A Cheat Sheet on Cheating

Written By: Rachel Strong
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Senior projects are coming due and finals are coming up. Spring has sprung, and with spring comes Spring Fever and Senioritis and skipped classes and missing assignments. There is one thing, however, that can turn those dropping grades around-finals.

For some seniors, passing finals means the difference between graduating or getting a diploma after completing a summer school course. For students who are not seniors, bad finals can mean anything from a lower GPA (which may exclude your student from a scholarship) to having to repeat a grade.

With all this pressure to succeed, some students may turn to cheating to achieve success during this finals season.

Cheating has come a long way since we wrote answers on our palms and erasers-the attitude regarding cheating has changed as well. To today's teens, cheating isn't considered stealing (which it is), cheating is no big deal-especially if it achieves the desired results.

Cell phones and text messaging have brought cheating into the 21st century. Phones on vibrate or using the "mosquito" ring tone (which cannot be heard by adults over 30), students can text each other test answers without a teacher noticing.

Cheating continues to be very low-tech as well. There are still answers and crib sheets being written on arms, hands, 3x5 cards and the like-and sitting around the bell-curve setter is still also popular. When teachers leave the room, requests for answers fly around the room... just like when we were in school.

But even low-tech, "traditional" cheating techniques have changed. Girls have started writing test answers on their chest, or hiding crib sheets in their bra. When a teacher-especially a male teacher-asks to see her cheat sheet, she run to the principal with a sexual harassment charge.

However, there are steps we can take not only to prevent cheating but to eliminate the "need" for cheating.

First, start study groups now. Have your student ask his or her teachers for study sheets for the final. This eliminates the need for last-minute cramming sessions. Once you have the study sheets, sit down and study with your child. If you need to, have your child teach the subject to you.

Also, offer to host a study group during a weekend or an evening. Make sure your students have a room and plenty of "brain food" (both healthy and not) to facilitate studying. You will probably hear a lot of laughter, and you should step in every once and a while to make sure everyone is mostly on task, but for the most part, stay out of the way.

During finals week itself, let your child have some scheduled (usually an hour or two) down-time to allow your student to rest and re-coup. Make sure your student gets plenty of sleep as well. Finals week is not the time for late-night cram sessions and certainly no parties.

Before your student leaves for school, make sure to glance at his or her wardrobe. Unless you're in Alaska or there is a freak cold snap, late spring is not the time for long-sleeved shirts. (You may want to check for an acute attack of ink poisoning on arms.)

Just for finals week, you may want to think about confiscating your child's cell phone during school hours to remove the temptation of texting answers to or receiving answers from classmates. Make sure your student has a little address book full of phone numbers (since no one can remember phone numbers anymore since they are programmed into the phones). Also make sure your student goes to school with a handful of quarters so he or she can use the public payphone if he gets done early and needs a ride home from Mom or Dad.

Lastly, make sure your student knows where you stand on cheating, and that all you care about is that she does her best. She may be less likely to cheat if she knows she doesn't have to ace the final to "buy" your love.

Be prepared. The Boy Scouts have it right. If your student is prepared and has worked hard, be proud of whatever grade he or she earns.

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