Is Using Test Banks Cheating? Do Professors Use Them

Is Using Test Banks Cheating

The work of a professor can be stressful. From research and lesson planning to grading assignments, professors always seem to have something on their plate.

Creating new questions for assessment can be another source of stress. Professors have to continually create new questions for student assessment. This is why test banks are very important to professors.

Publisher Test Banks (PTBs) are supplemental and copyrighted multiple-choice or problem-based questions and answers provided by textbook publishers for classroom usage.

And while it may be an asset to professors who may be pressed for time, there’s been a lot of debate around its usage by students.

After all, if students use these test banks, the professor might not be able to distinguish between students who grasp the lecture material and those who do not.

Unfortunately, test banks have a major drawback as students have found ways to access them in our information age. In some cases, students can see their actual exam questions ahead of the actual exam.

Despite this, do professors still use test banks? And does it constitute cheating when students use these test banks?

Is Using Test Banks Cheating

Instructors leverage assessments to determine which students have a higher comprehension of materials and which students do not. This becomes difficult when students are tested on questions that they previously discovered.

Students would be able to answer the questions, not because they understand the materials, but simply because they memorized a solution. So, to answer the question of whether using test banks constitutes cheating, we’ll say:

Using a test bank is typically regarded as academic dishonesty in most educational institutions as it invalidates the purpose of assessment. Higher grades would instead reflect a student’s luck and memorizing abilities rather than their comprehension of materials.

Why Test Banks Are Considered Cheating

Let’s take a look at why test banks are considered cheating.

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School Regulations

While individual professors may have their regulations around test banks, most educational institutions forbid students from using them unless otherwise stated by the professor.

Students identified as using test banks could have their papers canceled as it invalidates the assessment. After all, assessments are meant to test students’ understanding of content, not their luck.

Keep in mind that educational institutions are responsible for training and producing adequately prepared engineers, doctors, writers, pilots, and more. The last thing any school wants is to produce a pilot who passed their examinations but doesn’t understand how to land a plane.

Unless your professor returns your old papers to you, using test banks could be considered academic dishonesty in most educational institutions.

Invalidates Assessment

Assessments are used to gauge how well students have understood the course material. Students that use test banks to pass exams do so simply by chance and not because they truly understand the course subject.

These students end up passing without adequate training in their area of expertise. Not only can this negatively impact them in the future, but it could also lead to workplace mishaps in some cases.

A study by Christine Cheng and Larry Crumbley revealed that 48% of students use Publisher Test Banks (PTBs), resulting in 30% gaining a performance advantage.

Limited Pool Of Questions

Some courses only have a limited pool of questions that can be leveraged in assessments. In such cases, professors ensure that students do not retain old papers as the same questions would be repeated for upcoming students.

Students who gain access to these questions would most likely score higher which only shows their ability to memorize answers, as opposed to understanding the course materials.

Do Professors Use Test Banks

Yes, despite knowledge of students’ awareness and access to question banks, professors continue to leverage publisher test banks in their assessments. Nevertheless, professors occasionally use paraphrased versions of questions from test banks in their evaluations.

Creating new questions for assessment can be time-consuming work. It’s easier for professors to leverage test banks for multiple-choice, and true/false questions.

Test banks are written by experts making them great resources for professors. This can be especially useful when there’s a large pool of questions for the professor to use in the assessment.

Why Do Professors Use Test Banks

It’s not rare to see professors using test banks despite students continually finding ways to access these questions. So, let’s take a look at why professors use these test banks.


Professors have busy schedules and spend their days researching, preparing for lessons, grading, and more. Toping this up with creating unique questions for student assessment can be very stressful.

Having a test bank makes their work a little less stressful. Creating objective-answer-style questions promises to be daunting tasks. It’s easier to just randomize questions from test banks for students’ assessment. That said, some may just be too lazy to spend their time creating new questions.

Created By Professions

Publisher test banks (PTBs) are created by publishers with expertise in their respective fields. Having written the textbooks adopted for classroom usage, these publishers are well-positioned to provide adequate questions on the subject matter in question.

This makes PTBs a valuable resource for professors. Instead of reading through these textbooks to create their questions, professors can simply leverage the questions created by the same professionals who published the books.

Large Pool Of Questions

While a few courses may have a limited pool of questions available in a test bank that can be used for assessment, most courses may have a considerably larger pool of questions to choose from.

This becomes a huge asset to professors as they always have questions they can use for assessment. They don’t even need to repeat the same questions as the test bank may have thousands of questions on that particular topic.

Limited Pool Of Questions

Creating questions for some courses can be quite challenging. Professors are only able to create a few questions despite their efforts. Having access to a test bank can be useful in such cases as it provides additional questions to include in their assessment.


Where Do Professors Get Test Questions From

While professors may create test questions, publishers provide them with copyrighted multiple-choice and problem-based questions and answers when they adopt their textbooks for classroom usage.
Professors can leverage questions from test banks or modify them for use in their assessments. Students on the other hand are usually forbidden from accessing such test banks.

Can You Get Caught Using A Test Bank

Yes, test banks are copyrighted and controlled by publishers. Identity verification through your school will be required before you’re granted access. Most educational institutions prohibit their students from accessing test banks.
Students who attempt to do so will end up with academic integrity accusations that could lead to their dismissal from their institution.

Are Test Banks Worth It

No, most educational institutions have policies against their students using test banks. Students caught using test banks risk paper cancelation and dismissal.
Before accessing a test bank, it’s advisable to determine your school as well as your professor’s policies on using test banks.
Even in cases where your institution has no explicit regulations against using test banks, your professor may have rules against this. Breaching this is still grounds for dismissal.
College education is expensive, so it’s advisable to refrain from breaching any policies that could get you kicked out.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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