Creating and Proctoring and Exams


Exams, especially in large lecture classes, often tempt students to try to cheat. Here is some advice about ways to design exams to make dishonesty difficult and how to monitor students during exams. Creating a written policy that indicates how you intend to encourage honesty in exams will help students see how seriously you take this issue. Presenting students with such statements the first day and before every exam will help reinforce that message.


  1. If possible, design questions that encourage students to apply information rather than just memorize. Encourage students to record their thought process about the question as evidence that they did the work themselves. (You may want to give them and collect scrap paper as part of the exam.)
  2. Create different versions of multiple choice and true/false exams so that students cannot cheat by looking at each others’ papers.
  3. Change exam questions as often as you can so that students cannot “borrow” other students’ work from the previous term.
  4. If you use take home exams, give students a clear set of policies to guide their work.


Consider the following policies:

  • Separate students from each other while they take the exam.
  • Regulate the use of electronic devices and/or have students leave their backpacks and other things at the front of the room.
  • Limit students to the use of four-function calculators only.
  • Require that students show their Penn IDs.
  • Annouce ahead of time how many pages and problems are on the exam. Some departments even print that information on the first page of the exam.
  • Have students sign a statement affirming they have not cheated.
  • Make sure students do not have prepared answers in their bluebooks (either by handing out bluebooks yourself with marks to identify them as clean or by redistributing student bluebooks.)
  • If you see cheating, respond immediately by collecting evidence or keeping records of other students who sat in the same area.


  • Make copies of the exams before you return them so that students cannot change their answers and ask for regrades.
  • Have a clear consistent policy on regrades.


     From the Final Exam for MGMT/BPUB 732  (Gerald Faulhaber)

You are not to speak with anyone else about this exam until the due date/time, either in the class or anyone else. You may use whatever material you choose. 

     From Stochastic Calculus and Financial Applications Final Take Home Exam (Michael Steele)

You may consult any books or articles that you find useful. If you use a result that is not from our text, attach a copy of the relevant pages from your source. You may use any software, including the internet, Mathematica, Maple, R, S-Plus, MatLab, etc. Attach any Mathematica (or similar) code that you use.

  • You may NOT consult with any other person about these problems. If you have a question, even one that is just about the meaning of a question, please contact me directly rather than consult with a fellow student.
  • Use anything from anyplace, but do not steal. If you make use of an argument from some source, give credit to the source. If you find the complete (and correct!) solution to a problem in a book or on the internet, just print out the pages and attach them. You will get full credit. 

     From Linguistics 001 Midterm Exam Instructions (Thomas McFadden)

This is an open book, open notes, take-home exam. You may consult any of the course materials (and other outside materials if you wish, though they will probably not be as much help) in figuring out the answers to the questions. However, you may NOT discuss the exam with ANYONE, whether they are taking the class or not. If you have any questions, direct them to me, either in my office hours, or by e-mail. I will not answer questions that are too specific and would give you an unfair advantage in taking the exam, but will be happy to give clarification on what is meant by a question. If you are at all uncertain about what sort of answer I am looking for, think you've found an error or typo, please ask me about it.