Cheating on nursing exams - page 5

What would you do if you found out people were cheating on nursing exams? I don't mean just copying during the tests, but I've seen people share questions from the previous semester, since some... Read More

  1. by   Jules A
    Its very surprising to me that some people don't share our concern over students cheating. I do agree that my main focus is on my own conduct but cheating is a huge problem/danger that I feel needs to be addressed.

    I believe that the professors are aware on some level and what I can't understand is why they give the same exact exam for make-ups so the same group of people just rotated a few "absent" members for every exam. Having even a few hints or pointers definitely makes a difference. As a student, being able to review the test and understand the questions I missed is crucial so when they keep using the same exams it is problematic in many ways, imo. It seems to me that outside of nursing school the professors made make-up exams either oral or essay in an effort to encourage everyone not to miss the scheduled exam. I'm with the person that said zero tolerance but in our society where everyone sues everyone and PR is so important I doubt that would fly.
  2. by   robred
    Quote from MiaNJ
    Thanks for your advice. Fortunately, I do put lots of energy in my studies and have managed to do very well so far. I don't start school again until next week, so I'm on a little break. I haven't seen a nursing student act irresponsibly, but I and some other students have noticed how several students (who we suspect cheat on tests since they score so high, yet don't know answers to some basic questions when asked by the clinical instructors), don't seem to care much about their clinical experience or patient care. There are numerous small examples, but in general, if you observed these students' behaviors and comments, you get a sense that they really don't enjoy caring for patients. I know that nursing is a popular career choice now ,and there are people who just seem to want to get into the field because they think there are lots of jobs with great pay.

    The problem is that the tests are what enable students to pass, since clinicals are not graded. The instructors give a pass or fail grade,but most instructors don't want to fail students even if they feel they are not doing well. They give them warnings, but they also don't see all mistakes or lack of caring from some students.


    Two thoughts....

    After 10 years on the job, I've seen many physicians, technologists, and nurses/nursing assistants who "really don't enjoy caring for patients". These providers have been on the job both many more years than I and several years less. It's a fact of life; ready yourself for this reality. Again, the bottom line .... is that 'uncaring' provider endangering the safety of the client? Secondly, it's at the discretion of the prof/instructor on whether to pass/fail a student. I, too, had concerns like yours as a student more than 10 years ago. Years of experience have opened my eyes to the reality of the bottom line...'is the safety of the client the primary concern'?
  3. by   live_N_scrubs
    When I was in nursing school, I knew of at least 4 people who were cheating on exams. They would take turns going into the exam first, and then write down what they remembered on the test for others to memorize. This was possible because the way the testing schedule was set up, the class had a whole week to take an exam. These people were getting near perfect scores everytime. I finally got so frustrated that I went to the head of the nursing department and told her everything I knew. She basically said that she could not do anything about it and she reassured me that these people would never pass their boards. It has been a year now that I graduated from nursing school and every single one of them who cheated on exams have passed thier state boards. It scares me to think these people are practicing RN's now.
  4. by   justpoorfect
    I do not agree with the simplistic statement that students who cheat on exams = bad nurses. The reality is so much more complex and prone to subjectivity. For instance, we can debate the relative value of testing. Is it ever 100% accurate in measuring student knowlege, comprehension, ability to learn, retention .... etc., etc.? Or does it just show the student has mastered/not mastered the MINIMUM of information presented prior to the test? Making a good guess counts! These objective measurements are requirements of the curriculum, accreditidation bodies, and so forth.

    The educator must have some room for judging the students "holistically", if you will. Does the student attend regularly? Sleep during lecture? Have ability to balance work/school/family/study time? Can they seek out answers on their own? Have they formed symbiotic relationships with peers? Do they have compassion? Recognize their limitations or seek to expand those limits? Do they desire to continue on in a dynamic and challenging area or focus on a less hectic career in an area of great need? (Both types are in demand.)

    Then there are differences in teaching styles, expectations, expertise, what they perceive learning to be....

    Once an RN, the "cheater" still faces "tests" on a daily basis, and must have the skills to seek out answers from preceptors, protocols, texts, new experiences and observations, etc. (This is the scientific "Knowlege Base" we hear so much about, an established "cheat sheet".) Additionally, periodic reviews and BON oversight is ongoing.

    In other words, there are protections in place to weed out bad nurses all along the chain...

    I doubt you will get any self-admitting cheaters to post here to gloat on how they succeeded in beating the system, as anyone very interested in all this is surely seeking to promote and enhance their growth in the field.

    JMO
  5. by   MiaNJ
    Quote from justpoorfect
    I do not agree with the simplistic statement that students who cheat on exams = bad nurses. The reality is so much more complex and prone to subjectivity. For instance, we can debate the relative value of testing. Is it ever 100% accurate in measuring student knowlege, comprehension, ability to learn, retention .... etc., etc.? Or does it just show the student has mastered/not mastered the MINIMUM of information presented prior to the test? Making a good guess counts! These objective measurements are requirements of the curriculum, accreditidation bodies, and so forth.

    The educator must have some room for judging the students "holistically", if you will. Does the student attend regularly? Sleep during lecture? Have ability to balance work/school/family/study time? Can they seek out answers on their own? Have they formed symbiotic relationships with peers? Do they have compassion? Recognize their limitations or seek to expand those limits? Do they desire to continue on in a dynamic and challenging area or focus on a less hectic career in an area of great need? (Both types are in demand.)

    Then there are differences in teaching styles, expectations, expertise, what they perceive learning to be....

    Once an RN, the "cheater" still faces "tests" on a daily basis, and must have the skills to seek out answers from preceptors, protocols, texts, new experiences and observations, etc. (This is the scientific "Knowlege Base" we hear so much about, an established "cheat sheet".) Additionally, periodic reviews and BON oversight is ongoing.

    In other words, there are protections in place to weed out bad nurses all along the chain...

    I doubt you will get any self-admitting cheaters to post here to gloat on how they succeeded in beating the system, as anyone very interested in all this is surely seeking to promote and enhance their growth in the field.

    JMO
    I understand what you're saying, and agree that tests don't always measure knowledge completely. HOWEVER, in my school and in probably many others, it's actually the test grades that determin if the student passes or fails the class. They must also pass clinicals, but these are much easier to pass since there are more allowances for mistakes and students are given warnings, and even when they make more mistakes that they should've corrected, the instructors may not always be there to witness it. I also know most instructors don't like to fail students in clinicals since they want to give them a chance, unless the student is absolutely careless or always absent, etc.
    As far as the students in the classrooms who may be cheating, i can tell you that several who are getting almost perfect grades on tests are often absent, leave the class early, or have a friend sign in for them. You may ask how do we know they are cheating, and I really don't know it's them, but it just seems odd that these same students don't know the answers to simple questions during clinicals. So to me, if they are passing tests with such high scores, and don't appear to know what they're doing in clinicals, it seems suspicious.
    Also, classroom tests, at least ours, involve alot of critical thinking, kind of like NCLEX questions, so if a person studies well, it should measure how much they know. They may be tricky sometimes, but they aren't extremely difficult to pass. So if a person feels the need to cheat, either they don't feel like studying, and just want to memorize questions and answers since they found a shortcut to studying, therefore they will not acquire as much knowledge as someone who actually studied well.
    Even if a student is a nervous test taker or confused by the type of questions, IF they put alot of effort in their studies, they should be able to pass. Maybe not everyone is an A student, but a person who studies enough should at least get a passing grade. So tests do serve a purpose. IF a person fails miserably in every test, they must not be studying at all. Or maybe nursing is just not for them, so the test still serves a good purpose.
    Of course, clinicals are important too, but if people can easily pass clinicals and not know enough nursing theory or pathophysiology, pharmacology, etc. then they may not be prepared for nursing either.
    So to me, those who are cheating on tests really are cheating themselves. But I also don't like the fact that it's happening in so many schools, and if people start to realize how many cheaters they are, then even the honest students may end up suffering stereotypes, etc. People will not think nursing is such a difficult degree to pass, and it bothers me, because I find it difficult. Yet, it's not impossible and I don't regret studying, since I think it's the only way to be a good nurse.
  6. by   Bala Shark
    Quote from MiaNJ
    I understand what you're saying, and agree that tests don't always measure knowledge completely. HOWEVER, in my school and in probably many others, it's actually the test grades that determin if the student passes or fails the class. They must also pass clinicals, but these are much easier to pass since there are more allowances for mistakes and students are given warnings, and even when they make more mistakes that they should've corrected, the instructors may not always be there to witness it. I also know most instructors don't like to fail students in clinicals since they want to give them a chance, unless the student is absolutely careless or always absent, etc.
    As far as the students in the classrooms who may be cheating, i can tell you that several who are getting almost perfect grades on tests are often absent, leave the class early, or have a friend sign in for them. You may ask how do we know they are cheating, and I really don't know it's them, but it just seems odd that these same students don't know the answers to simple questions during clinicals. So to me, if they are passing tests with such high scores, and don't appear to know what they're doing in clinicals, it seems suspicious.
    Also, classroom tests, at least ours, involve alot of critical thinking, kind of like NCLEX questions, so if a person studies well, it should measure how much they know. They may be tricky sometimes, but they aren't extremely difficult to pass. So if a person feels the need to cheat, either they don't feel like studying, and just want to memorize questions and answers since they found a shortcut to studying, therefore they will not acquire as much knowledge as someone who actually studied well.
    Even if a student is a nervous test taker or confused by the type of questions, IF they put alot of effort in their studies, they should be able to pass. Maybe not everyone is an A student, but a person who studies enough should at least get a passing grade. So tests do serve a purpose. IF a person fails miserably in every test, they must not be studying at all. Or maybe nursing is just not for them, so the test still serves a good purpose.
    Of course, clinicals are important too, but if people can easily pass clinicals and not know enough nursing theory or pathophysiology, pharmacology, etc. then they may not be prepared for nursing either.
    So to me, those who are cheating on tests really are cheating themselves. But I also don't like the fact that it's happening in so many schools, and if people start to realize how many cheaters they are, then even the honest students may end up suffering stereotypes, etc. People will not think nursing is such a difficult degree to pass, and it bothers me, because I find it difficult. Yet, it's not impossible and I don't regret studying, since I think it's the only way to be a good nurse.
    I find your reasoning unvalid in pointing out the students who never attend class are cheating..When I was in school, I had classmates who did not attend classes frequently but just read the book...They often got the highest marks..Why? I think because they were extremely intelligent people..So you are pointing the finger at your classmates who might not be cheating..To accuse someone of cheating if a big thing, especially if you do not have proof and espeically if you are assuming!
  7. by   MiaNJ
    Quote from goats'r'us
    IMHO, what you describe isn't cheating. previous exam papers were a readily available study aid where i went to school, and if the teachers didn't bother to change the exam between years, then that was their problem.

    i think it's ridiculous to show exam questions and say 'don't write this down'. that's like placing the exam paper in front of everyone and saying 'hey! this is the exam paper. i want you all to read this, but don't you dare remember it'.

    i would have no problem taking down the questions and answers, and i'd have no problem with anyone else doing it either.
    Well, I disagree, because it IS cheating if a person knows ahead of time the EXACT questions and answers to a test. If this wasn't cheating, then why aren't the NCLEX EXACT questions and answers printed on a book so everyone can study them, and pass the test? They aren't because it's cheating, and also against copyright laws. Why do they make people sign when taking NCLEX that they will not share any questions with anyone? It's cheating, and against the law.

    The reason they don't allow us to right down the answers during review, is the same reason we don't get the exam forms back, because they don't want people to distribute them to the next class. They consider this cheating, and it is. If students were to break in to a professor's office (which has happened in other school, not necessarily nursing) and steal a test before time, it's considered cheating.
    You seem to confusing writing down questions/answers for YOUR own review for the final, etc, vs. distributing them to students who have not taken the exam yet. This is indeed cheating. It may seem foolish to you for the teachers not to allow students to write down the answers, but some professors do this because they will not change exams for next semester, and don't want the questions/answers to leak to the next students, or else they won't bother to study.

    The reason for the Phillipine scandal where several students were caught cheating on their licensing exam, was precisely because they had access to the questions and answers ahead of time. IF there were no problem with this, then they wouldn't have charges held against them, and all the other students who took the exam and didn't cheat didn't have to suffer the consequences and take the exam all over again.
  8. by   peds4now
    Well, I personally think liars and cheaters should be kicked out of school and nursing. It is an insult to me, my effort and intelligence, and nursing when others cheat. Those who say don't worry about what others do, don't you realize how stupid many people see nurses as being? And how stupid a person has to be to have to cheat to get through school? It's disgusting. They will probably manage the NCLEX somehow and become another lousy nurse dragging down our profession.As for memorizing ?s in order to share with future students, that sounds dumb but isn't cheating. It's fine to remember questions, and it makes sense to remember them for your own use, because teachers do reuse them on finals. I think it reflects badly on the intelligence of many teachers that they cannot write new exam questions from time to time! I did see a classmate deliberately stash a paper under his scantron before a test last semester. While everyone was putting their backpacks at the front of the room (obviously cheating is an issue in my school...), I simply lifted up his scantron and said quietly but firmly "get rid of that now". He got rid of it, and after a week or 2 of avoiding each other we were friendly.
  9. by   MiaNJ
    Quote from schooldays
    Well, I personally think liars and cheaters should be kicked out of school and nursing. It is an insult to me, my effort and intelligence, and nursing when others cheat. Those who say don't worry about what others do, don't you realize how stupid many people see nurses as being? And how stupid a person has to be to have to cheat to get through school? It's disgusting. They will probably manage the NCLEX somehow and become another lousy nurse dragging down our profession.As for memorizing ?s in order to share with future students, that sounds dumb but isn't cheating. It's fine to remember questions, and it makes sense to remember them for your own use, because teachers do reuse them on finals. I think it reflects badly on the intelligence of many teachers that they cannot write new exam questions from time to time! I did see a classmate deliberately stash a paper under his scantron before a test last semester. While everyone was putting their backpacks at the front of the room (obviously cheating is an issue in my school...), I simply lifted up his scantron and said quietly but firmly "get rid of that now". He got rid of it, and after a week or 2 of avoiding each other we were friendly.
    I agree with you, that cheating students who eventually manage to pass the NCLEX will someday make the nursing profession seem less worthy or trusted.
    But as far as remembering questions, I am not referring to remembering for your own use. I do that also, remember exam questions. But it's cheating to share the questions AND answers with future students, Especially if they will be given the EXACT same test, thus they will not need to study at all, but just memorize these questions and answers. If it weren't considered cheating, the the profs. wouldn't bother to count the test exams afterwards to make sure no one steals one and distributes them to future students.
    They seem to fail to realize that students can remember alot of questions and share them anyway. It's sadder to me that if they do realize this, they just don't care. It's just not fair and it makes getting the degree just easier for future students, which could eventually make for less knowledgable nurses since they didn't have to study more in depth.
  10. by   Nurse-o-Matic
    If Nursing Instructors would change the tests yearly, this would help cut down greatly on the cheating. I know it's alot of work to write an exam, but how about using the testbanks from the new text additions we had to buy? I once checked out an 11-year old nursing textbook from the school library when I lost my new addition. Lo and behold, the majority of the exam questions were right out of this old text. I could read the chapter summaries and ace the exams. I showed my prof, who said it's simply too much effort to write new exams. Yeah, but why require the latest texts and then test with the ancient material?!?
  11. by   MiaNJ
    Quote from robred
    Two thoughts....

    After 10 years on the job, I've seen many physicians, technologists, and nurses/nursing assistants who "really don't enjoy caring for patients". These providers have been on the job both many more years than I and several years less. It's a fact of life; ready yourself for this reality. Again, the bottom line .... is that 'uncaring' provider endangering the safety of the client? Secondly, it's at the discretion of the prof/instructor on whether to pass/fail a student. I, too, had concerns like yours as a student more than 10 years ago. Years of experience have opened my eyes to the reality of the bottom line...'is the safety of the client the primary concern'?
    Thanks for your insight. You have good points, but I do believe that there are instances where an 'uncaring' attitude might endanger the safety of a patient. I have seen this myself where nurses didn't answer the bell of a pt. who they think is annoying or not really in pain but just want to press the bell. They don't really know when there is apiont where the patient really may need them. I know some patients can be annoying but that shouldn't take away our responsiblity in responding to the patient.
    But even if just an 'uncaring attitude' doesn't always endanger the safety of a patient, I think it can affect the patients overall well being and healing. I've read studies on how just a caring attitude or giving a patient a smile or asking them how they are today or making small talk for a few min (since I know nurses are busy) often makes the patient feel better. IT's about the 'human touch'. I think that's a core value of nursing- caring, and it's not just about protecting a patient's safety, but about the 'quality' of their care while they are in the hospital. Some nurses may feel they don't have time for that, but even if they are busy, it only takes a second to tell someone hello, how are you this morning, with a smile or asking them if they are comfortable, not just going in and giving meds silently and not even smiling. I've seen this happen, and I think it's sad that some nurses maybe have become calloused. It may be more understandable if they've been in the job for many years, but to see nursing students have this uncaring attitude even before they become nurses is truly sad and makes me think they don't really want to be a nurse.
  12. by   MiaNJ
    Quote from Bala Shark
    I find your reasoning unvalid in pointing out the students who never attend class are cheating..When I was in school, I had classmates who did not attend classes frequently but just read the book...They often got the highest marks..Why? I think because they were extremely intelligent people..So you are pointing the finger at your classmates who might not be cheating..To accuse someone of cheating if a big thing, especially if you do not have proof and espeically if you are assuming!
    I'm not pointing the finger at them, and I said that I'm not completely sure they are cheating. But it's just highly suspicious to me, as well as other fellow classmates who have noticed this, that some of these students who score very high on tests and are often not in class or leave early, often are the ones who make mistakes in clinicals and just don't seem to care enough about the patients. I think there should be a balance, of both doing good in tests and clinicals. This doesn't mean everyone needs to be an A student, but they should be able to pass the tests and also do well in clinicals. In the end it's the clinical instructors' to judge if the students will pass clinicals, but like I said, they often don't see some of the behaviour or carelessness of these students. You may think we are just jealous of them, and maybe pick on their mistakes, But that's not true at all. We all make mistakes but we put a great effort in clinicals, and it's clear to us that some students don't. Also, its not only because we know they got high grades, because I also get high grades (w/o cheating) and have other classmates who get high grades and seem to know how to execute our skills/knowledge better at clinicals. We are not perfect either, but there have been times when the instructor has asked them a routine question (some that we studied in class) and these students were clueless. So obviously if they got such a high grade in the test it 'may' not have been because they studied the subject in more depth, but simply memorized whatever question they knew were on the test.
  13. by   Bala Shark
    Quote from MiaNJ
    I'm not pointing the finger at them, and I said that I'm not completely sure they are cheating. But it's just highly suspicious to me, as well as other fellow classmates who have noticed this, that some of these students who score very high on tests and are often not in class or leave early, often are the ones who make mistakes in clinicals and just don't seem to care enough about the patients. I think there should be a balance, of both doing good in tests and clinicals. This doesn't mean everyone needs to be an A student, but they should be able to pass the tests and also do well in clinicals. In the end it's the clinical instructors' to judge if the students will pass clinicals, but like I said, they often don't see some of the behaviour or carelessness of these students. You may think we are just jealous of them, and maybe pick on their mistakes, But that's not true at all. We all make mistakes but we put a great effort in clinicals, and it's clear to us that some students don't. Also, its not only because we know they got high grades, because I also get high grades (w/o cheating) and have other classmates who get high grades and seem to know how to execute our skills/knowledge better at clinicals. We are not perfect either, but there have been times when the instructor has asked them a routine question (some that we studied in class) and these students were clueless. So obviously if they got such a high grade in the test it 'may' not have been because they studied the subject in more depth, but simply memorized whatever question they knew were on the test.
    You know how people do well in class without attending class? They just ask for the notes from their classmates; that is one way..Another way, is that they just read the book. Some students can read the book and absorb a lot of material; some are extremely intelligent at that..Plus clinical and classroom theory are two different things..The students might have book smarts but can not do clinicals well..Some students can do the clinical well but fail the classroom portion..You cannot assume since so and so is not doing well in clinical it means that they are cheating..That is ridiculous! I seen some students who do very well in the classroom tests and fail clinical..
    Last edit by Bala Shark on Aug 28, '06

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