Too Bad to be Genius


“If you don’t cheat, life will cheat on you.” This is the rationalization of those who are caught cheating or who have become congenital cheaters when asked for an explanation on why they persist with their dirty trick.

Close your eyes. Breathe in. It is time to lift the first page of your test booklet and begin conquering the challenge. With a pencil in your hand, shading the best answer…is it possible that you could ace the examination without committing the act of cheating?

A movie inspired by real-life news of students cheating on the SAT was released recently. Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Bad Genius is acknowledged as the highest grossing film iThailand this year, as well as the most profitable Thai film distributed worldwide of all time so far.

Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying in her brilliant acting as Mentor Lynn, a scholar math genius in a prestigious high school, invents a system of hand signals, based on certain piano pieces, and uses them to send answers during examinations. The cheating business rises to international levels, particularly on the STIC exam – standardized test for University admissions, which earns millions of baht.

Bad Genius gives a picture of a school-society with students of unequal status. A straight-A student earns money from letting others copy his answers and uses them for daily living. But, a student from a high status family uses his money to improve his academic
performance while cheating.

Once you get and copy the answer, you feel like it’s over because you finally touched the peak of success. We definitely understand that cheating is against the rule. But the real question is what or who pushes us to commit this contagious but heinous academic crime?

Students cheat for self-satisfaction to obtain a high score. According to Amy Novotney, one of the biggest drivers of cheating in schools is the increasing amount of pressure on students to succeed academically. Maybe some students have high hopes of becoming a part of the academic scholars to put themselves through school. Some students have grade quota or maintaining grade for their courses that if they fall short, they could be transferred to another degree program.

Several studies confirm that students who are more motivated by their peers make them more likely to cheat. Some may say that they do it to be cool and appreciated by other members of the class. Class geeks tended to be more accepted if they would be the geek- type who shares their ideas during examinations.Those that refuse to become tagged as selfish.

The more we expose ourselves to cheating, the more the act transforms into a habit. We become used to it that if we are not able to study before taking an examination, we are most likely to rely on our seatmate’s answers than just leave the answer sheet
blank. Psychological research has also shown that cheating actually changes a person’s sense of right and wrong; hence, after cheating, some students stop viewing the habit of cheating as something wrong.

The movie poses a challenge to everyone. Maybe the movie became a hit, because it is very relatable to many. As students, we’re not always coming in the University prepared for an examination, quiz, or recitation. And this is where the challenge presents
itself. Are you going to panic because you’re close to a dead end? Or would you choose to be “resourceful” and use other sources that might be available? Are you going to be enticed by the temptation and just give in and look at other classmates’ work?

Life is a series of losing and winning; however, in the scheme of the cheating business, everyone could benefit. Again, take a deep breath. Ask yourself. Is cheating really your ticket to have good grades? Is cheating your way to achieve success? Do you consider
yourself great when you are actually just a duplication of another person’s hard work?

Think. Choose. The real world does not condone or reward cheaters. Not all the time.