Is Cheating On A Test A Sin? (A Student’s Dilemma)

Tests, exams, and other forms of academic assessment can be stressful. Many students have a lot at stake when taking tests, including passing a class, maintaining a certain grade-point average, staying eligible for sports, getting into college, or maintaining a scholarship in college. As a result of these pressures, some students are tempted to cheat on tests.

Cheating on a test is a sin. It’s a form of dishonesty, which the Bible forbids. Tests are intended to assess what a student has learned prior to the examination. Cheating also deceives the instructor, making them think that the student has mastered the material when they haven’t.

Why is cheating a form of dishonesty? What does cheating on a test look like? Why do students cheat on tests? How can students counter the temptation to cheat on a test? How can students resist the temptation to cheat? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see Is Playing Video Games A Sin? to learn more.

cheating in school
Why do students cheat on tests? See below

Why is cheating dishonest?

Tests are designed to measure a person’s knowledge without aids like textbooks, class notes, or related assignments. It’s unclear what a student has learned if they use resources during a test. In this case, a test wouldn’t be measuring what they have learned, but what they can find in a resource.

What does cheating on a test look like? Cheating on a test can take many forms. Students can be quite creative when cheating on a test, which often makes instructors wonder why they don’t just put the same time and energy into studying the material over which they will be assessed.

  • Some students try to hide information, such as on a small piece of paper, that they peak at when the teacher isn’t looking.
  • Some students try to find the test and memorize the answers before the examination occurs.
  • Some students look at the paper of someone sitting near them, sometimes willingly aided by their classmate and sometimes not.
  • Some students try and use their phones to look up answers while taking a test.

Why do students cheat on tests? Many students buy into the false belief that the good that will come from doing well on the test outweighs the bad of cheating on it. For example, one student may believe that passing the class is more important than maintaining their integrity. Another student may believe that they “have to” cheat so they can pass the test and not let their team down.

How can students counter the temptation to cheat on a test? Students must weigh the significant consequences of their dishonesty and deception. Even if they aren’t caught in the act of cheating, they do long-term damage to their integrity, character, and morality as an individual. Proverbs 10:9 reads, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”

Sin catches up with people. If a cheater doesn’t get caught, they may believe that they are in effect outrunning sin. Yet sin always catches up with people. Would-be cheaters need to remember God’s promise to the Israelites: “be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

Edward Welch writes, “Anyone who has been lied to knows that lies divide people; lies are the language of war. With God, lies provide evidence that our allegiances are not with Him. Instead, they show that our allegiance is to Satan – the Father of Lies – and to ourselves.” [1]

Also see Is Watching Anime A Sin? to learn more.

taking a test
What are some Bible verses about cheating? See below

How can students resist the temptation to cheat?

  1. Students can manage their time well to ensure sufficient study time. Cramming for tests is often where the temptation to cheat starts.
  2. Students can respect their teacher enough not to deceive them.
  3. Students can remember that even if they don’t get caught cheating, their character is damaged.
  4. Students can realize that God knows of their deception even if no one else does.
  5. Students can understand that a higher grade isn’t worth compromising their integrity.

Pastor D.L. Moody writes, “When Christians find themselves exposed to temptation they should pray to God to uphold them, and when they are tempted they should not be discouraged. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is to fall into temptation.”

What if a student has cheated on a test? If a student has cheated on a test, they should confess their sin to God and receive his forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” They should also confess their sin to the test-giver and be willing to suffer the consequences of their wrongdoing.

Also see Is Kissing A Sin? to learn more.

Bible verses about cheating

  • Ephesians 4:28, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
  • Luke 16:10, ““One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
  • James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
  • Leviticus 19:11, “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.”
  • Proverbs 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”
  • 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
  • Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

“A heart of integrity is cultivated by striving to maintain a clear conscience. Our consciences are the internal mechanism given to us by God to drive us toward sincerity… The conscience itself is not our benchmark, but if kept clear and clean it becomes a powerful instrument of integrity as it drives us toward the grand, inflexible benchmark – God’s Word.” ~ Jerry Wragg

Also see Is Laziness A Sin? to learn more.

[1] Blame in on the Brain? p. 200.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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