Confronting Cheating

Ducks swimming in Putah Creek

Confronting Cheating

The UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct places shared responsibility for upholding the academic integrity of our campus on students, faculty and the administration. As an instructor, one of your responsibilities under the Code is taking an active role to ensure that the evaluation of student learning is fair. Moreover, research has shown that students are less likely to cheat when faculty take steps to prevent, confront, and report cheating.  If you have reason to suspect cheating during an examination and it is practical to do so, you may intervene to try to stop the misconduct -- but you are not required to do so and you must allow the student to complete the test. Here are some ideas and Do's & Don'ts for addressing exam misconduct and confronting suspected in-progress cheating.


  • Give clear instructions and reminders to the class before handing out the exam (what they are allowed to use during the exam, turn off and put away cell phones and other electronics, put away all notes and texts, zip up backpacks and push all the way under desks -- etc.  See "Preventing Cheating" for more).
  • Monitor exams. Exam monitors should be available to answer questions, assist students in maintaining our standards of academic integrity, and confront and/or report misconduct if it occurs.
  • Use sign-in sheets during the exam so that later you can identify who was sitting next to who if needed.
  • Require students to keep their student ID's on their desks during the exam so that you can check the identities of students who look unfamiliar (or do random checks) to ensure that someone is not taking the exam for an enrolled student.


  • Move a student/s if you believe that one of them is copying or they are collaborating, and it is possible to relocate one of them without undue disruption to other students.  Simply tell the student that you are moving them and point to where you would like them to sit.
  • Confiscate unauthorized materials during the exam. Direct the student to give you the item, or to stand up so you can see what is under their leg (etc.). Afterwards, you may choose to return the confiscated material to the student (as in the case of a cell phone) or send it to OSSJA as evidence (as with a cheat-sheet). If you choose to return a student's phone, you may ask the student to open it first so you can see what was on the screen during the exam.  
  • Ask a TA or exam proctor to witness such interactions, if possible, as well as to observe students you believe to be cheating. Having multiple witness statements is exceedingly helpful if a student denies academic misconduct.
  • Use a cell phone to take pictures or video of students you believe to be cheating.


  • Don't accuse a student you're moving (or confronting about unauthorized materials) of "cheating," as this may create a disturbance for others. Just tell them what you want them to do.
  • Don't prevent a student from finishing a test -- even if you are 100% confident they were cheating.
  • Don't allow students to leave the exam room for any reason without checking in with you first -- and when they do, have them leave their bags and cell phones with you before leaving for the bathroom, etc.
  • Don't lose control of the classroom when you call "time."  Remind students that talking is not permitted until they are out of the classroom and/or have passed their exams to the middle, etc. 

Edited 2/5/2019 by slh