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cheating (and the cheating cheaters who do it)

sporkster

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    I'm posting about this now before I start up again after my first round of exams and stop thinking about it. I'm concerned about cheating at my school and I'm *nearly* certain that there are people doing it. I'm talking about the old crib-note-check-during-the-exam-bathroom-break trick. I'm surprised that people are willing to stoop to such a low level in order to get ahead, and I'm disappointed about social darwinism and "scum" rising to the top. Damnit, is that what it takes to be at the head of the class and match good residencies?

    I'd like to know what what different schools do to try to keep this from happening, or if anyone has any new ideas about how to stop it.
     

    Fantasy Sports

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      sporkster said:
      I'm posting about this now before I start up again after my first round of exams and stop thinking about it. I'm concerned about cheating at my school and I'm *nearly* certain that there are people doing it. I'm talking about the old crib-note-check-during-the-exam-bathroom-break trick. I'm surprised that people are willing to stoop to such a low level in order to get ahead, and I'm disappointed about social darwinism and "scum" rising to the top. Damnit, is that what it takes to be at the head of the class and match good residencies?

      I'd like to know what what different schools do to try to keep this from happening, or if anyone has any new ideas about how to stop it.

      I havent heard about it at my school, but the thing is, there is such a HUGE volume of information that its unlikely a simple cribnote will make any appreciable difference in their grade.

      Plus, since there is nothing I can do about it, I choose not to care.
       

      kinetic

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        Schools are aware of it and do nothing about it, even if the person is caught. That is because, as many people have explained on the forums before, this becomes legal matter. If you kick someone out of medical school -- even if you literally caught them mouthing answers to each other in a room -- you would face a lawsuite alleging that you have negatively and unfairly impinged upon that person's future earning potential, blah blah blah, and caused pain and suffering, blah blah blah. Then, if you were unable to prove that the person had actually cheated beyond a "he said, he said" situation, you'd lose, you'd likely have to reinstate the cheater, and you'd have to fork over a lot of money. I'm sure someone will say that's not EXACTLY how it works, but that's the general gist of it. Therefore, the most a school will do is insert a comment in your Dean's Letter, which probably knocks you out of most competitive specialities unless you are a great student, which you probably are (for at least the first two years) because you cheated.

        So, to summarize, life sucks and people cheat. If someone really wants to cheat really really badly in medical school, they can and will.
         
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        novacek88

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          Here is the deal, if someone wants to cheat or more accurately needs to cheat...let em. Because the fact is it really is only hurting that person. You can cheat in class but you can't cheat on the USMLE. And if you don't know know your science, you can't score well on the USMLE by doing some last minute crash course. It doesn't work that way so I don't think you have anything to worry about. He or she is only screwing themself by not studying and learning the material.
           

          Fantasy Sports

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            kinetic said:
            Therefore, the most a school will do is insert a comment in your Dean's Letter, which probably knocks you out of most competitive specialities unless you are a great student, which you probably are (for at least the first two years) because you cheated.

            So, to summarize, life sucks and people cheat. If someone really wants to cheat really really badly in medical school, they can and will.

            You think having in your Dean's Letter that you cheated will only knock you out of the most competitive residencies? It will probably knock you all the way into the bottom rung of applicants.

            In any case, it is probably best that the punishment for cheating is given out surreptitiously in a manner similar with which the cheaters cheat. Irony is a beeyatch.
             

            stoic

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              kinetic said:
              Schools are aware of it and do nothing about it, even if the person is caught. That is because, as many people have explained on the forums before, this becomes legal matter. If you kick someone out of medical school -- even if you literally caught them mouthing answers to each other in a room -- you would face a lawsuite alleging that you have negatively and unfairly impinged upon that person's future earning potential, blah blah blah, and caused pain and suffering, blah blah blah. Then, if you were unable to prove that the person had actually cheated beyond a "he said, he said" situation, you'd lose, you'd likely have to reinstate the cheater, and you'd have to fork over a lot of money. I'm sure someone will say that's not EXACTLY how it works, but that's the general gist of it. Therefore, the most a school will do is insert a comment in your Dean's Letter, which probably knocks you out of most competitive specialities unless you are a great student, which you probably are (for at least the first two years) because you cheated.

              So, to summarize, life sucks and people cheat. If someone really wants to cheat really really badly in medical school, they can and will.


              this is unfortuately exactly right. i've been privy to some situations where they've caught people cheating in the pharmacy school the and things went down exactly as kinetic described it. they weren't willing to risk the legal liability of kicking the students out and so they literally knew it was happening, but didn't say anything.
               

              gary5

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                I really don't think that cheaters are getting honors. There's a ton of information and you have to know it well to do well on tests. Med school is about limited time and the way to succeed is to spend that time learning. If someone spends that time writing tons of little microsheets, I don't think they'll do well, even if they get to cheat on a few questions.
                 

                monstermatch

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                  So true, all these comments - I've been on my med school honor council the past few years and there is no question that people have cheated. The deans are extremely reluctant to do anything about cheaters and will come up with any excuse to let the cheater slide unless there is either a) indisputable evidence the student cheated or b) a confession. The last time they dismissed someone for cheating the student brought his lawyer in the picture and it got very ugly. In the end the stuudent was dismissed, but not before they gave the deans a very hard fight. Its true that this stuff can show up in your deans letter and be sure that if it does it has a devastating impact on your chances of getting a residency. However, minor allegations are handled solely by students to purposefully keep the deans out of the picture. Only in the most egregious cases are students to bring this stuff forward to the deans. I'd like to think we could depend on the honor code to prevent cheating but its a fact that a lot of people out there are bound and determined to do x specialty and will do whatever they haev to to get the grades.
                   

                  monstermatch

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                    gary5 said:
                    I really don't think that cheaters are getting honors. There's a ton of information and you have to know it well to do well on tests. Med school is about limited time and the way to succeed is to spend that time learning. If someone spends that time writing tons of little microsheets, I don't think they'll do well, even if they get to cheat on a few questions.

                    In my experience the cheaters tend to be high achievers who are trying to get that one extra point to keep themselives in AOA range.
                     

                    MD'05

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                      gary5 said:
                      I really don't think that cheaters are getting honors. There's a ton of information and you have to know it well to do well on tests. Med school is about limited time and the way to succeed is to spend that time learning. If someone spends that time writing tons of little microsheets, I don't think they'll do well, even if they get to cheat on a few questions.

                      They get honors when they steal the entire exam. Very easy. Get in good with security who in turn opens the copy room, runs a copy of the exam on another copier, and replaces the exam. Voila! Honors.
                       

                      MeowMix

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                        We have a very strict, student-written honor code. We can take exams anywhere as long as we turn them in on time.

                        I take every exam in a study room on my own, with my books/notes in my bag right next to me. I could cheat on every single question of every test if I wanted to, and I would certainly do a hell of a lot better than I am doing right now (barely passing).

                        What stops me cheating? Not the fear of getting caught, because I could also go home and take the test if I wanted to. Instead, it's some kind of sense of upholding the ideal that I have been trusted to behave honorably, and I want to see myself as an honorable person of integrity.

                        Perhaps if I were failing the temptation would be a lot stronger.
                         

                        kinetic

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                          That's why the honor system blows. People follow it until they need to break it. Then they get all indignant that people like me are suspicious of them. Isn't life grand?
                           

                          JennyW

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                            flindophile said:
                            They had a review committee who carefully looked over the evidence. If the committee agreed with the evidence, the student flunked the class.

                            .

                            Where I went to school, if you were caught cheating, you would earn a grade of -100% for the class! :eek:

                            THat's one way to screw up a GPA.

                            Jenny
                             
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                            shocker

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                              Man I am naive. I never even thought about people cheating when they leave to go to the restroom. I see people get up all the time and go to the bathroom and they could easily cheat if they wanted.

                              I still feel obliged to "hold it" because that is the environment I have always been tested in. I believe that most of us can hold it for 2-3 hours without any catastrophes.

                              Although I see a lot of trips to the potty I think that most/all of my classmates would not cheat. Naive, I know.
                               

                              rpkall

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                                I've heard that in a lot of programs there are old "notes" and "study guides" that are handed down from class to class--i.e., the MS-1s give the new students a disk or packet of info related to the school's curriculum every fall when they arrive...

                                I wonder how often this material is legit, and how often it borders on cheating--given that some of the stuff in the "study guides" might stress precisely the same things as each professor, giving the incoming students an advantage.

                                Do you guys know of problems with disks like this "crossing the line" so to speak and how these situations get resolved?
                                 

                                SaltySqueegee

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                                  I know this is long, but my school has effectively eliminated cheating, here's how...

                                  At my school, MCO, they have instituted USMLE testing procedures for all tests that we take.

                                  We shuttle in to the class with nothing but our clothes on. We are randomly seated by a large number of proctors. The tests are handed out individually, with the proctors checking our testing area. During the test, if you so much look suspicious, you will be rewarded with a proctor looking over your shoulder the rest of the test. Hats are not allowed. Jackets, and sweaters may be worn, but you must ask for assistance for them to be removed; they literally help you with them on and off. You are escorted individually to the bathroom, and during that time you must turn in your test to the proctors. While in the bathroom (for guys) the proctor stands right behind you, or next to you if he seems to be having an especially micturating kind of day with his benign prostatic hypertrophy. Also, you are provided with your blank paper, calculator and pencils. If you question the logic or answers on a particular question you right out your comments and explanations on the back of the test booklet, which is then individually reviewed by the course directors; you are not allowed to raise your hand during the test for any test related questions. Thus if you had a legitimate concern, you will be duly reimbursed any missed points that the faculty deem worthy of rewarding.

                                  At first, coming from undergrad, this testing style was quite foreign and intimidating, but from it has come many bonuses. You may want to recommend this to your course directors at your schools.

                                  1) People dare not make a nuisance (unneedingly that is), lest they fail the test automatically. This eliminates the cell phone problem; automatic failure with cell phone on your person. This means the class room is free of annoyances.

                                  2) I will be used to the testing procedures of the USMLE when the time comes. Meaning that the added stigma and style of the test will not be foreign.

                                  3) I would be hard pressed to find a cheater in my class. i.e. My faculty has taken some pretty bitchen steps to make sure that I am fairly ranked with the rest of my class mates. This reduces the stress of competition factor.

                                  A) A note on the proctors. The school has taken the liberty to 'scrounge' up the elderly people in our town and offer them free transport, food, and discounted meds at our school. Most of these people are itching to get out of their old musty homes/retirement facilties. Additionally, most of the proctors have some pretty bitchen WWII stories after the test is over; Like Storming Normandy, etc.

                                  B) Also, all old tests are made available to us through the office of student life, so there is no select few/group of people with access to unique knowledge.
                                   

                                  vhawk

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                                    flindophile said:
                                    I don't think there is a typical cheater. The academic discipline office at my former university used to keep statistics on it and they said there were very few patterns. In my case, they've ranged from the "dumb jock" to the honor student going (err, make that WAS going) to an ivy league law school.

                                    I was never aware of cheating until I became a faculty member. I am always surprised at survey data showing the extent of cheating (as I recall, it is on the order of 60% of undergrads). Part of the problem is that cheating is seen as normal by students -- sort of like speeding, jaywalking or violating copywrite laws.

                                    Its not just that its ok, its that the line gets so blurred. There is such a gradation between cramming the night before(bad study habits) to showing up late to getting someone else's notes to asking them how they did one problem to working on it in unapproved groups...etc etc etc, at least in undergrad. Also, dont underestimate the "Ferris Bueller" factor. The kid who does the best with the least amount of work is the epitome.
                                     

                                    Neuronix

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                                      sporkster said:
                                      I'd like to know what what different schools do to try to keep this from happening, or if anyone has any new ideas about how to stop it.

                                      Stop cheating in the basic sciences by taking away the incentive to cheat. P/F for the first two years :thumbup:.
                                       

                                      Frijolero

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                                        SaltySqueegee said:
                                        I know this is long, but my school has effectively eliminated cheating, here's how...

                                        At my school, MCO, they have instituted USMLE testing procedures for all tests that we take.

                                        We shuttle in to the class with nothing but our clothes on. We are randomly seated by a large number of proctors. The tests are handed out individually, with the proctors checking our testing area. During the test, if you so much look suspicious, you will be rewarded with a proctor looking over your shoulder the rest of the test. Hats are not allowed. Jackets, and sweaters may be worn, but you must ask for assistance for them to be removed; they literally help you with them on and off. You are escorted individually to the bathroom, and during that time you must turn in your test to the proctors. While in the bathroom (for guys) the proctor stands right behind you, or next to you if he seems to be having an especially micturating kind of day with his benign prostatic hypertrophy. Also, you are provided with your blank paper, calculator and pencils. If you question the logic or answers on a particular question you right out your comments and explanations on the back of the test booklet, which is then individually reviewed by the course directors; you are not allowed to raise your hand during the test for any test related questions. Thus if you had a legitimate concern, you will be duly reimbursed any missed points that the faculty deem worthy of rewarding.

                                        At first, coming from undergrad, this testing style was quite foreign and intimidating, but from it has come many bonuses. You may want to recommend this to your course directors at your schools.

                                        1) People dare not make a nuisance (unneedingly that is), lest they fail the test automatically. This eliminates the cell phone problem; automatic failure with cell phone on your person. This means the class room is free of annoyances.

                                        2) I will be used to the testing procedures of the USMLE when the time comes. Meaning that the added stigma and style of the test will not be foreign.

                                        3) I would be hard pressed to find a cheater in my class. i.e. My faculty has taken some pretty bitchen steps to make sure that I am fairly ranked with the rest of my class mates. This reduces the stress of competition factor.

                                        A) A note on the proctors. The school has taken the liberty to 'scrounge' up the elderly people in our town and offer them free transport, food, and discounted meds at our school. Most of these people are itching to get out of their old musty homes/retirement facilties. Additionally, most of the proctors have some pretty bitchen WWII stories after the test is over; Like Storming Normandy, etc.

                                        B) Also, all old tests are made available to us through the office of student life, so there is no select few/group of people with access to unique knowledge.


                                        Dude, no way. I know a bunch of kids that have far more old tests than student life does. Stack upon stacks....I wouldn't have the time to go through that many anyway. Personally I find the proctors, while some are cool, to be unnecessarily nazi-ish about the whole thing. Especially the head chick who absolutely flipped out during the first test about nothing. Plus anyone can still cheat by heading to the bathroom to drop a grumpy. Nothing will stop that short of the guy standing in the stall with you.

                                        -Frijolero
                                         

                                        ironey

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                                          kinetic said:
                                          Therefore, the most a school will do is insert a comment in your Dean's Letter,

                                          This isn't true everywhere. I know for a fact that at least two people in the past three years have been kicked out of my med school for cheating. Unless the cheating episode is reported to student government and ONLY student government (per our honor code, cheating allegations can be mediated by SG), the committee on student performance gets involved and they have no tolerance as far as I've seen.
                                           

                                          MD'05

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                                            ironey said:
                                            This isn't true everywhere. I know for a fact that at least two people in the past three years have been kicked out of my med school for cheating. Unless the cheating episode is reported to student government and ONLY student government (per our honor code, cheating allegations can be mediated by SG), the committee on student performance gets involved and they have no tolerance as far as I've seen.

                                            I think our student government would crucify a cheater. That would really piss most of them off, as it would the non-cheaters in the student body.
                                             

                                            jeffsleepy

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                                              Man, I go to the bathroom during every test. Here's how it works.

                                              1) Do all the problems I know.
                                              2) Go to the bathroom to pee/stretch/relax.
                                              3) Come back and struggle on the ones I don't know.

                                              Maybe some of the people are just doing that.
                                               

                                              i61164

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                                                Neuronix said:
                                                Stop cheating in the basic sciences by taking away the incentive to cheat. P/F for the first two years :thumbup:.

                                                What about AOA? Don't your test scores count for that even if it's P/F?
                                                 

                                                zeloc

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                                                  I'm amazed that cheating is such a big problem. I can't imagine anything like that happening at my school. If a person is filling in bubbles after the time limit, it is a violation of the honor code and people know it. Plus, we are aiming to be physicians, aren't we supposed to have a higher code of ethics? Don't people at these schools feel guilty at all?
                                                   

                                                  Enkindu

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                                                    I'm just grateful I've attended schools since I was 12 that kick you out on your arse for honor violations. I think they should criminalize cheating in professional schools. I guess this is all part of the new America where people spew rhetorical crap about duty and honor while they get rich on inside information and cheat their way to professional degrees.

                                                    I mean this with every fiber of my soul: I'd rather be honest and live on the street than be some scum-sucking filthbag that cheats his way to the top of the medical profession (or the Whitehouse, whatever)....
                                                     
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