What Happens If You Get Caught Cheating in Your A-Levels?

In A-Level by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

A-Levels are one of the most stressful and difficult periods of many students’ lives. Many feel immense pressure to do well, and this can lead to students resorting to cheating to succeed. However, the rules against cheating in place during exams are there to ensure everything is fair. While this can seem like a good option to some students, cheating is never the answer. In this article we will explain the consequences of cheating in your A-Levels, demonstrating that this is never worth it and will only cause you to face much worse than simply failing.

Cheating in your A-Levels leads to huge consequences. For example, you can get a warning for the smallest offences such as having your phone go off in the exam room (after you have handed it in). Larger offences such as bringing notes into the exam room or reading the paper online before sitting the exam could lead to marks being deducted, or even disqualification. Not only this, but cheating goes on your permanent academic record, and could lead to you being unable to go to university or gain other qualifications in the future.

While this should have given you a short answer to what happens if you get caught cheating in your A-Levels, please read on for full details as this is a complex topic.

What penalties can you get for cheating in your A-Levels?

There are various levels of penalties for candidates who cheat in their A-Levels, depending on what they do. These are numbered from 1-9. Below is a table with each level of sanction and what it means, as seen on the JCQ website here.

Level Consequence
1 Warning
2 Loss of all marks gained in one section
3 Loss of all marks gained for one component
4 Loss of all marks gained for one unit
5 Disqualification from one unit
6 Disqualification from all units in one or more qualifications taken in the series
7 Disqualification from whole qualification
8 Disqualification from all qualifications taken in that series
9 Barred from entering for examinations for a set period

These levels are grouped into larger categories by JCQ. The three categories are Warning (sanction 1), Loss of Marks (Sanctions 2-4), and Loss of Aggregation or Certification opportunity (Sanctions 5-9).

Here a warning would mean no further consequence to current examination, but a formal note on your record which could make future cheating consequences much worse. A loss of marks means that you may lose some or all of the marks available on one paper.

A loss of aggregation means that that component or exam will not be used when adding up your overall grade for the A-Level. This essentially means you get a 0 for the whole paper, or for several papers. Loss of certification means that you cannot gain any grade in that A-Level, or sometimes any of your A-Levels.

On the JCQ website linked above these categories are used to explain the consequences of a large list of examples. In this article we will explain some further examples, to help illustrate them in more detail. The Sutton Grammar website also has a helpful table which clarifies some of these sanctions, which can be found here.

Will you fail your exams if you get caught cheating in your A-Levels?

Depending on what actions you take to cheat, you may fail some or all your A-Levels. You could even fail all your A-Levels just for cheating in one of the exams. This shows that cheating in your exams is never worth it.

Any action which leads to a loss of marks could lead to you failing your A-Level if you do not get enough marks in the rest of your exams. For example, forgetting to hand in your phone but not using it during the exam, or having notes with you in the exam may lead to losing marks.

Some actions may lead to failing one of your exams out of an A-Level. This could include deliberately speaking to someone who has taken the exam you have not yet taken when you are supposed to be in supervised isolation to prevent cheating.

Examples of actions that could lead to failing a whole A-Level are discussing the answers to questions during one of your exams with other candidates, for example whispering. This would also include passing notes or swapping papers with each other.

Some cases of cheating are so serious that they lead to you failing all of your A-Level exams. These could include using your phone during an exam, which can lead to a loss of certification opportunity for all exams during that period.

As with all of these sections, please see the JCQ document linked above for a full list of details and examples. As the exam regulator, they ultimately decide what will happen to every student who is caught cheating.

Do you have to retake your A-Level exams if you get caught cheating?

If you are caught cheating it is very unlikely that you will be allowed to retake your A-Levels immediately. At the very least if you wish to retake you will have to wait until the next period of exams, which for A-Levels, will be the following summer. Check out this Think Student article for a complete guide to retaking A-Levels.

However, some sanctions mean that you cannot retake any of your exams until much later. You may be banned from taking public exams for a period and not be allowed to retake any of your exams until that point.

You may have heard that you will be given a different paper and have to immediately retake if you cheat in an exam, but this is not true. The exam board does not give individuals contingency papers and will simply not allow them to take an exam, or part of an exam, if they have cheated. This is suggested by the JCQ document above.

Can you still get into university if you cheat in your A-Levels?

As with all sanctions, what happens depends on what you do to cheat. Smaller level offences which only lead to a warning will not prevent you from getting into university.

However, more serious offences which lead to you losing marks or failing an A-Level could easily lead to you not getting into university. This would be for example if you did not meet your grade requirements, or were disqualified from some of your exams.

Also in some cases your university may be informed that you cheated in your exams. Universities take academic integrity very seriously and will often not admit a pupil who has cheated in their exams, even if they get the grades needed.

Cheating goes on your permanent record and will be seen by all educational institutions you apply to, typically for the rest of your life.

Does reading a leaked paper count as cheating in your A-Levels?

Reading a leaked paper on the internet absolutely counts as cheating. Even if you come across it by accident or are sent it by someone without asking and still read it you may be disqualified from your exam.

If you accidentally find a paper online that has been leaked or are sent it by someone else, the best thing to do is immediately report it to the exam board without reading it. This will usually mean you can still take your exams as it is not your fault.

There is a grey area around “predicted papers” which are often sold on the internet. These are not official exam board material so are technically not cheating. However, they should never be relied upon for revision as they are usually inaccurate.

Overall, if you suspect that malpractice or cheating has taken place at your school, or have seen evidence of cheating online, you should always report it. Otherwise, you could be accused of hiding evidence, and this could also lead to sanctions such as loss of marks or disqualification.

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