So for one of my computer science classes, we have a WhatsApp chat among all students in the class to network and help each other out with questions regarding homework, or if we have any confusion on assignments. It's a given that we can get help on these types of assignments.

But exams are proctored online, and getting help on them is strictly forbidden. However, some students in the chat have posted to the WhatsApp chat during their proctored exams, posting photos of the exams, the questions, and receiving help from others during their exams.

Why would I care about this? So normally, when a student cheats on an exam, it would have no effect on another student because the two overall students' grades are unrelated. However, the exams are curved. So these students that cheated on the exams **not only have an unfair advantage, ** but they also put other students at a disadvantage. Them doing exceptionally better than they would have has the potentiality to reduce other students grades by up to 10-15% of what it would be. So if Student A would normally get a 65 because they don't know the content, they now get a 89, thus, throwing off the entire curve. However, student B who actually DID try his hardest and studied got an 74. Their grade would have been higher with the curve, but student A cheating disrupted the curve. As a result, student B gets an 79, where they would've had an 84 without the several cheaters with almost perfect exam scores at the top.

Personally, I hate to be 'that girl' that reports someone else like a snitch... But I worked so hard in this class. I studied for 6 hours every day before this exam, and got an 83... and these people admit in chat that they would probably fail if they didn't use WhatsApp (have it screenshotted-saying that exactly). So I worked so hard and got an 83. They cheated and got a solid 90, doing no studying, no hard work on their own part. They work full time, so they complain they don't have time. But how is that my fault, or the fault of the other students that the cheater makes different life choices, or chooses to put less time into school, and we as a result should suffer? That's my rationale for wanting to report them. I play fair, so why should we suffer because they don't?

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    I'm curious about how important and advanced your class and this exam was. I mean, how stupid can they be to cheat like that, leaving traces on a whats-app chat...
    – EigenDavid
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:28
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    Make sure you have all relevant screenshots. (I.e., all the ones demonstrating cheating.) It is apparently possible (or becoming possible) to remotely delete WhatsApp chat.
    – user2768
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:28
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    The students that provided responses may have also broken your University's guidelines. (Of course, that depends what the precise guidelines specify. Nonetheless, this points is probably worth raising.)
    – user2768
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:30
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    That must have been a fairly relaxed exam format if they were able to take pictures of the exam and use their phones during it.
    – JMac
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:52
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    I'm not sure the last half/rant of this question is necessary: We all know how curved tests work. Oct 31, 2017 at 18:36

4 Answers 4


The answer to the title question is:


(barring some sort of really bizarre circumstances that I am not able to think of right now).
The specifics of the situations does not make me change my answer in this case.

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    I agree completely - in fact I have had students communicate during and after an exam about cheating and, in most cases, have been able to do something about it.
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:02
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    Just from my school's code of honor... "An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do." Oct 31, 2017 at 16:26
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    @DanRomik (good point.) definitely report it. Would add to try and be as anonymous as you can be while doing so - even going so far as to remove as much personally identifying information from your profile here if you can. Some of your classmates may be unethical, but that doesn't make them stupid or ignorant of this site. Your profile and the question reveal your gender and location, for example.
    – Jeutnarg
    Oct 31, 2017 at 18:12
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    @JSowwy Report them as soon as possible. Nov 1, 2017 at 13:13
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    @JSowwy what more evidence is needed? I assume you have screenshots of the WhatsApp chat. As Tobias said, report them without further delay. Your goal is to help prevent future cheating and punish the cheating that has already occurred, not to trap people into committing more cheating.
    – Dan Romik
    Nov 3, 2017 at 2:05

There is absolutely no reason for you to hate being “that girl”. You need to understand that the mindset that being a “snitch” is a negative thing is a result of cultural conditioning that you have been subjected to. Probably historically there were good reasons for societies to associate negative feelings with snitching (e.g., resisting an evil king or dictator who makes stupid rules, and his cronies who reward people who snitch out citizens who violate those rules). Unfortunately today in modern democratic societies we are stuck with that anachronistic mindset even though the reasons for it are no longer even a little bit applicable.

So, you need to rethink your assumptions about what it means to be a snitch. In the context of your situation, complaining about the cheating will be doing a huge service not just to yourself but also to your honest peers, to your university and its reputation, to future employers of graduates of your university, and ultimately (although they are unlikely to see things that way) to the cheating students themselves, who will be taught a valuable lesson at a point in their lives when the stakes for dishonest behavior are still relatively low. I know it’s easier to say this advice than to follow it, but there is no reason for you to feel any guilt or other negative emotions about reporting the cheating. Whatever consequences are visited on the cheating students, they brought them on themselves and fully deserve them.

The only word of caution is that you must take great care to maintain your anonymity, to avoid social ostracism or other negative consequences for your complaint, which are a very real danger.

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    While I agree with the sentiment, i.e. that OP should report this behavior, I must disagree with your justification of being a snitch. "evil kings" and "stupid rules" are applicable to a wide range of subjects, regardless of the time period, and open to interpretation on individual basis. I think that "ratting others out" has a negative social connotation because it applies to people who "should mind their own business". I.e. third parties who based on their (incomplete?) perception of some (partially?) available information go on to create trouble for other people. Jan 15, 2018 at 11:35
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    Also (while, I too, agree) it is by no means totally anachronistic behaviour. The cold war wasn't that long ago. DDR and its STASI weren't that long ago. There is still many places/situations nowadays that are essentially similar to the evil king or dictator one. Admittedly, schools and universities and the like in western countries don't generally fall into that category.
    – fgysin
    Jan 18, 2018 at 9:54
  • @fgysin agreed.
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 19, 2018 at 7:53

To add to the other answer: Always- unless you don't want to risk retaking the exam yourself.

A couple of years ago, during a class-wide final coursework assessment for German, everyone had to write out their pre-prepared essays from memory.

(This was the old-GCSE exam in the UK, I guess an international equivalent would be an end-of-year exam in 'freshman' year).

I was among a mere handful of the class that had bothered to memorise their scripts in advance. On the day, we were allowed dictionaries on our desks, and 10 words on a sheet of paper as an aide memoir. However, about 55% of the class had brought their draft scripts in, and were copying directly from them.

Although this angered me, I figured that the drafts they'd written in advance still weren't good enough to merit a higher grade than they deserved, so I let it be.

About a week later, someone's parents complained to the school about the "unfair advantage" (ironically, the person who'd reported it had been one of the ones who cheated), and the school made the whole class resit the exam.

At this stage I'd already began to forget most of my script, so I had to put effort into memorising it again.

After the resit, a few of the cheaters' grades went down, but, as predicted, a few of the already-low grades remained relatively unchanged.

My new grade was only eight marks lower than the first had been, but that was enough to bring it down to an A rather than an A* (A+).

Your situation seems quite different, so I'd encourage you to report it, just try and keep the knowledge fresh in your mind, just in case you need to resit.


Some people cheating is unlikely to significantly sway the curve one way or other. By reporting this you will affect someone much more negatively than how they affected you. Also, if it ever gets out that you were the "snitch", you will incur a significant social standing hit and may very well be excluded from any future whatsapp groups for example.

  • 4
    I understand the sentiment, but "by reporting this you will affect someone (...) negatively" is not how it works; the cheaters know the consequences when deciding to cheat, any consequences of getting caught are always their own responsibility, never that of the reporter. The cheaters are not supposed to cheat in the first place and are thus affecting themselves negatively.
    – 11684
    Jan 14, 2018 at 12:23
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    @guest Are you serious? Nov 23, 2019 at 7:57

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