Are you considering cheating on your upcoming SHL tests?
In this full disclosure article, I’ll tell you why people cheat on tests, how people cheat, and whether or not it’s worth doing..
Practice… it’s the only legitimate way to improve your scores, you’ll sleep better at night and probably get better results in your tests too.
Still want to read about cheating?
OK, here goes!
Online aptitude tests can be extremely hard. And they’re often the first gatekeepers on the path to the best graduate jobs.
Cheating can become very tempting. It seems easy enough and the likelihood of getting caught, is low.
But is it really the right thing to do?
First: Why Do People Cheat On Reasoning Tests?
On the face of it, the answer seems obvious: to get ahead in the recruitment process.
Rightly or wrongly, many see aptitude tests such as SHL/CEB as unfair – a way to filter out candidates in bulk that doesn’t fully take into account each person’s strengths.
How can some sums decide whether a person will be a good client-facing auditor?
In this line of thought, cheating is simply a way to rebalance an unfair system weighted heavily against candidates.
Some will also feel that they have some great strengths to bring to the role.
But those strengths aren’t appreciated by the aptitude tests, or perhaps that person gets nervous during exams and is likely to do less well than they should.
It can be easy to think, therefore, that it’s okay to cheat through this first hurdle, because you’ll make up for it by being exceptional later in the process.
Of course, some just don’t care. Cheating gains them an advantage, and it’s as simple as that.
A WikiJob survey found that 63% of those asked whether they believe aptitude tests are a good way to select the best candidates for a job said that they didn’t help.
Only 18% thought they were useful!
When it came to cheating, 7% of respondents said they had cheated, and a further 15% had considered it.
Notably, out of the cheaters questioned, 88% said their outcome was positive.
This survey also asked how people cheated.
The most popular, at 60%, was getting another person (either paid for or just a friend) to take the test for them.
The second most popular, at 18%, was accessing the question bank in some way.
How To Cheat
Let’s go through some of the methods people use to cheat on aptitude tests.
We’ll also look at what companies do to try and prevent these methods, and what the consequences are.
Method 1: Get someone else to do it
Cited as the most popular method of cheating on the WikiJob survey, the main method of cheating is to get someone else to do it for you.
They can either be a friend who will do it for a free, or you can use a plethora of websites whose help you pay for.
Here are some examples:
Note that I won’t even link out to these websites, that how dodgy they are!
These are by no means high quality, super ethical businesses! And please do be aware we cannot verify the legitimacy or reliability of any of the listed websites.
These are dodgy and potentially dangerous resources. Use at your own risk.
To find out more, we reached out to some of these websites for comment on why they offer their service and whether they consider it cheating.
One manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said:
“As far as what my thoughts are on the ethics of things, well this site is my main source of income as I have a sick kid. I don’t think too much about it to be honest. Maybe I should but I don’t really have time.”
Some websites also write up their reasoning in an ‘ethos’ page. One offers a four-point counter-argument to common accusations levied at them.
Amongst other points, they say:
“Society has allowed it to become an accepted fact that those who can pay will always have an edge over those who can’t. And as such No Need To Study is merely fundamental market economics in action.”
“The truth is students who work with us are merely people who face harsh realities and take decisive decisions.”
“We do it in a way that students who use us aren’t going to go out in the world and do any actual damage, our no med school policy and such were created specifically with this in mind.”
It strikes me that these businesses don’t feel too proud of themselves. If you use them, you might not feel too proud of yourself either.
Method 2: Team effort
This is similar to the first method, but watered down.
Instead of someone taking the test for you, that person (or a group of people) help you with the test as you take it.
So a question comes up and you discuss it together, eventually settling on an answer.
Although of course still disallowed, this can feel less like cheating to many, as ultimately you have the final say over the answer.
The downside to this method is that in tests with stricter time limits, there might not be real time for discussion and it can instead prove detrimental.
Method 3: The SHL question bank
SHL/CEB tests typically work using banks of questions.
If there are 20 questions on a test, those 20 might be randomly chosen from a question bank of 200 that changes for each intake.
If you can access at least a substantial portion of that question bank before you take the test, then you can prepare the answers in advance, significantly increasing your chance of scoring highly.
The question then becomes how do you access that question bank.
A method that works with smaller question banks (and to smaller advantage) is to take the test normally – taking screen shots of each question – and then turning off your internet somewhere towards the end.
You can normally then contact the company’s support, explain that your internet went down while taking the test, and be allowed to start again.
If the question bank is small enough, there’s a fair chance that some of the questions you screenshotted will come up again.
Alternatively, you can create multiple fake applications that progress to the test, taking screenshots of each question in each test you take.
Employer Countermeasures and Consequences
For all methods, the most common form of deterrent and countermeasure is an in-person resit.
Not all companies will do this, but it can be difficult to tell which do and which don’t. And it can change for each intake..
Typically at the assessment centre, you will be asked to take one or more of the tests again while supervised.
Of course, they don’t expect candidates to score exactly the same as their online attempt. If you fail that test, it’s likely to be the end of the road anyway.
But if you pass but the results of your online and offline tests are drastically different, it will still raise alarm bells.
Employers could then also consider other evidence – such as the IP address of the device you took your test on – to determine whether it’s likely that you cheated.
There are plenty of reasons why you might have performed very differently in person to your online test: anxiety, illness, or just a bad day.. But employers are familiar with cheaters.
Do you really want your potential employer to even consider you as someone who had to cheat on your aptitude tests because you didn’t think you’d make the grade?
And remember, it’s not exactly a fair court of law.
If a potential employer suspects you of cheating, at any stage of the interview process (or even when you’re employed), they are within their rights to simply remove you from the process and perhaps also blacklist you from applying again.
For the third method – accessing the question bank – most companies counteract this by having a sufficiently large question bank so that the chances of receiving the same question again is very low, and therefore won’t make a significant difference.
A more advanced countermeasure would be to track the questions that have been sent to your device, application, and/or IP address and remove them from the bank for any future attempts.
Is Cheating Worth It?
Unsurprisingly, it’s difficult to get reliable information on exactly what anti-cheating methods a particular company uses.
That means that cheating will always be a risk.
Ultimately, you can proceed in three ways:
- Take the risk of cheating
- Apply to enough companies that there’s a good chance you’ll succeed at least once
- Don’t cheat, practice instead
If you do cheat, you must accept that there’s a chance you’ll get found out. And if that happens, it’s highly likely you’ll end up blacklisted from the company of your dreams.
If you’re less concerned about working for a specific company, you can take a shotgun approach: apply to as many firms as possible, cheating on each, and hope you slip through one of the nets.
This method will be expensive if you pay for the tests to be taken.
The chances of getting caught if companies actively try is quite high.
It’s difficult to get around an in-person resit, or a question bank of 1,000 questions.
You will likely only be successful with companies that don’t bother too much with anti-cheat measures.
There is a further risk, too. Getting the job isn’t the end of the process.
If your mathematics skills are weak and they’re crucial to your job, then faking your way through the aptitude test might not help you.
If it quickly becomes clear that you’re hopeless with numbers, your job might not be safe.
So What If You Want to Guarantee Passing Your Reasoning Tests But You Don’t Want To Cheat?
Plenty of websites offer information and practice materials for the tests (including our free tests here).
Graduate Monkey – as an example – also offer a coaching service if you’d like a more tailored approach to your practice.
While these methods do require a little more effort than the cheating methods we’ve explained, they do offer several good advantages.
- You don’t need to worry about getting caught
- They are much cheaper than paying for someone to take your test for you
- The practice and knowledge will stay with you for each test you end up taking, not just for one
For these reasons, while cheating might be useful in the short term – albeit risky – old fashioned practice is much more useful in the long term.
You won’t have to repeatedly pay for someone to take the test for you and that’s worth bearing in mind because the aptitude tests are not the only part of the application.
Even a top scoring candidate can fall down in other areas – the interview, assessment centre, etc. – and if you need to start another application you’ll be back to square one.
If you’ve practice the tests extensively, you won’t be back at square one – a lot of the preparation will already be done.
So should you cheat?
Only you can answer that question.
But our recommendation is of course, definitely not!
You can easily guarantee your success with honest practice and your skills will last for life.