The rampant occurrence of examination malpractice and certificate racketeering in the recent times has become an issue of growing importance and concern in the global education system. Most examinations are marked by complaints of various forms of malpractice, and in most of these examinations, cheating is a recurrent event (Petters & Okon, 2014).

Cheating in examinations is a worldwide phenomenon (Nyamwange, Ondima & Onderi, 2013) and, according to Anderman and Midgley (2000), about 80% of high-achieving high school students and 75% of college students admitted having cheated in an examination. Isangedighi (2007) also observed that the rising wave of examination malpractice amongst today’s youths poses a big challenge to contemporary society.

Adams and Esther (2013) lamented that it is regrettable, that in most countries of the world, the examination system is infected with examination misconduct or wrongdoing.

According to Shahid (2007), examinations are designed to evaluate the academic achievement of students and to ascertain whether they have achieved a standard of academic learning and knowledge. Examinations are considered the basis for promotion to higher classes, a source of motivation for learners to advance to additional studies, and a basis for prediction about students’ future education and job aptitudes. Nyamwange et al. (2013) opined that school examinations are a tool for measuring learners’ mastery of content and instructors’ effectiveness in delivering the content at different levels of schooling in education systems all over the world.

Educators have viewed examination malpractice variously. Busayo (2008) viewed examination malpractice as an improper and dishonest act with a view to obtaining an unmerited advantage. Bruno and Obidigbo (2012) viewed examination malpractice as any action carried out by stakeholders such as educational administrators, teachers, parents or students that is likely to render the assessment or examination ineffective or useless. Ifijeh, Michael-Onuoha, Ilogho, and Osinulu (2015) defined examination malpractice as dishonest practice that encompasses any action by an individual or group of students to gain an undue advantage in any form of assessment, be it coursework, tests, or examinations.

In the same vein, Petters and Okon (2014) argued that despite ugly penalties such as suspension, methods of cheating continue to increase in strength and sophistication.

They further argued that examination may no longer be a true test of one’s ability since most students are not serious with their studies and indulge in examination malpractice as a shortcut to success.

Examinations should be reliable and consistent as means of measuring students’ achievement (Wilayat, 2009), however, when irregularities or examination malpractice occurs, then the validity and resulting outcomes become questionable (Akaranga & Ongong, 2013). To this end, Fasasi (2006) concluded that examination malpractice is an unethical act because it encourages mediocrity in the sense that students who succeed through such unorthodox methods may be rated equal to those who struggle on their own to excel.

Petters and Okon (2014) observed that although many efforts have been put forward by different governments, school authorities and individuals to eradicate this malady, in most instances these efforts have proved unsuccessful. Examination malpractice is becoming a menace in many educational systems. Many reasons have been given for the prevalence of examination malpractice, and the causes are thought to be multi-dimensional.

Asante-Kyei and Nduro (2014) listed a number of additional factors that lead to examination malpractice, including cultural practices, school programs, teaching or learning environment, and characteristics of teachers and students. They noted that cheating has become an indicator of a serious breakdown in the cultural structure as a result of the confusion between cultural norms and goals and the capacities of members to act in accordance with it.

According to Anzene (2014), the root causes of examination malpractice include the following: an emphasis on paper qualifications or certificates, inadequate teaching and learning facilities such as classrooms, libraries, laboratories, high student/teacher ratios which in turn affect teaching and learning, poor moral upbringing of some of the youths by parents, and students’ vices such as cultism, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and truancy.

In a study by Suleman, Gul, Ambrin, and Kamran (2015), factors that contribute to examination malpractice at the secondary school level in Kohat Division in Pakistan were also identified. The study found the following as factors that contribute to examination malpractice: corruption, poor implementation of examination rules, poor

invigilation, students and parental threats, lack of fear of punishment, inadequate preparation for examinations, and collusion. Other factors included disloyalty of examination bodies, fear of failure, poor morale, and economic depression of supervisory staff. The sample for Suleman et al.’s (2015) study was made up of 840 respondents, selected through simple random sampling technique from 80 all-male secondary schools. A semi-structured questionnaire was used as a research instrument for data collection.

Descriptive statistical analysis, that is, simple percentage, mean, standard deviation as well as inferential statistics was conducted. Specifically, ANOVAs were applied for the statistical analysis of data (Suleman et al., 2015).

Furthermore, the Suleman et al.’s (2015) study revealed that the various forms of examination malpractice included the following: bringing unauthorized materials to the examination hall, sending of prepared answers to students by teachers and parents, impersonation of test takers, leakage of questions and papers, and script-changing.

The study made the following recommendations:

  • Examination laws and rules should be implemented effectively. Students who are guilty of examination malpractice should be given severe punishment according to examination rules so that it may serve as a lesson to others.
    • Students should be thoroughly body-searched before entering the examination hall. A system of finger-printing should be introduced for identification of the students to avoid impersonation.
  • The number of invigilators and supervisors should be increased in the examination halls.

Yusuf, Olofunke, and Bamgbose (2015) investigated undergraduates’ perceptions of factors responsible for examination malpractice in Osun State University in Nigeria.

Their findings revealed poor study habits, poor concentration during lectures, and peer influence. The descriptive study had a sample population of 200 undergraduates. Data collected were analyzed using frequency counts, mean scores, t-test and ANOVAs. The study recommended that functioning counseling units should be established in tertiary institutions to provide guidance to students on educational issues and other related problems. The study also recommended that the school management should enforce strong punitive measures to any students that engage in examination malpractice.

Examination malpractice has many negative impacts. According to Akaranga and Ongong (2013), examination malpractice often leads to expulsion of students from academic institutions. According to Adelakum and Lawal (2008), the effects of examination malpractice are erosion of confidence in the education system and loss of credibility in the education assessment, loss of confidence in examination agencies, which leads to loss of confidence in the certificates that are issued by the agencies, and rising cost of conducting examinations, especially in areas where leakage has been documented.