The Effects of Cheating on Exams

Cheating on exams has become more prevalent throughout the 21st century as the importance of learning is eliminated. It disobeys the expectations for a well-behaved Stuyvesant student, and the offense becomes a violation of the morals of society. In highly-competitive schools, such as Stuyvesant, students are prone to running after success through their academics. Everybody is so concerned over competing to be the best in the class that most students have actually forgotten that a school’s purpose is to educate. The obsession with running after success is so intense that students try finding any way possible to get to the top and some, to extreme cases, resort to cheating. Cheating embodies the sins of incontinence, violence, and fraud to which the punishments are and aren’t appropriate; these characteristics are comparable to the different circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Cheating is acting dishonestly to gain advantage in a competitive situation. Success in academic achievements is often earned through a student’s hard work and dedication. However, neglection to such means may usually lead to their tendency to cheat off of others because they do not believe in their own abilities and accomplishments. The students can only become guilty of their undeserving grade. Cheating is immoral because it consists of stealing other students’ intellect and calling it your own. It creates a sense of disrespect and injustice amongst the honest students that actually put the time and effort into studying. Furthermore, cheating stimulates a loss of truthfulness and suspicion between students or a student and a teacher.

The theme of incontinence is great significantly in students’ lack of self control and gluttony in the Third Circle of Hell. The culture of cheating has certainly developed along the years. Some students are forced into believing that they must cheat in order to be successful and get the best grades. Additionally, peer pressure and overwhelmness of workload may lead to temptation. However, when teachers fail to notice cheating, the student starts believing that they can get away with it a second time; this cycle will eventually become a habit where he/she is unable to restraint from temptation. This situation is comparable to that of gluttony, which is the overindulgence of food. In both cases, the guilty parties face a lack of restraint from their inclination. In the Third Circle, the Gluttons are submerged beneath “gross hailstones, water gray with filth, and snow come streaking down across the shadowed air” (6.13-4). By rolling around in the dirty hail for eternity, the Gluttons are symbolized as pigs. The sinners are treated like pigs because they gorge themselves in food, displaying animalistic qualities.

The violence depicted in the Circles of Hell are far more severe than the violence present when cheating in examination. Violence is usually portrayed as physically and intentionally using force to harm others. In Dante’s Inferno, most of the sinners in the Seventh Circle of Hell have committed acts of brutality. While the Circle is divided into three rings, those violent against their neighbors and property, such as Murderers and Tyrants, are sent to the first ring “near the stream of blood .. [to] boil” (12.47-8). These sinners were burned, as a punishment, in the symbolic amount of blood they spilled killing those injured violently. Those who are violent to themselves and commit suicide are sent to the second ring where the soul “rises as a sapling, a wild plant; and then the Harpies, feeding on its leaves, cause pain and for that pain provide a vent” (13.100-2). Here, the souls are turned into trees because they are ungrateful about their body. In comparison to cheating, the offenses in the Circles of Hell are far more immoral. Most cases of violence for cheating usually only relate to peer pressure from bullies and possible threats to share answers; students who are hesitant to help their “friends” are afraid of rejection. Nonetheless, the violence in cheating is unparalleled to the violence in Inferno because there is no true sign of intentions to harm students.

The school’s expected counter-penalty for cheating in examination is usually an automatic zero and a call home notifying parents of the unacceptable behavior. Punishments are certainly necessary for committing a sin as bad as cheating. If the school were to not reprimand them, students would continuously get away with such behavior and no one will learn what’s right. The appropriateness of the counter-penalty is well, but its effectiveness is low. Failing a student because they cheated on a particular assessment will encourage them to be more serious about the situation. However, further cheating cases should not be detention because it will not effectively allow them to be reflective on the situation. The purpose of cheating is because the students feel that they are lacking. Instead of detention, an effective punishment is forcing the students to handwrite the test paper several times until they have the information memorized. This will allow for better understanding of the text and removes the need for cheating. The rationale behind this counter-penalty is to suggest that if the students are interested in looking at other test examinations, they might as well rewrite and memorize every portion of the exam afterwards. Detention and forcing students to stay at home will not effectively help on their self-improvement.

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