Semester Exam Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity

Western Carolina University strives to achieve the highest standards of scholarship and integrity and endeavors continuously to improve the quality of its students’ education. Academic integrity is the moral code of academia that requires a commitment to and demonstration of honest behavior. Violations of academic integrity undermine the value of one’s education, interfere with the basic mission of education, and tarnish the reputation of the individual and the institution.



  • Add short answer/essay questions, which require instructor grading.
  • Administer different tests on the same content.
  • Administer tests in residential sections face-to-face, not through the LMS.
  • Be aware of and monitor “study sites” for your materials, exams, and assignments, and issue a takedown notice if /when you find these things online. Such sites include but are not limited to: CourseHero, Quizlet, Studylib, and StudySoup. Contact the Coulter Faculty Commons for a template of a takedown notice if you would like one.
  • Break exam into two parts – Part A:; Part B: with
    Part A: Multiple choice/Matching questions – Limit the time per question.
    Part B: Short answer/Essay questions –Allow more time, for reflection and composition.
  • Ensure that different versions of an exam do not use the same grading scheme. For example, if Form A’s key is A-B-B-A-C-D, Form B’s key should be different.
  • Focus exam questions on the application and analysis of information. Write exam questions that require students to connect facts and concepts, where answers cannot be found in the book, online, or from another student.
  • If a multiple-choice or short answer quiz is to be used, show only one question at a time.
  • Limit the time during which a student can complete an online assessment to something that is reasonable, yet prevents their looking up answers.
  • Make each question one that requires the understanding/application of an essential course concept. For example:

Requires no Understanding/Application

Requires Understanding/Application

Freud’s description of self includes which of the following:
A. Inner self, outer self, secret self
B. Id, ego, superego
C. Ego, alternate ego, secret ego
If Johnny takes all the toys and refuses to share even one with Bobby, which of Freud’s descriptions of self is illustrated in Johnny at that moment ?
A. Ego    B. Id    C. Superego    D. Secret ego
  • Mandate a signed acknowledgement that students understand academic integrity and have not committed any infractions.
  • Modify test bank questions even slightly to lessen the ease of searching for the questions.
  • Present questions and multiple choice answers randomly.
  • Provide detailed instructions so that students understand expectations.
  • Scramble questions and vary exams between semesters and sections.
  • Treat every online or take-home exam as if it were an open-book test (because it really is).
  • Use the same format on the larger tests as on the smaller quizzes. Students who become familiar with one format are less likely to cheat.
  • Utilize test blueprinting (question sets) to produce fair exam question pools that test the same idea. These are mini-pools of questions within an assessment.
    • This reduces the likelihood that two students will get the same 50 questions.
    • The more questions per set, or the more question sets your create, the more one-of-a-kind each Coulter Faculty Commons 2018-2019 student’s assessment will be.
    • Randomize as much as possible to give each student a unique assessment.
    • Randomize the order of the possible responses for each question.
    • Randomize the order of the questions shown on the entire assessment.
    • Method I:
      • Take a look at the objectives you want to measure.
      • Put those objectives in a grid format as rows.
      • Add topics or subjects to the rows as needed.
      • List the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy in the grid as columns.
      • Disperse the number of questions for each objective at each level of thetaxonomy.
      • You are now ready to write the questions for each topic at each level ofknowledge.
    • Method II:
      In an assessment in which you want the students to answer 50 questions:

      • Build five (5) questions sets of 20 questions each.
      • Have only 10 questions from each set randomly displayed to the student.



  • Require that students place phones face down on tops of desks so that it’s clear if a student picks uphis/her phone and looks at it during an assessment.
  • Walk around–a lot! Proximity is an easy way to discourage cheating during exams. If you have TAs,each should walk around a “zone” of the lecture hall to monitor the students in all areas of the classroom.


  • Check the “study sites” again for your materials, exams, and assignments, and issue a takedownnotice if find things online.
  • Check assessments for students that
    • Have the same score
    • Miss the same questions
    • Start and finish at the same time
  • If you suspect that cheating has occurred on an online exam, contact the Coulter Faculty Commons to request information. They can see all of the students’ activities in the learning management system. This information can be used to verify what may have occurred during the exam.
  • Pursue disciplinary action. Completing the paperwork for violations lets students know that they cannot violate academic integrity standards with impunity. Also, it establishes a central record, so that students are discouraged from repeating the same behavior in multiple classes during their academic career.


  • Contact the Coulter Faculty Commons with any questions.
  • Contribute to a climate of academic integrity.


The office of Academic Engagement & IT Governance
The Coulter Faculty Commons staff
McGill, S. (2008, July). Integrating Academic Integrity Education with the Business Law Course: Why and How? [Electronicversion]. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 25(2), 241-282 . doi:10.1207?s15327019EB1103_3
The WCU Academic Integrity task force