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Cheating risk from online essays

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Students who buy essays from online companies are not only at risk of being caught cheating, but they also risk receiving substandard work, the exam regulator has warned today.

Ofqual recently commissioned independent research into a number of online companies who offer to write essays for students. Students who attempt to submit this work as their own are cheating and could lose their whole qualification. What is more, the regulator found that much of the work supplied by online companies is nowhere near the standard or grade that they claim it to be.

Students are now being warned about the services and the consequences of using them, and teachers are being advised to be extra vigilant as well.

Chief Regulator, Glenys Stacey comments: “My message to students is quite clear. These essays are poor quality. Anyone who buys them isn’t getting value for money. And more importantly, while there can be valid reasons for students buying these essays, such as essay practice or research, any attempt to pass this work off as the student’s own is cheating.

“We want a level playing field for students, with each student assessed fairly, and so decided to look into this issue more closely. One of the more shocking findings was that the essays supplied by these companies are not even the grade they claim to be. For example essays that claimed to be grade A quality were purchased and when they were analysed by our experts, the majority were only a C or even a grade D.

“Teachers are also advised to look out for these essays being submitted. They can look out for a change in style in how the student normally writes, or even a very fast turnaround of a piece of work. Exam boards should also be doing everything they can to stop these essays being submitted into the system and they have a responsibility to ensure their malpractice monitoring systems are effective.”

The independent research was carried out by London Economics.

Download the research report