How to prevent exam fraud?

Fraud prevention is high on the agenda at reviewing organizations today. This makes sense, as exam fraud can have disastrous consequences. In what ways exam fraud is committed and what you can do about it, read this blog.

Types of exam fraud

Examination fraud takes place in numerous ways. Common forms of contemporary exam fraud include: identity fraud (1) , fraud through the use of (technological) devices (2) and theft of exams (3).

Identity fraud (1)

When someone uses another person’s personal information in taking an exam, it is identity fraud. However, due to rapid technological developments, it is becoming increasingly difficult to commit identity fraud in (online) exams. Identification requirements are becoming more stringent and explicit, making it possible to determine with increasing certainty that the right person is taking the exam. A positive development, then!

Fraud through the use of (technical) tools (2)

Those who think that today fraud only occurs through technical devices are wrong. Old-fashioned cheating via bills, notes on your hand or a note in your graphing calculator, are still the order of the day. However, it is no longer limited to these kinds of “simple” cheating techniques. High-tech equipment with little or no detection is used to smuggle data into the exam room. Consider sophisticated accessories such as glasses or pens that allow the candidate to take in information. Or the use of “invisible” earphones to contact persons outside the exam room who whisper the correct answers.

Theft of exams (3)

In addition to the many ways in which exam candidates themselves can try to influence the final result, duplication of exam papers is also on the rise. This can be done simply by overwriting exam questions or screen shots are taken. The secured exam questions are then shared or even sold.

Exam theft, by the way, is not limited to candidates. Supervisors, question constructors and/or teachers who have access to the exam content are also tempted from time to time.


What are the measures against exam fraud?

Because of the potentially large-scale consequences of exam fraud, it goes without saying that prevention is high on the agenda at testing organizations. Below is an overview of possible measures.

Biometric identification

With biometric identification, you can prevent targeted identity fraud. Physical characteristics and habits of an individual are recorded. Consider palm, face or voice recognition. Another application is the analysis of “type habits” using keystroke dynamics. Each individual who uses a keyboard has a distinct and identifiable way of typing. Thus, a pattern can be created for each individual exam candidate, which can be used for identification.

Data forensics

Data analysis on an exam, can reveal abnormalities in exam candidate behavior. If there are notable abnormalities, a suspicious situation may be investigated further. For example, when a candidate answers the first ten questions remarkably quickly compared to the other questions. Also, when someone finishes an exam significantly faster than others, this can set off alarm bells. In retrospect, several aspects can be used to determine whether fraud was actually committed.


In both written and digital exams, it is important for supervisors to be properly trained. In addition, cameras or other (electronic) aids may serve as additional support for surveillances during an exam. Online proctoring, for example, involves screening the candidate’s exam room with a webcam, mobile camera and screen sharing. This involves sharing the exam candidate’s screen remotely with the supervisor. Such technological gadgets enhance surveillance. However, it is precisely these technological advances that make candidates constantly find new ways to outwit regulators.

What if the exam is already on the street?

Was the exam or some of the exam questions stolen and made public? Then – depending on how many questions were leaked – the only solution is to modify the exam. Consider making variations in question formats or constructing entirely new exam questions. This way, you reduce the chance that questions that are on the street will be asked again. As a result, these questions may not significantly affect the outcome of future exams.


The future of fraud prevention

Exam fraud also remains a topic to consider in the future. As long as candidates have an interest in cheating, new opportunities will be sought. The increasing sophistication of the tools being used does not make prevention easier. Preventive measures will therefore have to be constantly tightened and renewed.

Despite all the possibilities of fraud prevention, examination must, of course, remain user-friendly and safe for the candidate. The trick is to stay ahead of new modes of fraud as much as possible and anticipate them as quickly as possible.


By combining different measures or tools, such as biometric identification and data forensics, for example, you achieve the best results. However, support for these innovative applications and automated tools has yet to grow before it will become an integral part of a mainstream examination process.

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