Cheating has seemingly become an everyday phenomenon in exam situations at most
of Hungarian universities. Almost every student prepares for the examinations
making handy little bits of paper, contemplating on where to sit and, during the
exam itself, the most sophisticated even use their mobile phones to surmount the
numerous gaps in their knowledge. Day after day in the exam period stories such
as the following circulate in the corridors of the School of English and

American Studies, as well as other faculties of ELTE and other universities in
our country. It may seem surprising, but the story is not fiction, in fact, a
student at ELTE told it to HVG last year. ‘I always elaborate on all the
possible topics at home and write them down on A/4 sheets of paper. My special
‘examination suit’ has an A/4 size pocket. I always put the sheets into it,
and, at the examination I wait until the topic of the essay is given out, then
pick the right sheet in my pocket, and hand that one in.’ 2.1. Research

Questions Is cheating really such an everyday phenomenon as it appears to be? Is
cheating so easy to manage? What about morals? 3.1. Theoretical Background

Brown, Earlam and Race reported in their practical handbook for teachers that
‘Sitting written exams is one of the most stressful parts of life for many
pupils’ (p. 44). The book also suggests that if candidates get away with
cheating, it is going to be regarded as the teacher’s fault. Most teachers
feel uncomfortable when encountering cheating and they do not think it is their
task to prevent pupils from doing it. At least, they try to minimise the
possibilities by telling students to leave their bags someplace far from the
desks, and before starting the exam they are reminded to double check that they
have nothing on their person that could be interpreted as a crib (Brown, Earlam
& Race, 1995, p. 44). But there are always a few who take the risk.
‘Better safe than sorry!’ - say students afraid of not knowing one single
answer to the exam questions. This is why they invented their own means, the
‘illicit aid’, as termed by teachers: the cheat-sheet. Students know
hundreds of methods to avoid spending long hours preparing for examinations and
tests. Of these, everyone can choose the one which best suits his cheating
skills and of course the aim. Cheating, in general, begins at senior primary
school. The most widespread methods at this age are hiding small bits of paper
(which contain all relevant information) in their pockets, under the question
sheet or into their pencil cases, and writing things on their palms. The
creation of the small sheets is quite time (and patience-) –consuming as kids
do not use computers to design these pieces. Writing on one’s hands is risky
as there is no way to remove the text when the teacher approaches suspiciously.

As you can see now, these methods are quite elementary, easy to discover and, in
fact, mostly done to amaze classmates rather than instead of learning. The next
age group, 14-18 years old, uses more sophisticated methods. Modern technology
is often of great help to the secondary school student: the computer edited A4
page can be reproduced on a much smaller scale. Experts on the topic say that
the smallest font legible to the students’ eyes is the 3 pt size. The laziest
do not bother with typing, they simply photocopy the book at about 8 pages / A4
rate and cut the pages apart. University students prefer the
‘previously-written-essay method’, which is often much more dangerous than
the others, that is why they use those as well. Everyone tries cheating once.

After that, he decides whether it is worth it or not (Réka & Bunny, 1999).

In September 1996 a research was carried out at the University of Economics (BKE),

Budapest for personal purposes under the co-ordination of G. Vass (personal
consultation, March 3, 2000). A small group was interested in students’
opinion about honesty. Similar to us, the research group used a questionnaire as
a measuring instrument, which had, beside 45 others, 5 questions about cheating
at university examinations. They asked about 100 participants from different
faculties to fill the questionnaire. However astonishing the results were, the
research has not been published in any way. The first two questions on the topic
had four possible answers: ‘Always’, ‘Often’, ‘Sometimes’ and
‘Never’. The first question concerning cheating was the most obvious one,
‘Do you cheat in exam situations?’. The results showed that the vast
majority of the