I'm taking the last and hardest exams of my master degree. During the exams we aren't allowed to use anything else but our brain. Cheating is pretty easy though: one has the lecture notes and all the past exams with solutions on the phone and can easily consult them without being caught, therefore the majority of the students does it. I scored pretty good on the first exam but didn't get the best mark like some cheaters did. I feel at a disadvantage here with respect to the majority of my colleagues who will take better grades in these exams and I'll end up with the US equivalent of a C
My main problem here is my disadvantage towards everyone else, especially in PhD application where the transcript of records plays a role.
I also firmly believe that the cheaters will be be caught sooner or later by showing their own incompetence when they for example do research, but this isn't helpful since they may have been given the chance to do research instead of me.
So should I put morals aside and simply go there and cheat if I need to? Is there any justification for someone to do it?
I never did it so far but this time I've taken I've been very tempted.
I can't actually think of any way of justifying me cheating in the next exams. On the other hand I'm not having a fair competition at all here and even if I know some of them are better physicists than me and I'd finish behind them anyway I also know that some of them are worse than me.
I know I'm basically asking if cheating can be condoned, can it?
I don't want to report them, I probably don't have the guts to do it, especially because it's such a socially accepted practice.
Do I have any alternatives beside taking the exams while pretending other students don't exist, pass the exams and go on without looking back?