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12 Tips to Prevent Cheating On Tests

12 ways to prevent cheating on online tests:

    1. Detecting cell phones
    2. Helping reduce student test anxiety
    3. Using software to find leaked test questions on the Internet
    4. Detecting voices and sounds in the room
    5. Using a browser lock as an initial defense
    6. Implementing online exam proctoring software
    7. Verifying and monitoring student behavior with a webcam
    8. Providing explicit test rules
    9. Giving students clear instructions
    10. Offering 24/7/365 testing
    11. Emphasizing academic integrity and the honor code
    12. Analyzing reports to identify exam trends that may highlight academic dishonesty

Here’s how to stop exam cheating

1. Detect cell phone use and other devices with proctoring software

Students have access to more and more devices so it’s important to detect if students try to use their cell phone to look up test answers during the exam. Our proctoring software detects cell phones and other devices that access our test bank content during an online exam. This function helps deter students from using their phones during online exams.

2. Take steps to help reduce student test anxiety

It’s important to understand what causes student test anxiety before taking steps to help reduce it. A 2020 student survey indicated that many students feel anxious before an exam because they don’t know what to expect and they have technology concerns.

Two tips to help student test anxiety:

  1. Provide frequent practice tests to help students understand what to expect and ensure that their technology works correctly.
  2. Use online proctoring software that combines AI with human proctors to help support students during the exam.

Learn more about how to reduce student test anxiety using online learning technology.

3. Use software to find leaked test questions on the internet

Test banks and homework-help sites make it easy to find and share your test questions, and you may be surprised by how much of your content is available on the internet.

The goal is to find and take control of your your test questions before the test takes place.

Honorlock’s proctoring software searches the internet for leaked test questions and gives instructors simple steps to take control if any are found.  

4. Detect voices and sounds in the room

Use voice detection software that listens for specific keywords or phrases, such as “Hey Siri” or “OK Google,” to identify students who may be attempting to gain an unfair advantage. It then alerts a live remote proctor in real-time to pop into the online exam session via chat-box to intervene and redirect the student.

5. Use a browser lock as an initial defense

Browser lockdown software as an initial way prevent students from cheating on online tests. A browser lock is mainly used to restrict access to other sites and disable shortcuts and keyboard functions.

6. AI proctoring software and human proctors

Honorlock’s online exam proctoring combines AI with live proctors to help protect academic integrity while supporting students and faculty. The AI monitors each student’s online exam session and alerts a live, US-based proctor if potential academic dishonesty is detected.

This approach to online exam proctoring delivers a much less intimidating and non-invasive testing experience because a proctor will only intervene if the AI detects potential misconduct. 

7. Use video to monitor behavior and verify student ID

Use video proctoring to verify student ID, scan the testing room, and monitor student behavior during the exam.

8. Be explicit about rules for your online exams

Syllabi have gotten longer over the past couple of decades, as instructors try to cover every possible angle to ensure clarity only to discover that some students will still claim ignorance of class policies. That’s why it is crucial to provide explicit test rules and be clear in your expectations from the beginning of the term, with a reminder here and there as the weeks go by.

9. Provide clear test instructions

Explain what resources are permissible for students to access during their online proctored exam and which ones are not.

  • Are notes acceptable but not phones?
  • What is the scope of the content students will be expected to know?
  • How long will the exam last once they start?
  • Can they use any specific websites that the instructor allows?

Be sure to include these instructions when you set up your proctored exams so Honorlock proctors will know what is allowed and what is not.

10. Offer 24/7/365 support

It’s proven that students are more likely to cheat when they’re tired. Honorlock’s on-demand proctoring services allows students to take exams when they’re ready and on their schedule – 24/7/365—even if it’s at 2 am over Thanksgiving break. If they feel most alert and prepared at 2:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. is when they can take the test, confident that any questions they have about the process can be answered.

11. Create an honor code and remind students of the disciplinary procedure

Create your own honor code in addition to the institution’s. Studies show that the act of writing “I pledge that this is my own work,” or something similar, actually helps reduce cheating on exams.

In many schools, once you have referred a student’s work to the dean’s office or disciplinary committee, the case is out of your hands. Ensure that students know importance of academic integrity along with the what consequences will be enforced for academic dishonesty.

12. Use reporting to identify exam trends that may highlight cheating

Use reporting and recordings from online proctoring software to better understand how students are approaching your exams.

Here’s how a lecturer from University of Florida used Honorlock to identify trends and anomalies of test scores:

“After the second quiz in the third week of class, I had a ceiling effect that looked like a ski jump, with 80% of my students getting 100% on tests. I knew there was something seriously wrong. I began looking closely at who had missed which questions over the two quizzes. That’s when I realized I needed a proctoring solution of some kind. When I initially attempted to address the issue, I really didn’t even know enough to ask the right questions to get help… Honorlock was more than a tool to guard or block students from using inappropriate information. It was also a means to detect and determine many different ways that students approach the exams.” – Ryan P. Mears, PhD, Lecturer, University of Florida

Honorlock’s online exam proctoring software collects extensive data and provides actionable reports and time-stamped recordings within the LMS dashboard. The exam reports appear in an easy-to-read format that includes relevant student activity such as violations and any suspicious behavior.

Why do students cheat on exams?

We believe that the majority of students approach exams with integrity and honesty. We support students by providing a fair and equitable testing environment.

At the same time, a small percentage of students may justify the opportunity to use “unauthorized sources” during an online exam. They may rationalize cheating because they think other students are doing it, they don’t believe they’ll get caught, and even normalization by means of social media. 

Common reasons students cheat:


Students may need a certain GPA to maintain a scholarship or to avoid academic probation. They may fear disappointing their parents. They may have to work full-time and not be able to focus on doing the work that they would otherwise have time to do. 


Students are conditioned from a young age to believe that we live in a competitive society. Think of how often we hear, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” We prefer, “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” but we recognize that the desire to outperform others can motivate those who believe they can’t “win” fairly to employ questionable tactics.

Lack of Preparation

For any number of the reasons described above that put pressure on students, simply not having done the work during the course of the semester (whether because they were doing paid work, focusing on extracurriculars, dealing with family trauma, or suffering from anxiety or depression) can tempt students to cheat on tests. Students also cheat more often when they are tired. 


Surveys tell us that students are more apt to cheat on online proctored exams than those monitored in a classroom. Some treat it like that proverbial moment when the teacher has to step out of the classroom during a traditional test, and suddenly, it’s a free-for-all. Many who would otherwise be honest find cheating harder to resist when it seems easy to do without getting caught.

Honorlock online proctoring services prevent cheating on online exams

Our approach to online proctoring benefits the institution and the learner

Students feel more pride in themselves when they earn their grades and believe their peers are doing the same. Faculty and schools protect their good names when they are known for robustly upholding academic integrity.

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