Open Access Research article

Cheating on examinations and its predictors among undergraduate students at Hawassa University College of Medicine and Health Science, Hawassa, Ethiopia

Anteneh Assefa Desalegn* and Asres Berhan

Author Affiliations

Pharmacology Unit, School of Medicine, Hawassa University, Hawassa, P.O Box-1560, Ethiopia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:89  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-89

Published: 30 April 2014



Cheating on examinations in academic institutions is a worldwide issue. When cheating occurs in medical schools, it has serious consequences for human life, social values, and the economy. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of cheating and identify factors that influence cheating among students of Hawassa University College of medicine and health science.


A cross sectional study was conducted from May through June 2013. A pre-tested self-administered, structured questionnaire was used to collect self-reported data regarding cheating. Data were entered and analyzed using SPSS version 20. Descriptive statistics were used for data summarization and presentation. Degree of association was measured by Chi Square test, with significance level set at p = 0.05. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations.


The prevalence of self-reported cheating was found to be 19.8% (95% CI = 17.4-21.9). About 12.1% (95% CI = 10.2-13.9) of students disclosed cheating on the entrance examination. The majority of students (80.1% (95% CI = 77.9-82.3) disclosed that they would not report cheating to invigilators even if they had witnessed cheating. Analysis by multiple regression models showed that students who cheated in high school were more likely to cheat (adjusted OR = 1. 80, 95% CI = 1. 01–3.19) and that cheating was less likely among students who didn’t cheat on entrance examinations (adjusted OR = 0. 25, 95% CI = 0. 14–0.45). Dining outside the university cafeteria and receiving pocket money of Birr 300 or more were strongly associated with cheating (adjusted OR = 3.08, 95% CI = 1.54-6.16 and adjusted OR = 1.69 (95% CI = 1.05-2.72), respectively. The odds of cheating among students were significantly higher for those who went to private high school, were substance users, and didn’t attend lectures than for those who attended government schools, were not substance abusers, and attended lectures.


Our findings have important implications for development of an institution’s policies on academic integrity. By extension, they affect the policies of high schools. Increased levels of supervision during entrance examination, mandated attendance at lectures, and reduction of substance use are likely to reduce cheating. No significant association was found with background, level of parental education, grade point average, and interest in field of study.

Cheating; Lecture; Academic dishonesty; Higher institutions