Firstly, I do not believe this to be a duplicate of the related recently posted question due to the key fact that that user was anonymous to his class and I am not.

This has happened 3 times now. While taking standardized tests, someone cheats. These aren't just classroom tests, but rather officially proctored, nation-wide tests. The first time, some students had significantly more time, both starting before the official call to start, and ending after the official end. The Proctor was pretty relaxed, and either didn't notice / didn't care. The second time, someone's phone went off twice, and on full volume (the student in question had to stand up and manually turn the phone off). The Proctor did not alert his superiors, although many students had lost a significant amount of time and the incident negatively impacted our scores. We were told beforehand that any distractions during would be an immediate invalidation of the test (we even had to keep our phones in a box), but this seemed to go unnoticed. The third time was similar.

I complained to my peers afterward, and they all told me not to tell anyone or do anything for fear that it would cancel or negatively impact our scores (most of them did well). I didn't feel comfortable with this, but I didn't report anything both for fear of both my reputation being impacted, and for fear of my scores being cancelled on a test that I studied significantly for and potentially did well on. If I were to report any of these incidents, most people would immediately know that it was me who had filed the report, and I would be severely socially ostracised. I did/do not desire this at all. In hindsight, I should have kept it to myself, not expressed my worries to my friends / acquaintances, but unfortunately this did not happen.

In a situation like this, what is the appropriate course of action post-disclosure? Report the student in question and risk negative reputation, a cancellation of scores, and hard work put in (but do the right thing and have fairness reign), or keep the cheating to oneself (and preserve reputation but carry a dishonest weight)?

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    "The first time, some students had significantly more time": Do you know that they might have been allotted more time because of a disability? Dec 3, 2017 at 11:00
  • They started while the proctor was reading instructions, closing their book when he looked around. It was clear that they were cheating. They worked through the 'please close your test books now.' The proctor also asks at the beginning if anybody has extra-time needs etc.
    – Equinox
    Dec 3, 2017 at 16:26
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    Based on your comments, this is a question about college admission exams (which are nominally off-topic here), However, given the nature of the question could still be applied to exams at all educational levels, I'd leave this question open.
    – aeismail
    Dec 3, 2017 at 17:01
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    Yes, sometimes students are assigned more time because of some disability. A few years ago, when teaching at a university in Canada, the university notified me that a student provided a medical letter proving that he has some issues with concentration, and that I should give him extra time due to his disability. It is quite possible that this happened here and in that case, the university will not tell the other students.
    – Phil
    Dec 4, 2017 at 16:43
  • I know for a fact that is not what happened, but anyway, this discussion is beside the original question.
    – Equinox
    Dec 4, 2017 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


I don't know in which country you live. If a phone ring, this is not cheating because a phone that rings does not provide any information to a student. However, if a student is using his phone to look up at information on the internet, take phone calls or send messages, or look at answers stored on his phone, this is of course cheating. So if the phone just rings, I don't think that it really matters.

About ending after the official end, if it is just a few minutes, maybe that the professor just decided to give a few more minutes to give a chance to those who could not finish the exam on time. I don't know about your country, but in my native country (Canada), it is not something unusual that a professor will give 5 more minutes to students if he sees that many of them have not finished the exam. In that case, this would not be called cheating, as long as every student can have this extra time.

So, if you think that it is cheating, then you can report it (if you think you are OK with the possible consequences). But from your description, I am not sure that we can really call this cheating.

  • Having your phone ring during a high-pressure test situation will break concentration for others. Especially when you have been told to not bring your phone (and/or mute it), this is an obvious case of "I don't really care about anybody but myself", which can (and probably will) negatively impact the score of other students.
    – janh
    Dec 3, 2017 at 11:05
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    @janh A "high-pressure test" is a test where you are not well-prepared. The best way to succeed in an exam is to prepare yourself well and sleep well. If a cell phone ringing for a few seconds bother you in a perhaps 1 or 2 hours test, I think that it means that you are not well prepared.
    – Phil
    Dec 3, 2017 at 15:31
  • We were specifically told beforehand to silence our phones and place them in a common box. As janh said, this disturbs everybody's concentration and will affect scores. As for the extra time, these are nationwide tests. Millions are taking it on the same time, and 5-20 extra minutes has a significant impact.
    – Equinox
    Dec 3, 2017 at 16:09
  • Sorry, I live in the United States. Massachusetts.
    – Equinox
    Dec 3, 2017 at 16:27

If you really wanted to do something then you should have voiced your points to the relevant authority (head proctor, Dean whoever) at the end of the exam.

Speaking to your peers after - in the canteen , bar wherever, is just a discussion / rant that is not productive in reducing / controlling cheating, but dooes allow you and your colleagues to relieve stress after the exam.

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