Cheating Statistics

This is a listing of various survey results (some scientific — some not) related to test cheating.

According to surveys in U.S. News and World Report:

  • 80% of “high-achieving” high school students admit to cheating.
  • 51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong.
  • 95% of cheating high school students said that they had not been detected.
  • 75% of college students admitted cheating, and 90% of college students didn’t believe cheaters would be caught.
  • Almost 85% of college students said cheating was necessary to get ahead.

Professor Donald McCabe, leading expert in academic integrity, in a May 2001 study of over 4500 high school students, found the following:

  • 72% of students reported one or more instances of serious cheating on written work
  • 15% had submitted a paper obtained in large part from a term paper mill or website
  • 52% had copied a few sentences from a website w/o citing the source
  • over 45% admitted to collaborating inappropriately with others on assignments

In a sample of 1,800 students at nine state universities:

  • 70% of the students admitted to cheating on exams
  • 84% admitted to cheating on written assignments
  • 52% had copied a few sentences from a website w/o citing the source

Kerkvliet, J., & Sigmund, C. L. (1999). Can we control cheating in the classroom? Journal of Economic Education, 30(4), 331-351.
Ashworth, P., Bannister, P., & Thorne, P. (1997). “Guilty in whose eyes? University students’ perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment.” Studies in Higher Education, 22(2), 187-203. (EJ 549 250)
from the November 22, 1999 issue of U.S. News and World Report
from The Center for Academic Integrity (
McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1996). “What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and recent developments.” Change, 28(1), 28-33. (EJ 520 088)


Social Science Research Network
Do Accounting Students Cheat? A Study Examining Undergraduate Accounting Students’ Honesty and Perceptions of Dishonest Behavior
August, 2007

Research suggests that a significant number of undergraduate students have cheated at some point during their college careers. This is of particular concern to the accounting profession and accounting educators given the ethical crisis within the profession and corporate America. This paper discusses the results of a study that surveyed 569 undergraduate business majors from seven universities. The objectives of this study were threefold: first, to determine if students who were accounting majors were as likely to cheat or act in an academically dishonest manner as were students with other business majors; second, to determine if accounting students agree on whether certain behavior constitutes dishonesty; and third, to determine if those accounting students who did admit to cheating in college also cheated in high school. The results indicated that there was no significant difference between accounting majors and other business majors with regards to the number who admitted to cheating. There was significant disagreement among accounting majors as to what constitutes dishonest behavior. Finally, the results indicated that a significant number of those accounting majors who admitted to cheating in college also admitted to cheating in high school. Implications for the accounting educator and potential solutions are discussed.

The Canadian Journal of Higher Education 
February, 2007

News article

  • In a new survey of 15,000 university students in five provinces, 53 per cent confess to having cheated in their assignments — and an astonishing 73 per cent said they cheated in high school.
  • 18 per cent of the university undergrads admit to cheating on a test or exam in their current studies.
  • 9 per cent of graduate students said they had cheated on a test or exam.
  • 58 per cent of the first-year students surveyed said they had cheated on a test or exam in high school by copying from another student without the person’s knowledge, helping another student cheat on a test or using “cheat sheets.”
  • 46 per cent of faculty and 38 per cent of TAs surveyed said they had ignored suspected cases of misconduct, mostly because they didn’t think they had the proof to back up their suspicions.

ABC News Primetime Poll
Cheating Among Teens
April, 2005

In an exclusive ABCNEWS Primetime poll of 12- to 17-year-olds, seven in 10 say at least some kids in their school cheat on tests. Six in 10 have friends who’ve cheated. About one in three say they themselves have cheated, rising to 43 percent of older teens. And most say cheaters don’t get caught.

That doesn’t make it right in most students’ eyes: Nearly all teens in this national, random-sample survey say cheating’s wrong. Most who admit to cheating say it was a rare thing. And fewer than three in 10 say “most” or “a lot” of kids in their school cheat; 44 percent say it’s just “some.”

Still, though, 12 percent — nearly one in eight — say “most” kids in their school cheat on tests.


Who’s more likely to cheat? The crowd teens hang out with is one factor: Those with friends who’ve cheated are more apt to be tempted, and actually to cheat, themselves.

Age is another. Older teens are more apt than younger ones to say a lot of kids at their school cheat, to have friends that cheat and to say they’ve been tempted to cheat. Among 12- to 14-year-olds, 23 percent admit cheating; that rises to 36 percent of kids age 15-17, and, as noted, peaks at 43 percent of those age 16-17.


Communication on the issue is in short supply: Just one-third of kids say they and their parents have had a serious talk about cheating in school. But it’s not clear that it helps: Kids who have spoken about it with their parents are no less likely to have cheated, or been tempted to cheat, as those who haven’t.

Still, those who are the most likely to say they’ve cheated — kids age 16-17 — are the least likely to say they’ve talked about the issue with their parents. Just 27 percent say they’ve done so, compared with 41 percent of 12- to 13-year-olds.

Kids do know right from wrong on cheating. Only 8 percent believe that in order to get ahead in life, you have to cheat from time to time; 90 percent, instead, say cheaters will lose out in the long run. And 96 percent say their parents would rather have them do their own best work, regardless of the grade, than get good grades if it means cheating.

Rather than a talk, greater risk and better teacher involvement could serve as deterrents. A third of kids say they’d be more likely to cheat if they knew they’d never get caught; this suggests that better enforcement could help curb the practice.

In a seemingly related result, almost as many teens, nearly three in 10, say they’d be more likely to cheat if they had a teacher who didn’t seem to care about their work. Teachers who develop student loyalty — as well as those who guard against cheating — also may be better-equipped to prevent it.

Grade pressure seems less a consideration. Fewer, 14 percent, say they’d be more apt to cheat if they thought other students were cheating and by being honest they’d get a lower grade. About as many, 16 percent, say they’d be more apt to cheat in a class they thought didn’t matter as far as their future.


This ABCNEWS Primetime poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 4-8, among a random national sample of 504 12- to 17-year-olds. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Field work was done by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.


Center for Academic Integrity Research Conducted By Don McCabe – Released June, 2005

  • Studies of 18,000 students at 61 schools, conducted in the last four years, suggest– over 70% of respondents at public and parochial schools admitted to one or more instances of serious test cheating and over 60% admitted to some form of plagiarism. Slightly less than half of the respondents from private schools admitted similar behaviors. About half of all students admitted they had engaged in some level of plagiarism using the Internet.
  • In Assessment Project surveys involving almost 10,000 faculty in the last three years, 44% of those who were aware of student cheating in their course in the last three years, have never reported a student for cheating to the appropriate campus authority. Students suggest that cheating is higher in courses where it is well known that faculty members are likely to ignore cheating.
  • Surveys conducted in 1990, 1995, and 1999, involving over 12,000 students on 48 different campuses, demonstrate the impact of honor codes and student involvement in the control of academic dishonesty. Serious test cheating on campuses with honor codes is typically 1/3 to 1/2 lower than the level on campuses that do not have honor codes. The level of serious cheating on written assignments is 1/4 to 1/3 lower.

2006 Josephson Institute Report Card

  • 60% cheated during a test at school within the past 12 months– 35% did so two or more times. (Q44).
  • 82% admit they lied to parent within the past 12 months about something significant– 57% said they lied two or more times. (Q41).
  • 62% admit they lied to teacher within the past 12 months about something significant — 35% said they lied two or more times. (Q42).
  • 33% copied an internet document within the past 12 months – 18% did so two or more times. (Q43).
  • 23% stole something from a parent or other relative within the past 12 months – 11% did so two or more times (Q46). In 2002, 28% admitted stealing from a parent or other relative.
  • 19% stole something from a friend within the past 12 months – 7% did so two or more times (Q47).
  • 28% stole something from a store within the past 12 months – 14% did so two or more times (Q48).
May 2007
30,000 responses
Link to survey results

  • 60.8% of college students surveyed have cheated. — Of students who cheat, only 16.5% feel bad about it.
  • The top three “cheating” schools are Ball State (71.9%), Appalachian State (67.9%) and Penn State (67.2%).
  • At schools with an honor code, 67.6% of students cheat. — At schools without an honor code, 41.5% of students cheat.
  • The most popular single method of cheating is looking over someone’s shoulder (14.5%) followed by storing the answers in a calculator (11.1%) and getting a test from a friend (9.2%), though many students (45.6%) use a combination of cheating methods.
  • The most effective method of cheating is storing the answers in a calculator, judged by the average GPA of those who use that method (3.49). The least effective method is writing on yourself (average GPA: 3.27). —
  • People who cheat have a higher average GPA (3.41) than those who don’t (2.85).
  • Religious students are more likely to cheat (65.4%) than those who aren’t religious (58.3%).
  • Males cheat more than females (64.8% vs. 42.0%).
  • 24.6% of students have intentionally plagiarized.
  • 12% of cheaters have been caught at some point in their cheating career, yet only 7.1% of people who got caught stopped cheating as a result.
  • 45.9% of students allow others to cheat off of them.
  • Those that cheat in school are 2.5 times more likely to cheat in their relationships than those that don’t cheat in school.

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