Examining Effective Factors, Inhibitory Factors and the Most Common Methods of Cheating in Students: A Systematic Review


1 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

3 MD, Pediatrician, Department of Pediatric, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

4 MD, General Surgeon, Department of General Surgery, North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences, Bojnourd, Iran.

5 MD, Pediatrician, Department of Pediatric, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

6 Jiroft University of Medical Science, Jiroft, Kerman, Iran.



Cheating is a common unethical phenomenon in educational systems. This study aimed to investigate the effective factors, inhibitory factors, and the most common methods of cheating among Iranian students.
Materials and Methods: This systematic review was conducted by a systematic search of electronic resources in English such as Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE with no time limit from inception up to June 2021 using the following keywords, alone or in combination: "Cheating", "Students", "Inhibitory factors", "Iran", "Iranian students" and "Common factors".
Results: Ten to 80% of students have experienced cheating at least once throughout their education. Some effective factors on cheating include fear of rejection or failure in subjects, difficult course/subject, the large volume of content, insufficient study time, and professors' unreasonable expectations from students. There are inhibitory factors that limit cheating, such as individual conscience, individual beliefs, and the atmosphere in the classroom. The most common methods of cheating mentioned by students include looking at a classmates’ paper and copying their answers, showing their own exam papers to other classmates, and exchanging answers through certain gestures. Cheating was more frequent among male students compared to females (p <0.05), and also among students in the 18-24 age group compared to other groups.
Cheating is prevalent among university students, particularly in difficult subjects and large volumes. It is possible to reduce this phenomenon by strengthening personal and religious beliefs, improving the classroom atmosphere, formative tests, and changing the type of exam questions.