Cheating on your exam

Cheating on your exam can have serious consequences. Whether you knowingly or unknowingly cheat on your exam, you will be held accountable.

Cheating on your exam is never the answer

We want to help you avoid cheating - consciously or unconsciously - at the exam.

Cheating on your exam can lead to expulsion from your study programme

The consequences of exam cheating range widely. You risk everything from a warning to permanent expulsion from UCL.

All cases of cheating are assessed individually and a decision is made as to what consequence the cheating should have.

But what is exam cheating?

As a student, you most likely know that buying a ready-made exam answer or letting your wise cousin or your helpful roommate solve your exam paper for you is against the rules.

But in other situations, it can actually be a little tricky to avoid being guilty of exam cheating. Did you know, for example, that it is cheating, if you use other people's texts and theories without source references?

Below you can see 4 categories of exam cheating:

Illegal contact

It is not permitted to be in contact with others outside the 'exam room'. In other words, it is cheating if you send or receive an email or a message during a written location test – no matter the content of the message. In addition, you cannot communicate by text message or in any other way on your phone or computer.

Fun fact: Did you know that you are welcome to invite your family or friends to an oral online exam, as long as you do not communicate with them and you inform your teacher in advance.

Unauthorized aids

For exams without study aids, you cannot use any study aids during the exam in either physical or electronic form. Study aids are things such as formulas, dictionaries or notes.

Fun fact: Did you know that you are welcome to look in your notes right up until the exam starts. However, when the exam starts, you need to pack the study aids away in your bag.


In an exam situation, it is plagiarism if you let a text or illustration appear as if it is your own work when in reality it is not. Always remember to mark a quote with italics and reference the author, book/work, and page numbers.

Fun fact: This also applies even if you quote yourself from a previous assignment or your teacher, e.g. from a PowerPoint.

Helping others

If you help others cheat, it will also be considered exam cheating.

NB: All the rules in the examples above also apply to online exams.

Your diploma must reflect your qualifications

Exams are designed to test your knowledge and all the skills you have acquired during your education. A passed exam lets UCL and your future employer know that you are well prepared for your future career.

If you cheat on the exam, then neither you nor your future employer will get an accurate picture of your skills.

What happens if you cheat?

Your family and friends will definitely be disappointed in you if you cheat. But that's not all.

If you are discovered cheating on an exam, you may be expelled from the exam and you will use an exam attempt.

In the case of serious or repeated cheating, you may be expelled from your study programme.

What does UCL do to protect against exam cheating?

Exam guards

Exams on campus and online exams are monitored by exam guards, who make sure all rules are followed.

The digital exam guards can keep an eye on the students who are taking the exam via their webcam. It is also the exam guard who identifies students before the exam starts.

If you are in doubt about anything during the exam, you can contact the exam guard. There will also be an IT supporter and a study administrative staff member who can help answer questions during the exam.

Plagiarism control

UCL uses a program to check for plagiarism in written exam answers. The program scans the entire text and looks for coincidences with other texts in a huge database.

If in doubt, ask.

If you are in doubt about anything related to the exam ask your teacher, your supervisor or the exam supervisor.

When you receive your diploma and hold it in your hand, it indicates that you have completed your education within the applicable conditions and framework.

The exams are tests that gives the examinator and co-examinator the opportunity to assess precisely your personal and individual knowledge, skills and competencies. Therefore you should be able to see what your individual efforts are, based on your work. This means that your performance must be presented within the framework and conditions applicable to the test, i.e. that all formal requirements are complied with according the guidelines applicable to your training as well as the common guidelines of UCL University College (hereafter: UCL)

If you or someone else unlawfully get help, or help another - intentionally or unintentionally - so that it obscures your own work, or if you provide your work under conditions other than those expected, then you have deceived your way to an incorrect assessment and therefore this is an example of cheating at the exam. If you have cheated, then not only does your diploma lose its value, but the credibility of all other certificates issued to you by UCL may also be affected. This is why cheating is such unacceptable behaviour.

Cheating at the exam is if, during a test, you obtain improper assistance in completing an assignment or use resources not permitted by UCL. The same applies if, during a test, you give another student imprper assistance in order to help them complete an assignment.

Plagiarism occurs if, during or after a test, you claim someone else's work as being your own, or have used your own previously assessed work without proper references.

Claiming someone else's work as your own can be both a situation where you hand in a written assignment in full or in part that another student has worked on, and also where you have purchased an essay from an essay bank online, or similar.

Furthermore, copying from books, articles or other sources on the internet is not permitted, even if you change the wording or sentence structure, if you publish the work as being your own. This is because rewording to an insufficient degree, where no sources or proper quotations are cited is also considered illegal plagiarism.

It is also considered illegal plagiarism if you refer to non-existent sources, just as you are not allowed to write about an idea you have up with if the idea is already described on the internet.

In priciple, it is permissible to reuse your own work, if it is correctly referenced/quoted, unless otherwise stated in the Curriculum, or other relevant documents on your learning platform, that reuse is not allowed (e.g. on Fronter or itslearning). However, reuse can, to a greater or lesser extent, affect qualified assessment because material that has already been assessed may not be assessed again.

Prior to each test, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the specific rules that apply to each test. In principle, all aids are allowed, including electronic aids, but it is not allowed to communicate with others during the test.

NB! Other rules may apply for each individual test, so you must therefore always familiarise yourself with the Curriculum and relevant learning platforms prior to each test to ascertain whether there are limiations regarding the permitted aids, e.g. electronic aids may not be permitted.

In relation to citation rules and source citation rules, there may be specific guidelines that must be followed for each individual training programme in order to avoid plagiarism. some programmes use guidelines called 'Formal requirements for written assignments'. In other programmes, a special booklet of formalities or simply the guidelines stated in the Curriculum are used. Ask at your programme if in doubt.

When you submit any written material in WISEflow you must always confirm that your work has been completed without any improper help.

At UCL all written material is submitted in WISEflow. The system automatically prepare a report to show how much of the text in percent is recognisable from other sources. It is the teacher who investigates whether the results of the report give cause for starting a case against you concerning cheating at the exam or plagiarism, but it is the educational management who ultimately decide wheter or not there has been cheating or plagiarism and what sanctions should be brought about.

NOTE: Illegal plagiarism can be detected in ways other the through written submissions in WISEflow. Plagiarism proceedings may be initiated if the teacher becomes suspicious of the submitted material or material presented during an oral or written exam, regardless whether WISEflow has detected plagiarism in the report.

In principle, 1% of plagiarism is just as illegal as 99% but in assessing which sanctions are to be applied, the percentage of plagiarism will be included as one of several criteria in relation to assessing the gravity of offence. Other relevant criteria may be, for example, whether the plagiarised material has had a significant impact on qualified assessment, how long you have known about the rules concerning plagiarism, whether it is a case of deliberate cheating in the form of a purchased assignment or rewriting another's assignment, just as repeat cases will normally be considered serious violations.

If suspicion of cheating at the exam or plagiarism arises, you will receive a hearing letter from the Head of programme where the case will be presented and it will be possible for you to submit an explanation and relevant documentation before a final decision is made on the case.

Upon receipt of the hearing letter, the exam will be suspended and you may not, for example, attend the oral part of the exam until a final decision about the case has been reached.

If a decision concludes that there has been cheating at the exam or plagiarism, you will as a rule, be 'expelled' from the exam. This means that the current exam you are taking will not be assessed. At the same time you will also have used one of your examination attempts. The decision will state whether a warning of repeat cases is also given. In servere cases, you may be temporarily expelled from the study programme, for example for half a year, and in repeated cases, permanent expulsion can take place - either from the study programme or from the entire institution.

NOTE: Starting a case concerning cheating at an exam or plagiarism may also take place even if suspicion only first arises after an exam. If the final decision made concerning cheating at the exam or plagiarism is affirmative, then the result obtained at the exam will be revoked.

As a starting point, a decision on cheating at the exam or plagiarism is a discretionary decision that, in substance, cannot be appealed. However, you can file a complaint about legal issues e.g. if you believe that the handling of the case has not been correct.

In that case, you must file a complaint in the same way you would complain about and exam or test. Read more about submitting complaints on the website udner 'Exam and test appeals'. You have 2 weeks to file a legal complaint from the receipt of the decision concerning cheating at the exam or plagiarism.