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The Hyperdictionary (2009) defined examination as the act of giving students a test (as by questions) to determine what they know or have learned. Similarly, citing Kpangban, Ajaja & Umedhe (2008) defined examination as an assessment intended to measure knowledge, skill, attitude, physical fitness or classification in many other topics such as beliefs. Examination could also be seen as one of the most objective techniques used in the measurement of learning outcomes at all levels of education in Nigeria and the world over. In another vein, examination was defined in the website as the process of an external administrator formally examining various parties, students or candidates. Examination may be administered orally, on paper, on computer or in a confined area that requires an examinee to physically perform a set of skills. However, despite the importance of examination in teaching and learning situations, a number of factors affect the credibility of examination scores. One of such practices that may affect the reliability of examination scores is examination malpractice. Examination malpractice is any illegal act committed by a student single handedly or in collaboration with others; like fellow students, parents, teachers, supervisors, invigilators, printers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades (Wilayat, 2009). The West African Examinations Council (1992) referred to examination malpractice as any irregular behaviour exhibited by candidates or officials charged with the responsibility of conducting examination, in or outside the examination hall, before, during or after such examination. It involves various methods employed by 13 candidates to cheat during examinations. Similarly, Shonekan (1996) stated that examination malpractice is an act of omission or commission that contravenes those West African Examinations Council’s rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity and reliability of the test and ultimately the integrity of the certificate issued by the Council. Examination malpractice does not occur in the examination hall alone, it occurs before, during and even after the examination. Some forms of examination malpractices are copying on sheet of papers, handkerchiefs, desk/chairs; swapping of answer booklets and collusion with other candidates or external agents. Others include leakage of examination questions before the actual examination day. In some schools, especially, those privately owned, the school authorities sometimes bribe invigilators, supervisors and police personnel drafted to the centres so that they could turn a blind eye when malpractices are being perpetrated. Electronic gadgets like calculators, organizers, radio walkman and mobile phones are also used to carry out examination malpractices. Annually, examination bodies give stern warnings to the candidates to desist from bringing mobile phones into the examination halls but each year, the use of mobile phones to commit examination malpractice is recorded (Onyechere, 2007). Other forms of examination malpractices are bringing books or cribs into the hall, insulting or assaulting supervisor or invigilator, replacement of answer script with another one during or after the examination, swapping of scripts in an examination hall, impersonation, smuggling scripts written outside into the examination hall, writing on handkerchief/thigh, stretching of neck like the Giraffe to look at the work of a fellow candidate, hooligans gaining entry into the examination hall by force when examination is in progress, to remove question paper, leakage, relaxation of vigilance by invigilators, talking, dictation of answers to students, e.t.c. Examination malpractices in Nigeria are successfully perpetrated with the active connivance of students, parents, school authorities, government functionaries, invigilators and sometimes officials of such examination bodies as Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB); The West African Examinations Council, (WAEC); National Examinations Council, (NECO); National Business and Technical Examinations Board, (NABTEB); and National Teachers’ Institute, (NTI). Consequently, examination malpractice is perpetrated for different reasons and it affects the credibility of results in the sense that grades are assigned to candidates wrongly thereby misleading the teacher and other users of the school products in decision making. Denga, (1981) stated that the different factors responsible for examination malpractices could be categorized into three; namely: Psychological, Environment and Intelligence. Psychological factors have to do with all the stress that is often induced by parents, peer pressure groups and students because of an examination. In the same vain, psychological trauma of failure or scoring low grades promotes candidates involvement in examination malpractice. Environmental factors refer to the crowded nature of classrooms and examination halls with few invigilators during examination. Obsolete, obscure and inadequate instructional materials can lure candidates to perpetrate examination malpractice. On the other hand, intelligence quotient IQ vary among individuals; often academically weak candidates try to compare themselves with naturally gifted candidates. When the weak students are not able to meet up with the challenges, they resort to seeking external help to pass their examinations. In view of the fact that examination malpractice continues to occur in different forms and levels, there is the need to determine innovative strategies for curbing the ill practice.


Examination malpractice is one social problem that is disturbing the Nigerian education sector and it requires a prompt remedy. Examination malpractice occurs in all levels of the Nigerian educational sector but the focus of this study is the secondary education level. Studies have shown that a lot of failures and anomalies happen in the careers of individuals because of the impact of the scourge of examination malpractice at this crucial level of education. The more the government, principals, examination bodies and other well meaning individuals try to find solutions to the problem, the more the perpetrators also device ways to frustrate such efforts. The problem is becoming more scientific by the day; it is metamorphosing from the 20 era of candidates copying from fellow candidates to using sophisticated electronic gadgets such as cell phones and concealed ear pieces. The problem of examination malpractice has reduced certificates issued in Nigeria into a worthless paper, such that a number of candidates with outstanding results cannot defend their certificates. The performances of such candidates are not commensurate to the quality of their certificates. Most disheartening is the situation where candidates who have secured admission to study abroad are subjected to dehumanizing treatment because of suspicion on the authenticity of their certificates.


This study seeks to assess the pattern of examination malpractice in higher institutions in Nigeria, their causes, effects and also proffer solutions.

Specifically, the objectives are:

a.       To identify the pattern of examination malpractice in higher institutions.

b.      To identify the causes of examination malpractice in higher institutions.

c.       To proffer solutions to the effect of examination malpractice in higher institutions.

1.4       research Questions

The study is guided by the underlisted research questions:

a.       What are the various patterns of examination malpractice in higher institutions?

b.      What are the causes of examination malpractice in higher institutions?

c.       What are the solutions to the effect of malpractice in higher institutions?

1.5       significance of the study

The findings of the study would be very useful to the following stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, ministries of education, examination bodies and employers of labour. All students/researchers, who are carrying out researches on examination malpractices and other related topics would find findings of the study useful. The study provides useful information for the review of related literature on the causes, types, methods, reasons for examination malpractice, the various available measures put in place for curbing examination malpractice in Nigeria. Findings of the study will aid the students/researchers to have knowledge of the work that has been done by the current researcher on curbing examination malpractice in order for them to conduct further studies in unexplored areas.


The following term are hereby defined as they are used in the content of project work

EXAMINATION:     A formal test of knowledge or ability in a particular subject.

MALRACTICE:      Wrong doing as careless illegally or unacceptable behavior on duty before or during the examination.

“EXPO”:        Leakage of examination paper before or during the examination

ECOMOG”:  A strong device used to cause tension and noise in   examination hall for easy snatching of question paper from the supervisor.

Chapter two

Review of literature

Introduction According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (5th ed.), education is a process of teaching and learning. Akaranga & Ongong (2013) says that education is a necessary process through which young adults are equipped to lead productive lives according to their talents and interests. Through education, learners are not only taught, trained, and adequately guided to acquire relevant skills and knowledge but also how to adapt to acceptable public life. To some people, education is seen as a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality, and acquiring wealth and status for all. It is also often perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentials, with the purpose of developing every individual to their full potential, (Wikipedia). The early years of schooling focuses around developing basic interpersonal communication and literacy skills. Later, education turns towards gaining the knowledge and skills needed to create value and establish a livelihood. Also, people pursue education for its own sake to satisfy innate curiosity, out of interest in a specific subject or skill, or for overall personal development. Education could be formal or informal. Formal education occurs in a structured environment whose explicit purpose is teaching of students. Usually, formal education takes place in a school environment with classrooms of multiple students learning together with a trained, certified teacher of the subject. Whilst informal learning occurs in a variety of places, such as out of school time, in youth programmes at community centres and even village squares. Informal learning does not follow a specified curriculum and may originate accidentally, sporadically, in association with certain occasions, from changing practical requirements. It is not necessarily planned to be pedagogically conscious, systematic and according to subjects, but rather unconsciously incidental, holistically problem oriented, and related to situation management and fitness for life. In the traditional African educational system, teaching and learning were basically practical. The students learned orally and through close observation of their master. In fact it was through imitation, no issuance of certificate to prove completion of course of study since the society was interested in skill acquisition and practical demonstration of the arts learned. Definitely, there was no need for certification, since education was viewed as a means to an end and not an end in itself (Akaranga & Ongong, 2013). The western knowledge acquisition system or formal education is measured on certificates. Yet, certificate is not a full proof of knowledge retention. Before certificate is awarded, the students have to be assessed or examined in the field they have been trained. Nnam & Inah (2015) notes that examination is a yardstick against which students or candidates’ competence and progress are formally measured and appraised in the education sector. According to Emaikwu (2012), examination as part of evaluation in education is aimed at determining a learner’s level of skill acquisition or intellectual competence and understanding after a given training. Evaluation usually enables the teacher to be effectively ready for further teaching as this forms a feedback. George & Ukpong (2013) opines that examination is the most common tool around which the entire system of education revolves, it is the instrument used to decide who is permitted to move to the next academic level. Malik & Shah (1998) cited in Akaranga & Ongong (2013) observed that examination is not only a process of assessing the progress of students but, it also motivates and helps them to know their academic strengths and weaknesses apart from providing teachers with opportunities to try new methods of teaching. But when examination is not properly conducted, the expected feedback may not result. Hence, the result of such evaluation leads to wrong decision and judgement which affect the teacher, the learner, the entire education industry, as well as the society (Ojonemi et al., 2013). Whenever there is examination irregularity or malpractice, the validity and resulting outcome is questionable. The common belief on certificates as the only yardstick to measure ones qualification has led many Nigerians into buying educational certificates to prove their academic worth. Examination malpractice in Nigeria is as old as the country herself. According to (Anzene, 2014; Uzoigwe; Onuka & Amoo), examination malpractice was first reported in Nigeria in the year 1914, when the question papers of the Senior Cambridge Local Examinations were reportedly seen by candidates before the scheduled date of the examination. The Examination Malpractice Act (1999) explains examination malpractice as any act of omission or commission by a person who in anticipation of, before, during or after any examination fraudulently secure any unfair advantage for himself or any other person in such a manner that contravenes the rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity, reliability, authenticity of the examination and ultimately the integrity of the certificates issued. Again, examination malpractice is commonly defined as a deliberate wrong doing contrary to official examination rules designed to place a candidate at an unfair advantage or disadvantage, (Wilayat, 2009 quoted in Akaranga & Ongong, 2013). Alutu & Aluede ( 2006) cited in Jimoh (2009) remarked that examination malpractice is any irregular behaviour exhibited by a candidate or anybody charged with the conduct of examination before, during or after the examination that contravenes the rules and regulations governing such examination. Onuka & Amusan (2008) cited in Onuka & Durowoju (2013) defined examination malpractice as any dishonest or unauthorized action or deed committed by a student on his own or in collaboration with others like fellow students, guardians, parents, teachers, head teacher, examination officials, supervisors, invigilators, security officers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades. From all the definitions, it is clear that examination malpractice tends to confer undue advantage or undeserved grade to the perpetrators of the act. Again, it may be committed by not only the candidates but also by other bodies charged with the responsibilities of examination management. Undoubtedly, examination malpractice has been a social problem for decades, but the rate and manner it is perpetrated nowadays calls for serious concern. The rate of this crime has become so widespread that there is virtually no examination anywhere at all levels and outside the formal school system that there is no one form of illegal practice or another, (Nnam & Inah, 2015; Ojonemi et al., 2013). Examination malpractices are common everywhere and every examination season witnesses the emergence of new and ingenious ways of cheating, (Nnam &Inah, 2015; Anzene, 2014; Ojonemi et al., 2013; Jimoh, 2009).

Forms of Examination Malpractice

In every examination, students develop new methods of perpetrating examination malpractices. The instances of examination malpractices vary. They range from impersonation, leakage of questions, tampering with results, and computer fraud to fraudulent practices by invigilators. Some forms of malpractices are discussed below.

1. Collusion among candidates themselves and between them and examination officials: Collusion occurs when candidates writing the same examination copies from one another. When examination official leaks the examination materials to the intended examinees, parents, or over zealous school managers prior to the examination time, the malpractice committed also falls under collusion. Collusion leads to mass cheating in examination.

2. Impersonation: This is a case where another candidate or hired mercenary sits for examination on behalf of the genuine candidate. Male candidates sitting in for girls or vice versa, and twins writing examinations for each other.

3. Giraffing: This form of cheating takes its name from one of the African wild animals with an extremely long neck, legs and small head, (Akaranga & Ongong, 2013). It is a process in which an examinee st

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