Examination malpractice: Threat to quality education

BY: Abraham Gyamfi
   Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum and some officials inspecting the ongoing WASSCE at the Kwabenya SHS
Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum and some officials inspecting the ongoing WASSCE at the Kwabenya SHS

In recent times, examination malpractice has become a norm and culture. Examination malpractice is experienced in almost all examinations at every level of education.

Examination malpractice occurs because teachers, parents, security personnel and the examination bodies are reluctant to change their minds and attitudes towards examination.

Examination malpractices are not only limited to Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West African Senior School Certificate Education (WASSCE) candidates alone, but have also been reported in tertiary level examinations too.

The problem is that the country is likely to miss the quality education target in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), if it continues to compromise the integrity of the system of assessment that is part of any quality education delivery system.

Although candidates are engaged and sensitised, quite a number of malpractices are recorded every year.


The predominant form of examination malpractice is copying from colleagues, seeking assistance from invigilators and invigilators also teaching during examinations; teachers smuggling copied answers to students in the examinations; parents and school authorities aiding in the leaking of examination questions; security personnel aiding and abetting illegalities; and referring to materials hidden during the examination.

Examination malpractice is categorised as: giving, receiving, or taking information from others; using unacceptable materials or information and besieging the assessment information.

Cheating or examination malpractices may also be categorised as hi-tech or low- tech, depending on its level of sophistication.

That is, whether the cheating is individual or collaborative. Examination malpractice has graduated to hi-tech and collaborative. This has made the fight against examination malpractice difficult.

Almost all stakeholders of education in one way or the other contribute to examination malpractice. These include parents or guardians and school authorities who buy ‘live’ papers for students to study beforehand or bribe examiners or invigilators to compromise the examination rules; invigilators and supervisors who collect money and turn a blind eye on whatever happens in the examination room; students who want to get the best score at all cost, and the examination officials who construct test items and mark the papers, those in the questions papers printing room, other officials of the examining body who process the question papers, supervise printing arrangements or transport printed questions to examination centres.


The canker of examination is negatively affecting the quality of education in Ghana. As a result of students’ assurance of ‘help’ during the examination, students’ commitment to learning is affected. The entire focus of learning has been placed on passing examinations and so if there is hope for assistance during the examination, there is no need of spending time to learn.

Again, performance of professionals is negatively affected because people are able to cheat in examination even at the level of their professional education.

Thus, the individuals come out from the training with nothing to offer society. The credibility of school assessment process is lost. With that, it becomes difficult to employ people based on their certificates.

It is important to note that those who condone and connive in examination malpractice are not only themselves, but the country in general.

The writer is with the Wesley College of Education, Kumasi. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.