How to prevent exam fraud?

How to prevent exam fraud?

Fraud prevention is high on the agenda of testing organisations these days. This is to be expected, since exam fraud can have disastrous consequences. This article talks about the various ways in which exam fraud is committed and what you can do about it.


Types of exam fraud

Exam fraud takes place in many ways. Common forms of contemporary exam fraud are: identity fraud, fraud through the use of (technological) tools and the theft of exams.

Identity fraud

When someone uses someone else’s personal data when taking an exam, one speaks of identity fraud. However, due to rapid technological developments, it is becoming increasingly difficult to commit identity fraud during (online) exams. The identification obligation is becoming increasingly stricter and more explicit, as a result of which it can be established with increasing certainty that the right person is taking the exam. A positive development, therefore!

Fraud through the use of (technical) tools

Anyone who thinks that fraud nowadays only occurs with the aid of technical tools is wrong. Old-fashioned cheating via notes, handwriting on your hand or a note in your graphic calculator are still the order of the day. However, it is no longer limited to these ‘simple’ cheating techniques. Using high-tech equipment that is not or hardly detectable, data is smuggled into the exam room. Think of advanced accessories such as glasses or pens with which the candidate can access information. Or the use of ‘invisible’ earpieces to make contact with people outside the exam room who whisper the right answers.

Theft of exams

In addition to the fact that the exam candidate himself/herself can try to influence the final result in a variety of ways, exam assignments are increasingly being duplicated. This can be done simply by overwriting exam questions or making screenshot. The obtained exam questions are then shared or even sold.

Exam theft is not limited to candidates. Also supervisors, question makers and/or teachers who have access to the exam content are tempted from time to time.


What measures are there to prevent exam fraud?

Because of the possible major consequences of exam fraud, it goes without saying that prevention is high on the agenda of testing organisations. Below is an overview of possible measures.

Biometric identification

Biometric identification offers a targeted means of preventing identity fraud. Physical characteristics and habits of an individual are registered. For example, recognition of the palm of the hand, the face or the voice. Another application is the analysis of ‘typing habits’ using keystroke dynamics. Every individual who uses a keyboard has their own and identifiable way of typing. For example, a pattern can be created for each individual exam candidate, which can be used for identification purposes.

Data forensics

Data analysis on an exam may reveal deviations in the candidate’s behaviour. In case of striking deviations, a suspicious situation can be further investigated. For example, when a candidate answers the first ten questions remarkably quickly compared to the other questions. Also when someone finishes an exam significantly quicker than others, this can set off alarm bells. Afterwards, it can be determined on the basis of several aspects whether fraud has actually been committed.


In both written and digital examinations, it is important that supervisors are properly trained. In addition, cameras or other (electronic) aids can serve as extra support for the supervisors during an exam. In online proctoring, for example, the candidate’s exam room is screened with a webcam, mobile camera and screensharing. During this process, the screen of the exam candidate is shared remotely with the supervisor. This kind of technological gadget reinforces the surveillance. However, it is also these technological developments that enable candidates to constantly finding new ways to outsmart supervisors.

What if the exam is no longer secret?

Has the exam or a number of exam questions been stolen and made public? Then – depending on the number of questions that have been leaked – the only solution is to adjust the exam. Think about making variations in questions or creating completely new exam questions. This way you reduce the chance that questions available in the public domain will be asked again and therefore will not have a significant impact on the results of future exams.

The future of fraud prevention

Exam fraud will continue to be a topic to be taken into account in the future. As long as candidates have an interest in cheating, new opportunities will be sought. The fact that the tools used are increasingly sophisticated does not make prevention any easier. Preventive measures will therefore have to be constantly sharpened and renewed.

Despite all the possibilities in the field of fraud prevention, the examination process must of course remain user-friendly and safe for candidates. The challenge is to stay ahead of new ways of fraud as much as possible and to anticipate as quickly as possible.


You achieve the best results by combining different measures or tools, such as biometric identification and data forensics. However, support for these innovative applications and automated tools still needs to grow before they become an integral part of a common examination process.


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