Insane Ways Kids Are Cheating Their Way Through School

Gone are the days of simply sneaking a peek at the test answers of the brainiac sitting next to you. This is the 21st century, Little Rascal: cheaters these days use smartphones, Photoshop, 3-D, and other bits of high-tech trickery to game the system, as well as some surprising DIY innovations. Below are just a few examples of the ways students are eschewing conventional knowledge-gathering techniques in favor of charmingly amateurish spycraft and rinkydink subterfuge. They may not give you hope for the future, and they might not actually work if you try them, but they sure are entertaining. Enjoy!

The water bottle label trick

Education Week reported back in 2007 about students at a Las Vegas school protesting a school-wide ban on water bottles in the classroom by chaining themselves with zip-ties and handcuffs to a water fountain. The plucky future culture-jammers even made homemade "Legalize Water" T-shirts! The protest only lasted 10 minutes, but the thirsty anarchists made their point, and the ban was soon overturned. But, if the picture above is indicative of a larger trend, they may have been thirsty for deception.

Look, if you find yourself using your roommate's hair dryer and tweezers at 4 AM to surgically remove the label off a bottle of Crystal Geyser, you know you've crossed a line, right? The time and effort it took to pull this off could have been spent (1) visiting the counselor, ASAP, or (2) studying for the exam like a normie. Yes, that makes you basic, but the beauty of being basic is you don't have to spend all night scanning water bottle labels at Kinko's.

The shoe-tying trick

If floppy-tongued skate shoes are your go-to look, you might be able to pull this one off, as long as you also have a photographic memory. How many times can you seriously get away with tying your shoes during an exam? Maybe twice, but you start looking pretty sketchy after the first time, like a date who goes to the bathroom twice before the potato skins arrive.

Considering that the entire answer key has been artlessly Scotch-taped in place, this daredevil has clearly already engaged in some back-alley dealings, so this is likely just the latest in a long string of chicanery. But let's be real here: this is amateur hour. At the University of Central Florida, for just one example, eagle-eyed proctors regularly record z-grade nonsense like this and even forbid chewing gum, but not for grade-school reasons: they think, as the Huffington Post explains, "it provides a way to hide that [students are] talking into a hidden microphone." Cute shoes, Quiz Show!

The scroll-in-the-Casio trick

Okay, Dick Tracy, this ain't bad. But it's also a tiny, intricately-engineered cry for help. How hard is this exam that you felt the need to invent something to thwart it? This may be the world's only functional scroll-slash-watch, like an Apple Watch for the ancients. Kickstart this thing now and sell it on the quad in a bunch of sick colors, sure, but also go home and see Mom and Dad.

Research may suggest that cheating in college leads to dishonesty later in life, but this insanity probably leads to, what, steampunk? Watch-fiddling is surely the first sign. Regardless, your instructor is probably going to notice your inexplicable dial-diddling eventually, so maybe next time spend less time studying Instructables, and more time studying whatever that four-point font gibberish is supposed to be.

The fake arm trick

Any guesses as to what's in that sleeve? A Pringles can? A 20 oz. Sprite? A rolled-up copy of the New Yorker? If this guy's so into sleight-of-hand, why didn't he pull the answers out his professor's ear before class, perhaps before appearing, uncannily, to bloodlessly slide the top of his thumb off?

While this is technically possible with an iPhone 7, the old-school Nokia is an important detail here: this is some early-2000s-level foolishness, right? He's probably playing the Snake game between questions to ward off boredom. There's no way this would fly in the age of TakeYourClass.com, which does precisely what it says on the tin. You might as well be reading the inside of your hand, Houdini.

The photoshopped Coke label trick

This trifling cheat again? The water bottle nonsense was bad enough, but this is just absurd. You're going to spend hours scanning and photoshopping a fake Coke label just so you don't have to study for an exam? College, you'll be happy to learn, isn't for everybody (as argued by Slate), but while you're there, re-direct that energy into something useful for society, like an app that makes you brunch.

As far as the Adult Swim-without-the-irony video above goes: is the sub-Gameboy Tetris music optional, or does it help get you in the mood for low-level counterfeiting? Is "Uh-Dohb" Photoshop as expensive as Adobe Photoshop? Is this trick still convincing on a $2 bottle of cucumber water? So many questions.

The short skirt trick

Look at this. Great teamwork, right? Except, your instructor likely isn't a fool and will surely notice you both sheepishly staring at each other's naughty bits, unless the trick is to embarrass them into not peeking under your desk? It's a sneaky ruse. Statistics may indicate that men and women cheat at the same rate, but men are definitely less likely to tape crib sheets to their thighs, probably?

Not to be gender-normative, but this trick requires both a dolphin-like dermis as well as, let's say, a confidence in your own capacity to be objectified to be effective. The deceit is more likely to work if your instructor/proctor is wary of pulling a Benny Hill and leering at your legs, eyes agog. It requires not only owning, but almost weaponizing your sexuality to pull this off, which is brave but also, you know, still cheating. Not cool.

The Band-Aid trick

First of all, you better at least have a genuine wound under there before you even attempt to pull this one off. We would never advocate self-harm, but a Band-Aid-based cheating trick is way more convincing if there's at least an ingrown hair under there. Your instructor needs to see some light trauma.

Otherwise, this is a solid trick, but also totally gross. The underside of a Band-Aid is basically The Upside Down in Stranger Things: no one wants to goes there, there's no Eggo, and it probably smells like a neglected belly-button. So no one is going to investigate if you adjust your bandage a couple times during the exam, and you'll join the 60% of college students that admit, via oozing wound or not, they're cheaters.

The cleavage trick

Actually trying this in a classroom would look insane. Sure, no professor, male or female, straight or gay, would let this fly in fear the student was doing something normal and they'd be accused of being a pervazoid. However, it requires you, the student, staring down your shirt, using both of your hands. You'd look like you were chasing a fumbled Gummi Bear.

Just because yes, Harvard kids cheat, too, it doesn't meant you should exploit your d├ęcolletage as a bodyguard for wayward crib sheets. Yes, your instructors are less likely to investigate cheats originating in intimate places, but where does it end? How small is that font? Medieval thinkers desperately wanted to know "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin," but how about equations on a jock strap? Mnemonic devices on an merkin? It's exhausting.

The "only one notecard" trick

This requires a bit of explanation. The idea here is that the professor allowed one index card for use during the exam. The student responsible for this bit of trickery decided to render that one card in old-school, blue-and-red 3-D, like they're that one guy in Biff's Back to the Future gang or something. This would allow them to see double the content! It's brilliant.

Except, any professor with any self-esteem at all would confiscate those glasses immediately, rendering the whole enterprise meaningless. What on Earth gives you the audacity to try and trick your instructor with this mid-century parlor trick nonsense? Does this have something to do with TED talks? This is why people write nasty thinkpieces on Millennials, you guys. Those glasses should be pinned to the wall of the classroom, like fake IDs on a Wall of Shame at a seedy liquor store.

The clear pen trick

This one smacks of desperation even more than the rest do, perhaps because it's actually extraordinarily subtle, and it looks like it would take an insane amount of work to pull off. Is the text printed on clear paper/tape? How do you even get it inside the pen in a neat way?

Considering we're living in a time where 64 Dartmouth students can be suspended for cheating in an ethics class, it's not surprising this James Bond-level of shady spywork exists. But we're also living in the time of Proctortrack, a piece of software meant to detect online test cheaters via webcam, through such sketchy behavior as "slouching, stretching, shifts in lighting, and picking up a dropped pencil." Sound pretty fascist, but you read this whole article, right? These kids think they're invincible. Get 'em, Proctortrack!