Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I am a good student, and sometimes people ask to copy my homework or answers on a test. I know it’s wrong to give them the answers, but I don’t want to seem like a snob. How do I handle this situation?

New Era

  • Cheating is stealing.

  • If you allow others to copy your answers, you are contributing to their dishonest behavior.

  • Offer to explain the assignment to your peers who don’t understand.

  • If you let someone cheat from your paper just once, it will become more difficult to say no in the future.

  • Talk to your parents or your teacher if you ever feel bullied or threatened.

  • Pray for strength to do what is right.

Snob, goody-goody, teacher’s pet, stuck up. As strange as it may seem, students who choose not to cheat, and don’t allow others to cheat from them, are often branded with these names.

You are in a difficult situation. It can be hard to choose between what you know is right and what your peers want you to do. It may seem like a choice between integrity and popularity.

But cheating is stealing.

President James E. Faust said, “Cheating in school is a form of self-deception. We go to school to learn. We cheat ourselves when we coast on the efforts and scholarship of someone else” (New Era, June 1997, 6).

If students copy your answers, they are cheating themselves. If you allow them to copy your answers, you are contributing to their dishonest behavior.

The first thing you need to do in this situation is let it be known that you will not participate in cheating—that means not giving or accepting answers. If you let someone cheat from your paper just once, it will become more difficult to say no in the future.

But just because you aren’t willing to give out answers doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to help. You could turn this situation into an opportunity to serve. If you understand the assignment and some of your peers don’t, offer to help.

If they don’t accept your offer and still push you to share answers, you may need to talk with your teacher about how to handle the situation. If you ever feel bullied or threatened, talk to your parents or your teacher immediately.

When people are in pursuit of a good grade, they often forget that the grade is intended to represent how much they learn. “The tremendous push to excel in secular learning sometimes tempts people to compromise that which is more important—their honesty and integrity” (Faust, 6). Cheating may help them get the right answers, but it won’t help them learn, and it will damage their integrity.

We take knowledge with us through this life and into the next, not grades. We go to school to get an education, not a report card. If you focus just on grades, you may be willing to go to any length, including cheating, to get what you want. If your goal is learning, you may have to go the extra mile by studying more or staying after school to ask a teacher or classmate for help. Consequently, students who focus on learning generally get good grades and the satisfaction of knowing they did their best.

Be careful how you handle situations involving cheating. Although you wish to take the moral high ground, you don’t need to make a scene or criticize your peers. President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled: “Rise above the evils of the world. We need not be prudish. We need not adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. We need only let our personal integrity, our sense of right and wrong, and simple honesty govern our actions” (Ensign, May 1999, 51).

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone

“Jehovah … declared, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ [Ex. 20:15]. Stealing is an affront to God. This commandment is one of only 10. Cheating, lying, bearing false witness are all types of stealing” (Ensign, Nov. 1999, 13). —Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy

Readers

Be sure to let them know in a positive manner how you feel. There is a nice way to say just about anything. Even if some resent the fact that you stay true to your standards, remember the worth of your personal integrity.

Jeremy Nicoll, 19 Taylor, Arizona

The best way I’ve found to handle this, if it isn’t a test, is to politely say, “No, but I’ll help you do it.” People usually agree. That way I keep my integrity, and the person gets the work done honestly. It shows Christlike love when you’re willing to spend time helping people.

Kristina Yarwood, 17 Rancho Cordova, California

Try to help them without condemning or criticizing. That way they will learn that you care about them and really want to help.

Maggie Tangatakino, 15 Mangaia, Cook Islands

Explain that to give out the answers or let them copy hurts not only them but you. It hurts you because you lower yourself to cheating. And it hurts them because they are not learning.

Matt Carroll, 17 Annabella, Utah

It can be really hard to do what is right, especially if it’s your friend who is asking the favor. Just remember the many examples in the scriptures—Job, Joseph in Egypt, Abinadi, the Savior—and you will receive the strength you need.

Kirsti Burr, 15 Corona, California

[photo] Photography by Lana Leishman. Posed by models