In the 2006/2007 season, it came to our attention that there have been some occurrences of cheating. Even though the NSML is run mainly for fun and educational purposes rather than for large rewards, we still take cheating extremely seriously. To be clear, cheating is not tolerated in any form.
During the contest, communication with other teams during the questions or relays is not permitted and constitutes cheating.
During the contest, using any form of unauthorized media, such as but not limited to computers, books, cell phones, two-way pagers, passed notes, or hand signals, to access information or to communicate with people outside the team is not permitted and constitutes cheating.
Generally, if it would constitute cheating on a test in school, then the NSML considers it cheating as well.
Cheating During the Relay
The incidents of cheating which were brought to our attention occurred during the relay portion of the competition. These incidents included students:
- working on questions not assigned to them;
- writing notes to other students on the answer key;
- filling out answers other than the answer they are assigned to fill out.
All of the above are not permitted and constitute cheating.
As an example of the above would be: Geoff fills in his answer for C and passes the sheet to Sable. He can see that Sable is struggling to find D, and, looking over he sees Sable's question. He works on the question, finds the answer, grabs the answer sheet back from Sable, writes either the answer in the D box or a hint on how to do the question on the answer sheet, and hands it back to Sable.
Another example: Sherri, Eric, Geoff, and Sable are on an individual relay team. Sable puts in her answer for D and hands the sheet to the proctor. There is an incorrect answer, so the sheet is handed back. The sheet gets passed back and forth for awhile. Finally, Eric is frustrated, so he writes on the sheet "All our's are right - Sable do your's again!" and passes the sheet to Sable.
Doing things like this constitutes cheating on the relays. On the relays, students are permitted to do the following:
- Work only on the question(s) assigned to them. Students must ensure that no one else can see their questions and answers, just like on a test in school.
- Writing only in the box on the answer sheet assigned to them (obviously, if there is too much crossing out of answers and the box is illegible, writing next to the box is fine). No messages to other players. No circling of other people's answers.
- The only thing they can write in the box is the answer to their question. No hints to other team members. No messages. Nothing but the answer.
- Passing the sheet back and forth however they like and to whomever they like. In the second example, if Eric hadn't written the note, just passed the sheet back to Sable, that would not constitute cheating. Because he communicated to another team member illegally, he cheated.
If Your Team Is Caught Cheating
The NSML will be punishing teams which are caught cheating. Our policy for teams caught cheating is as follows:
- If a team is caught cheating, they will receive zero on the question/relay on which the cheating is found, as well as zero on everything past that point in the contest. At the end of the contest, their supervising adult will be informed.
- For the next two contests, a mark is placed next to the school from which the cheating team came. If no more incidents of cheating are discovered during those two contests, the mark is erased. If cheating is discovered by any team from that school during the next two contests, the team that is discovered cheating will have (1) apply to them. As well, no teams from the school will be allowed to participate in the next two contests for which they are eligible to participate. Since teams and team members change between contests, we unfortunately cannot simply ban teams. As well, this is a good peer pressure way to ensure no cheating occurs.
- The marks are not erased at the end of the season. If a team is caught cheating on the third contest or the provincial final, the mark will stay for the contests in the next season.