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I cheated on my exam today

  1. Mar 28, 2009 #1
    My last 4 test grades have been 77,72,59, and 48(all core major classes) i am so freakin pissed off w/ myself and im having doubts if im smart enough for college.Anyway today i was feeling bitter towards school and said F it and cheated on my microcontrollers exam.I sat in the back of the class and busted out a cheat sheet i made and some snippets of code.The prof. always reads during exams so he didnt notice.I pretty much had all the answers in front of me so im expecting a high B or low A.I feel bad for cheating but i just did it out of frustration i guess.The part that pisses me off is that i actually study and read my textbooks and still get bad grades.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2009 #2
    Just putting time into studying a subject doesn't mean you'll learn it. You probably are studying inefficiently if you can't manage to do well on a test after a lot of studying. Do you do problems after doing the readings? Does studying for a test simply involve reading over your notes? Do you attend lectures (even if you don't learn much from a lecture, professors might hint at what you should focus on for a test)? I highly doubt that you're incapably of getting good grades so don't write it off as "I'm not smart enough."
  4. Mar 28, 2009 #3
    I was going to call your professor on my cell phone and tell him what you had done, but the darn thing just died on me. Now I'll have to get a new one.
  5. Mar 28, 2009 #4


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    Don't repeat this transgression. Go talk to one's professors, and change the way one studies.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2009
  6. Mar 28, 2009 #5
    Did you post this because you're conflictual? If so, I can set is straight for you:

    You've single-handedly undermined the system so as to distort the achievement of those around you who worked harder, better, and/or smarter. You've earned what they deserve and you do not.

    I'm sure you're school offers free tutoring services. If you're too embarrassed, it's time to get past it as there is no reason to be. I can't see how the shame wouldn't make the embarrassment a more appealing alternative, anyway.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  7. Mar 28, 2009 #6
    I just take it like a man and fail. I've got a D or two to prove it. My first semester was a nice wake up. :rofl:
  8. Mar 28, 2009 #7
    Speaking as someone who always made A grades without any work, I think that the system you speak of is a sham and so the ethical implication you are making is empty.

    A sham is something false that is purported to be genuine, and this is exactly what the state of our modern education system. The primary goal of institutional education is to assign a ranking to serve as a justification or explanation for why you can only do some jobs and not others. There are many dirty jobs to be done in society, and instead of 'drawing straws' to decide, or deciding based on one's heritage as was done historically, in modern society we use education as a elaborate cover-up for the seemingly necessary business of ranking people.

    The 'worked harder, better, smarter' in the post that I quoted is part of making the explanation seem as justified as possible e.g. 'you have to be a minimum wage worker because you got a bad ranking, and you got a bad ranking because other people worked smarter, better, and harder.' I claim that our system has devolved to the point where very often the rankings people get on tests are arbitrary, and do not reflect merit. This is because there is not very much effort put into looking for true merit i.e. evaluating individuals. The true goal of the system is to make it seem as if the rankings are not arbitrary, so that students continue to pay tuition and society continues to function without revolt.

    The point is that you cannot undermine that which is already dishonest, since after all it has no foundation that is good. Instead, what cheating does is replace an elaborate and deep system for assigning arbitrary rankings that most people think are based on merit, with a shallow and transparent system that anyone can see is arbitrary. This makes people angry, just like the old heritage / nobility / birthright / caste systems . The insight of modern political leaders is that the populace is significantly more content if they feel that they were in control of their economic class, whereas the reality of limited resources and the great effort required to seek true merit makes this impossible in practice.
  9. Mar 28, 2009 #8
    That's a lot of writing to illustrate a very simple point. My rebuttal:

    Then don't participate. It's college; choice is inherent. If you are going to take part in a system voluntarily, then play by the rules. No one should complain about things they subject themselves to.

    I applaud your rhetoric, and your ideals. However, you should spend more time delving deeper into the latter, instead of making assumptions.
  10. Mar 28, 2009 #9
    You shouldn't be too embarrassed about cheating on courses you don't care all too much about and have little passion for (assuming that is the case with this course). A couple of years from now, all that really mattered at the point is that you got through the courses. However, try not to cheat when it comes to something you're really into.
  11. Mar 28, 2009 #10


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    That's a quite disagreeable thing to say. Imagine if you were going through your courses adn some people outside of your discipline came into your classes and just cheated their ways to 100%s and so on and gave the professor/department the impression that you are lazy or slacking. Add to that how it would feel if the professor graded on a curve. The implications if you extend this into the real world are even worse...
  12. Mar 28, 2009 #11
    Note to self: Don't hire you, ..... ever.

    But in all seriousness, this long tirade is crap. Keep it to yourself next time. Trying to justify someone cheating is a no no.

    If you can get A's in your classes without any work, the department of your school sucks. That's your own fault for going there.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  13. Mar 28, 2009 #12


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    I don't know, things must be different in Alaska. I remember distinctly in one of my classes, the first time I met a professor (he was teaching the class).

    He hired me at the end of the class, even though I got a C in his class (several other students got A's and B's) but he liked my attitude and maturity level and he also liked the way I thought. I've been working for him for about four years now and he's now the chair of the Physics Department.
  14. Mar 28, 2009 #13
    If you'd just taken an extra hour and memorized the cheat sheet, then you would've gotten a good score legitimately.
  15. Mar 28, 2009 #14
    I know someone who cheated on tests for a long time. It worked out to get him the marks he wanted, but the thing he forgot was that he was planning a career in his program (biochemistry). He is in some trouble now because he is in his fourth year at a university and required to do a number of research projects and lab classes. These classes require you to apply what you have LEARNED not pretended to learn. Cheating will get the marks you need to move on, but perhaps you shouldnt move on if you dont really know what youre doing. I did really poorly my first year, and I realized its not a matter of not being smart or not knowing the material, I just didnt know how to write multiple choice exams. I went to a few seminars on campus and I do rather well now. You sound like you need to get a tutor or speak to your professors.
  16. Mar 28, 2009 #15
    Why not? Is it because you don't share my opinion on this matter? What is it, specifically, about my opinion that tells you I would be unfit for employment ? I feel that all I am doing is offering an alternative to a belief that you take for granted. I don't advocate cheating.

    First of all, if you thought that my post was 'long' then I wonder what you think about books ? They must seem really long to you.

    As for you calling my thoughts 'crap', since I know you don't mean this literally I translate it as saying "I didn't like it." But there are many possible reasons for this response, the most likely of which (based on my past experiences with others) is that you are unwilling to examine your long-held beliefs in a critical way.

    This indicates that you found my writing to be actively harmful, since you wish that I had not inflicted it upon you.

    I am no more justifying someone's cheating then you are justifying your own honesty. If you read my post it is primarily an indictment of the education system, and my point is that the education system cannot be undermined when it is already dishonest, at most it can be exposed.

    I read this sentence as an attempt to protect your world-view: if I (confinement) was able to get all A grades at a top 20 school without doing any work (or, in some cases, without going to lecture at all) then some of my critiques of the university system would be true. As a secondary line of defense you could begrudingly admit that if I made A grades at a top 20 university without doing any work, then it must be because I am intelligent, and then as a bonus you could even fault me for being lazy and taking an opportunity away from someone who would have worked harder than myself. But what if I am not exceptionally intelligent (a possibility which I suspect you would entertain) ? Then we are forced to admit that grades can be arbitrary, not based on merit.

    In other words, the rest of the world is unaffected, either way.
  17. Mar 28, 2009 #16
    I go to a top 10 school. You wouldn't last 5 minutes without doing work.

    I didn't say you couldn't pass the tests if you were that smart. You could. In fact I told a story in a past thread about a guy in a class I had one time that got the highest grades on all his exams but never did any homework: so the professor flunked him.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  18. Mar 28, 2009 #17
    I unno, I thought grades didn't matter much as long as you were above a B. And that it was more about who you meet and know in college.
  19. Mar 28, 2009 #18
    Then, it's very likely that you will cheat again unless you accept the responsibility and the consequences.
  20. Mar 28, 2009 #19
    Can you cut the bullcrap ? If you get straight As without work, then your University is bad, it is as simple and there is nothing else.

    I went to a good University. It has produced several Nobel prizes and Field medalists. We were given exams just impossible to complete entirely. The "A" grade was defined by the student who completed the most of the exam. By no means you can in such an environment be the best in maths, in physics, in chemistry, in engineering, in software design, etc all the same week. It is simply impossible. Please take time to think about it : you are spending one week to study a very specific mathematical technics to solve such problem. You train for it by doing as many examples as possible, as fast as possible. Later on in your life you become a world-known respected mathematician, and you are not able anymore to solve those specific problems as fast as you were able at the time when you passed the exam at school. Yet, at this time, you were also being taught all those other things. Man, if you were getting straight As everywhere in this school, let me tell you, you would be far more intelligent than all scientists together living on Earth. Witten would be dumb to you. Nobody ever got all straight As there. Whatever you claim, this is so obviously bullcrap... If you are convinced and honest in your claims, please leave this bad University, you are loosing you time and it is of no use for you.
  21. Mar 28, 2009 #20
    Humanino, I understand that you do not believe my story, since I am not surprised that it contradicts your experience.

    It sounds like I won't be able to change your mind, and that you hold this belief with absolute certainty.

    Did they come with an impossibility proof, or did it just seem that way to you at the time?

    I never took a list of courses like that all at once, and it is doubtful that I could do so without reading the textbooks ahead of time.

    I won't accept this claim until I see an impossibility proof, otherwise I will only grant that it discords with your experience.

    Hmm, I always went for quality over quantity, which is why practicing examples actually decreased my interest, energy, and motivation, since I can remember the techniques perfectly well without them.

    I disagree, there is a big difference between the trivial, fully digested material we serve to undergraduates and the raw, unprocessed material that is on the fringes of research. I have special skills for processing the former that do not apply to the latter. As soon as I entered the real world of research, I saw how different it was from university, and this is part of why I find university education to be dishonest; at least in physics.

    I am guessing that you went to a private school, while mine was public, and I will grant that the level of competition with other students sounds more intense at your school then it was at mine. Still, I wish I could spend my entire life going around to debunk the kind of impossibility claims that you are making; alas, for me it would be much like going back and dominating a class of 6th graders, which would prove nothing.
  22. Mar 28, 2009 #21
    Well, the mistake I made as an undergraduate student was simply that I showed up for class all of the time prepared for someone to "pour" their knowledge into me. Consequently, I was seriously disappointed a lot; and later got depressed. YOU can't get yourself depressed over it. Happiness helps you succeed.

    Adjust to the circumstances by accepting the fact that many science professors just do not want to know you or help you.

    Don't make my mistake: sometimes it's just better to hang out in the library and read your textbook on you own--you'll learn a lot more than merely listening to a lecture.
  23. Mar 28, 2009 #22
    Could it possibly be that you didn't get a good education in undergraduate physics?
  24. Mar 28, 2009 #23
    This school is located in Europe, and I far as I can tell, several other continents have much better schools than available in the US. Russian schools for instance are often more challenging.

    Look it's simple. The teacher knows very well how many minutes at least it will take to simply write down the solutions to an exam, assuming the shortest possible answer. The questions are so many that within the assignment time (most usually 4h) it is impossible to copy all the solutions. It would involve several hundred pages. Seriously. As a consequence, it is not enough to be able to answer the questions. You must also answer faster than everybody else. The best grade defines "perfection" for the specific test. And it is the same story in all disciplines. You do not believe there are good schools out there, too bad for you. A typical 4h test results typically in 30 or 50 written pages of equations and text. Some exams last 8h, the longest exams (I know) last 10h.

    The school I attended is not private, it is public. But again, it is not in the US.
  25. Mar 28, 2009 #24
    Predictable, as always, but since you already complain about the length of my postings I necessarily cannot preemptively diffuse all of your quips. But since you insist...

    The quote I was responding to compares undergraduate physics with the kind of physics that Ed Witten does. The chasm between these levels of endeavor includes an understanding of topology, geometry, algebra, and analysis that goes radically far beyond the knowledge of a typical PhD in particle physics (i.e. these folks tend to know about Wilson loops, but not about holonomies on principal bundles) and beyond the level of a typical PhD in mathematics (not beyond in terms of sophistication, but a large amount of additional content in the form of physical facts and the training that one needs to translate these into mathematical language).

    It is impossible to explain my statement to someone who does not have firsthand experience with the gap that I describe. Here is an example of a book that fills part of the gap:


    if you are at all familiar with graduate level physics then you can appreciate (1) the central importance of the notions in this text for the forefront development of theoretical physics beyond the 1970s and (2) the extent to which the book is incomprehensible given only the knowledge that one learns in (graduate) school. Just because someone found the treatment of vector spaces to be trivial as an undergrad, does not mean that they will find sheaf cohomolgy similarly so.


    Ahh, in that case I fully concede to you. All of my criticisms are directed at US schools, while from what I can tell top schools outside the US (in europe and asia) have done a much better job in maintaining difficult standards of the past. I don't for one second believe I could waltz through a non-US school, since I have interacted with many exchange students and found them heads and shoulders above my former classmates. Forgive me for being so US-centric in my comments; I really should travel to europe soon before the US atrophies my brain completely!

    P.S. In graduate school I had a Russian prof who always looked at us as if to say "I can't believe you are all such idiots." Understandably, however, he lowered his standards just like everyone else when it came to grading.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  26. Mar 28, 2009 #25
    Your arrogance is amazing, and contrasts with the humility mostly found in superiorly intelligent beings (like say, for instance, Witten...)

    I don't find this fun anymore. Why should I care ? I know what I went through, the privilege I had to study in this environment. I don't need to go back and try to explain why we have difficulties to discuss here. The only thing I want to make clear for everybody, is that contrary to your claims, there are good schools where people who (unlike you) have proven significant achievements in Science, awarded by the most prestigious medals and prizes, can find stimulating environments. Apparently you were bright among the dulls, I prefer to shine mildly among the bests.
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