Can Zoom Detect Cheating?

Writing online exams is not uncommon, but online learning has become the norm since the start of 2020 and our current pandemic. Even in physical exam rooms, some students still manage to cheat on their papers. Many student bodies use Zoom as a tool to write exams but can Zoom detect cheating?

Zoom, as a stand-alone system, cannot detect cheating.  The Zoom system does not possess the advanced AI to detect when students are cheating automatically. Using Zoom as a proctoring tool while students are writing their exams can be a highly useful and effective tool to help curb cheating.  

Zoom can be used to raise the level of difficulty for students to access any unauthorized materials they could use for cheating. If students are highly motivated to cheat, they will succeed. The deterrent factor created by Zoom can be highly effective in combatting cheating.

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How To Proctor Online Exams Using Zoom

There are three distinct aspects of exam integrity, and you can use Zoom proctoring to support the following;

  • You can verify the student’s identity and check that their immediate surroundings are free of any unauthorized devices or materials.
  • You can raise the difficulty students face in collaborating without authorization or using unauthorized resources without detection during the exam.
  • You can use the Zoom recording as an evidence source to supplement information and investigate suspected cheating.

Usually, the academic institution will require every proctoring session done through Zoom to be recorded as evidence for both the student and the administration. This assists in making fair judgments if there is ever suspected dishonesty.

Zoom as an application cannot detect minor changes in eye movement, head-turning, or other pages being opened on a browser – therefore, screen sharing is critical.

How Do Students Cheat When Using Zoom?

Cheating when using an online platform is significantly easier than when writing an exam in the physical presence of teachers or moderators. Students who set out to cheat tend to get very creative, and here are some ways they try and cheat.

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#1 – Old School Style

Even though online learning platforms have advanced significantly, aspiring cheaters love the traditional cheating methods as they are usually the most reliable. Paper notes written and stuck against the desk, monitor, or written on their palms. Seasoned proctors typically pay close attention to the surroundings and pick up things like head-turning to a specific side more than necessary.

#2 – Screenshots

Some students will use the technology they have to their availability to cheat if they are particularly tech-savvy and can utilize their phones to take screenshots without being caught. Zoom, unfortunately, does not have the technology to analyze keystrokes if the student were to use their laptop to take screenshots. 

#3 – Water breaks

Usually, you are allowed to have water or a drink with you in the session. Although there are no rules against staying hydrated, some students use that and paste notes on the inside of the bottle label.

#4 – Using Furniture As A Cover

Students have been known to use various furniture to cover up notes or posters with cheat notes; they can be hidden from the proctor’s sight by many things. Blinds are a favorite and used often.

How To Use Zoom To Check Your Student’s Surroundings

Usually, it is the institution’s policy that the proctor checks the student’s surroundings as thoroughly as possible. Zoom has a screen sharing option so that the proctor can check every open tab and keep it like that for the exam duration.

  • Set up the waiting room through Zoom.
  • Students can be added to the meeting and check each room by taking control of the remote pan feature.
  • Room checks should be done as rapidly as possible to ensure exams start on time.
  • Screen sharing should be standard throughout the exam.

How To Prevent Students From Cheating When Using Zoom

  • If you have students from multiple time zones, set up different papers and make sure none of the questions are repeated. Offer two to three sessions and space them 12 hours apart.
  • Use an ‘open book’ style exam and allocate set materials the students can access for reference purposes.
  • Formulate different versions of the same question for each time zone. This way, the difficulty is raised and prevents students from communicating these to one another.
  • Use ‘ink and paper’ uploads as far as possible. They can access the questions through the Zoom portal but must upload the answers written down on their exam pads through a portal app you approve.
  • When using ‘ink and paper,’ students can only use the computer’s mouse, touchpad, or keyboard to scroll through the questions. This way, when using Zoom, it will make it easier for the proctor to detect cheating.

 What To Do If You Suspect A Student Of Cheating On Zoom?

If you proctor an exam and you are suspicious of a student’s behavior, there are specific steps you must take to voice your concerns.

  • If you are the only proctor on the exam, you can request a fellow proctor to view the recording and make a judgment.
  • Send the concerning student a private message and ask them for a meeting in the break-out room. It would be best if you immediately asked the student there in secret to stop the behavior right away. You can ask the student to show you any material you suspect is unauthorized and if it is, ask the student to remove the item or material immediately.
  • Let the student finish the exam and afterward communicate in private your concerns. Always do this in private and never in an accusing tone. Always use text and never voice notes or calls.
  • If the student does not wish to cooperate, do not force the student but record the incident as thoroughly as possible.
  • Refer the matter to a superior at the academy for further investigation and, upon their ruling, possible disciplinary action against the student.


Zoom as an application and system is an excellent tool in online examinations; however, it has a few shortcomings in detecting cheating on exams. It lacks the advanced built-in AI that many universities and colleges use to see any unauthorized body or facial movements and keystrokes and whispering.

Suppose the students know that the proctor is familiar with Zoom and its features and understands the various methods students use to try and cheat. In that case, they can successfully use the Zoom application to proctor online exams.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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