Taking Tests In The Age of The Internet: Cheating Becomes More Prevalent


Photo by Madeline Hardy ’11

Photo by Madeline Hardy '11

Rachel Guetta ’13 and Constance Chien ’10
Opinions Editor and Staff Writer


All it took were a few keywords on Google, a click, and a download. The AP Environmental final was suddenly within the grasp of a student about to take the same final.

It seemed that what happened, was that a teacher in another school district had taken the password-protected AP exam, usually found on the CollegeBoard website only available to teachers, and had posted it on the internet, against AP policy.

A Staples student then found the exam on the teacher’s website after searching for AP Environmental practice tests on the internet.

“That exam has been used for the past couple of years since it mimics the actual test,” AP Environmental Science teacher Michael Aitkenhead said.

The matter had only come to Aitkenhead’s attention when a student brought the test to him, curious if it were a good study tool.

It was, in fact, the same test she was to take for her final.

The Solution

In order to “maintain the integrity of the test,” Aitkenhead decided to administer another test in place of the final.

“I honestly felt the new results I got more closely reflected the results I expected from students,” Aitkenhead said. “I felt it was an accurate representation.”

The issue of discovering AP questions on the internet is an issue that is not unique to this circumstance.

The AP Economics final examination was to be administered over the course of the days leading to the AP exam, involving multiple choice questions and a free response section.

A student in one of the AP Economics classes discovered the free response questions after having taken the test that day. Having found the answer to the free response question, he discovered the multiple choice portion attached to the exam. The student proceeded to distribute the test to other students.

The multiple choice section was then discounted, as a result.

Cheating at Staples

Cheating is a widespread phenomenon, according to Jonathan Shepro, an AP Economics teacher, who has taught for 16 years.

According to James D’Amico, coordinator of the social studies curriculum for Staples as well as Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools, teachers should encourage students to seek information online to supplement their studying for the AP finals and tests.

“But students are always responsible for their conduct and what they do with that information,” D’Amico said.

In the case of the AP finals, cheating did indeed occur, as in the AP Economics final, which draws questions as to the validity of the structure of the AP class system.

Who is Responsible?

Because AP is a national system, material is regulated on a national basis and it is impossible to fully control distribution of material.

Teachers do their best to control the distribution of such materials, although cheating does occur.

“I do think the teachers are partially responsible because it is unreasonable for a teacher to draw 60 questions from the straight source and not expect cheating,” Jeremy Rubel ’10 said.

Shepro believes that the educational system is moving away from highly regulated material, in any event.

In this manner, cheating of this type will become less of an issue.

“From what Ms. Sharp told us, her and Mr. Shepro really did everything they could to make sure they were giving us a secure test, but the unexpected happened, so I don’t think there was anything they could have done or anything they could do in the future besides maintaining their strict zero-tolerance cheating policy,” said Nicole Seo ’11, a student in Kathy Sharp’s AP Economics class.

In any event, the recent cheating incident has only served to teach lessons regarding integrity and honesty.

“It’s just as important for me to teach lessons about life as it is to teach lessons about economics. This was a life lesson,” Shepro said.