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September 19, 2005

A cheater's manual

By Stefan Koski

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.” -- Groucho Marx

It’s a well-known fact that cheating, while an extremely beneficial short-term solution, only hurts the well-meaning student in the long run. It’s also against school policy.

That’s why nobody should cheat.

There is, however, nothing wrong with “participating in a cooperative learning experience.” It can boost grades and self-esteem with relatively little effort. So here are some helpful tips to making the most out of any cooperative learning experience:

1. “Cheat sheets” is a rather harsh term. “Convenience sheets” sounds much better. Having said that, don’t write out convenience sheets – type them, reduce the font size, and print them. It keeps large amounts of text small enough to be easily concealed but still legible.

2. After using such a convenience sheet hold onto it until the end of class. After exiting the classroom, tear it up into as many pieces as possible. Nonchalantly discard half the pieces into the wastebasket of the next class, and the other half of the pieces in the wastebasket of the class after it.

3. Restructure the sentences of any copied papers. For example: “Sally and John went to McDonalds this afternoon because they were hungry for hamburgers,” versus, “They were craving hamburgers that afternoon, so John and Sally went to McDonalds.”

4. When in doubt of the answer, start writing smaller and smaller, and then start scribbling cursive. People who write in cursive look like they’re smart, even if they have no idea what they’re talking about.

5. Graphing calculators, while bulky and expensive, can be programmed to do a number of different functions, such as calculate slope, compound interest, and the area of any shape or figure, without any significant amount of thinking from the user. It’s well worth the money to buy a Texas Instruments graphing calculator and a cable to connect it to a computer. Go to www.ticalc.org and download any programs that are needed. Games can also be downloaded for those who are easily bored in math class.

6. Don’t bother wasting time trying to find books at a library for the required number of print sources for a paper. Simply cite books off Amazon.com. If quotes are needed, look for books that are part of Amazon’s Search Inside program, which allows users to search the book’s text for any terms and view the pages they appear on (when parenthetical referencing is needed). Google Print has a similar program – books in its database can be searched at http://print.google.com.

7. Don’t write any helpful notes on the palm of the hand. No one looks at the palm of his or her hand while taking a test – it looks unnatural, and it’s a dead giveaway that the student is participating in a cooperative learning experience. Instead, write it on the upper part of the leg, just above the kneecap, where shorts or a skirt can hide it. If that’s not possible, write it on the side of the forearm, where long sleeves can conceal any incriminating marks. Alternatively, information could be written on a piece of masking tape and then taped to the leg or arm, allowing the student to rip it off and destroy it once done with the test in addition to providing a much better writing surface than skin.

8. Twice as much can be accomplished if half the effort is put into everything. If it’s not graded, it’s not worth doing.

9. Copying papers takes time – time that whomever has the work done often can’t afford to give when an assignment is due. Better to photocopy someone else’s work, and then return it to the owner. This gives ample time to copy down all the needed information. As soon as the paper is photocopied, rip off the name at the top of the photocopied page. Tear it into as many pieces as possible and dispose of it immediately. After copying the information from the photocopy, dispose of it in the same manner as a convenience sheet.

10. Most important of all, when someone else asks in an exasperated tone, “Are you cheating?!” calmly reply, “No, I’m cooperatively learning.” Then make something up about how the assignment is not even graded, it’s just notes for your own use. That always works.

Remember, cheaters never prosper. Cooperative learners, however, get straight As.

To read all of The Tattoo's Insider's Guide to High School, click here  


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