The definition of cheating


Phuong Nguyen

Students who are concerned about their grades sometimes cheat as an act of desperation

You waited last minute to write a commentary essay for IB English and you realize that it’s 3 a.m. You consider two options –take a huge late penalty or steal some else’s work on Google to fill up the half-finished essay

Most AHS students are responsible enough to ask their teachers for an extension and take a late penalty. On the other hand, some students resort to cheating out of academic desperation in order to temporarily save their grades.

Plagiarism on the rise

Recently, junior students in IB English I classes were given an eye-opening lecture on the repercussions of cheating.

Many students were suspected of plagiarizing questions from summary websites such as Sparknotes and or even from the back of their own books to complete a summative study guide assignment for Wide Sargasso Sea. 

According to IB English I teacher Stephanie Hanson, around 60 percent of students were suspected of plagiarism on the assignment.

IB English teachers expressed their discontent at the lack of academic integrity students had towards their work. Teachers ultimately decided to invalidate every assignment due to scale of the incident. It would take more effort for them to weed out the guilty students, and they just don’t have time for that.

On the other hand, many students took pride in their work and spent a lot of time on the assignment. Not receiving credit due to a group of students’ unwise decision to plagiarize is nothing short  of a slap in the face.

It is also a sign of disrespect to the IB English teachers as they work hard to make sure that students are developing their writing and analytical skills by completing the assignment.

Students are constantly reminded to be original and give attribution to sources, yet many are oblivious to the important advice.

Plagiarizing indicates that students simply don’t care. Frankly, IB classes are for students who are responsible enough and demonstrate ATOM Pride, but it is obvious not everyone demonstrates it. 

“I would be pissed if I gave out an assignment and everyone didn’t bother to do it and just plagiarized,” junior Ashley Giddings said.

Plagiarism in IB English, or any other IB classes should stop as the consequences for being caught run high. The chances of getting away with the act remains low as teachers often use the universally feared Safe Assign plagiarism checker.

English Department Chair Alan Weintraut advised teachers to not give recommendation letters for students that cheat.

IB students are supposed to be role models for other students, thus cheating sets a bad example and sets the stage for future offenses.   

Procrastination is one of many reasons why plagiarism is a major problem at AHS.

One student stated that she plagiarized on the assignment because of time constraints.


According to the FCPS SR&R guidebook, cheating is categorized as a “level A” offense. Teachers are allowed to intervene and make disciplinary decisions towards the offenders.

Possible measures include a “referral to counselor, parent teacher conference with administrator and teacher, detention and in-school suspension.” Consequences for one-time offenders in high school are pale in comparison to those in college.

Cheating, whether it is plagiarism or copying, immediately calls for the expulsion of the student. Considering the harsh consequences, why plagiarize if it can ruin your life?

Is Sparknotes cheating?

Sparknotes definitely uses a different writing style and vocabulary than students. As veterans of writing, teachers are able to tell what has been taken from the Internet or not.

“If you’re going to use Sparknotes at least read the book first,” Giddings said. I just use Sparknotes to better understand the book and I don’t think that is cheating.”

Using Sparknotes instead of reading is just taking an easy way out and that is not what the IB is all about.

It’s hard to imagine how the students would react to living in the earlier years of the Internet when educational websites did not exist.

Students need to develop their own thoughts and ideas  while avoiding the impulse of taking ideas from Sparknotes summaries.     

Cheating vs. Collaboration

Nowadays, there is a very thin line between actually “cheating” and helping others with stuff they do not understand. 

When students are concerned about their work, they often ask their friends for their work in order to double check answers and ask questions. However, students do this at awkward times, oftentimes during class and right in front of the teacher.

Teachers need to understand that students like to collaborate with each other when it comes to homework and that comparing answers should not count as cheating.

However, students in return should not be unethical by taking someone else’s paper to bluntly copy. Copying does nothing to improve the knowledge of content.  Most students can admit to commit this offense at least once.

It is often said that “procrastination is like constipation; the longer you wait, the harder it gets.”

Seriously, simply put the iPhone down and start major assignments earlier.