finally, make practice tests so you can focus on those areas in which you need the most work.

Talk to your friends. If you feel stress to get good grades — and maybe cheat — because your friends get better grades, talk to them. Ask how they prepare for tests and suggest studying in a group. You might get some ideas from them.

An honest C will get you much further than a not-so-honest A. Face it: Cheaters never succeed — and pay a high price when caught.

Whether you're a junior school student or a young adult at college, get caught cheating and you'll pay the price — usually a very high one. Here's how schools handle cheaters:

For junior school students: a strict talk with the student and a call to the parents. Repeat cheaters are removed from in-school activities.

For middle school students: a zero or no grade on the assignment or the test on which the student cheated. Students may be removed from in-school activities, and parents will be told.

For university students, like those in Harvard, Cambridge, or Massachusetts: cheaters are normally required to leave for two back-to-back terms.