Due to some personal reasons, I didn't get to complete my semester end project. So I copied my friend's project and submitted it without major changes (I know I was a fool to do that). Now we are caught and my TA told us that both of our scores will be zero. I have begged the TA to give my friend his score, at least. I don't know what is going to happen. I am obviously going to fail this class, but I don't want my friend to fail it because of me. What should I do?

  • 6
    Did your friend hand you his project under the assumption that you would change large parts of the content? I think this changes the situation and should be brought up in the discussion with your professor as well.
    – Martijn
    Jan 2, 2016 at 23:56
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    Need way more details , like whether your friend knew you were going to copy his work.
    – neuronet
    Jan 3, 2016 at 4:36
  • It says the one who plagiarized and the one who helped in such action will get zero in the project and 5% of the scores will be reduced fro the final class score. The language problem wasn't for the rules, but for the whole class itself. I don't know if I should even continue studying here or not. Jan 3, 2016 at 12:26
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    I don't know if I should even continue studying here or not.No, you probably shouldn't. By your own admission, you are having serious difficulty understanding a required class—not just in accomplishing the work, but in understanding what is being asked. ("I have no idea about this where this class is going.") This difficulty will not magically go away; you have to address it, either by moving to another institution that teaches in your native language, or by first spending significant time improving your grasp of the local language.
    – JeffE
    Jan 3, 2016 at 19:38
  • 2
    Deleted flagged comments that were just moral judgements. Comments aren't for judging.
    – ff524
    Jan 4, 2016 at 10:26

5 Answers 5


Whether your friend deserves a grade or not depends whether he was a willing accomplice or an innocent victim. If he was a willing accomplice, then probably both of you failing the class is the best thing you can hope for (at least for most US universities, where there are consequences besides failing if the professor or TA chooses to report it). If he was a victim (he did not share his project with you with the intent that you could just copy it), then he certainly merits a grade.

In any case, the proper thing to do is for you to arrange to meet the professor in person, explain the situation, and apologize. If your friend was a knowing accomplice, both you and your friend should go together. Then it is up to the professor.

  • 2
    See also: academia.stackexchange.com/a/44203/19607
    – Kimball
    Jan 2, 2016 at 19:38
  • This is a class totally out of y head. Actually I am a foreigner student studying in China. So because of language problems, I have no idea about this where this class is going, but it's a class I must take. So for this project, I asked help from my friend so that I can take his material as a guide. But it was too difficult for me to work with and due to time limit, I just thought of copying it. Jan 3, 2016 at 11:25
  • Both of us have talked to the TAs. One of them is considering to give him some marks but the other one has not given any decision yet. I am really worried. And I am going to fail this class for sure. I will take this class again next semester but will this have a huge impact on my overall life and career? Jan 3, 2016 at 11:25
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    @srugglingmate Unless the professor is really hands off, the professor should make the final decision. (I would never let my TAs make these kinds of decisions.) Most professors, I think, are pretty understanding for a single cheating offense, particularly if the cheater confesses and seems genuinely sorry. Stress has made most people, including professors, do one thing or another in their life they later regret. So, I can't guarantee it, but I think your situation is one in which most professors would give you a 0, but take no further disciplinary actions.
    – Kimball
    Jan 3, 2016 at 16:33
  • @srugglingmate You need to check your school policies to be sure, but even if your professor reports it to the university, for a single offense, you will probably just have to have some unpleasant conversations and get a warning (in addition to failing the class). It's students who have a history of cheating that need to be dealt with more seriously.
    – Kimball
    Jan 3, 2016 at 16:36

The only thing you could really do is go talk to the professor and confess.

As far as your friend's grade goes, that is up to the professor. If you stole your friend's work then he certainly shouldn't be affected. If he was just helping you (which it doesn't sound like) then the professor might also take that into account.

You should expect to get a zero but I have seen a situation where the professor gave the student another chance (e.g., extended the deadline and allowed the student to redo the assignment) and didn't penalize the person who originally did the work.

Of course, you shouldn't expect any of these favorable outcomes since you admitted you are in the wrong but it is still good to always talk things through.


You don't give us enough info about your friend's role in it.

If he knew/helped/whatever and didn't stop it then he will get (and deserves) the zero right along with you.

If not then he may still get the zero, though he doesn't fully deserve it, and that would basically put you on the "worst friends ever" list for doing that behind his back.

If the friend didn't know you were doing it then you need to be not only confessing that you cheated, but also confessing that you stole it from him without his knowledge or consent and making sure they know he was totally innocent all around. Then and only then is there a shot of him not getting a zero.


Your friend isn't failing because of you; they are failing because they committed a serious breach of academic ethics in giving you their assignment to copy or even to use as a guide. By acting as your accomplice they are as much a party to your cheating as you are and, as such, they do not deserve any marks.

You and your friend can do little but beg for leniency this time. In future, do not put your friends in the position of choosing between acting ethically and helping you out by cheating.

  • 1
    I think this is going to affect our friendship greatly, I don't even have guts to face him now. Moreover I am going to fail this course. I am so much depressed about it. But I will make sure that i will never in my life commit such misconduct. Jan 3, 2016 at 13:04

but I don't want my friend to fail it because of me

Glad to see you repent your action. If you are looking for a safe play, I can assure you there is none if your TA is sincere in their words. The ideal thing to do is to

Submit the case before a competent authority (your professor in this case) and be truthful to the investigation.

If the premise is correct in the question, your friend will be granted with the grade he deserves. Bear in mind that there will be consequences for you, severity of which depends on the particular country or the university and your professor.

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