I need to know the difference between cheating and plagiarizing.

For example if I was a student doing a test and I copied my classmate would I say:

I was cheating on the test.


I was plagiarizing on the test.

Any additional information would be helpful!

  • Did you look up plagiarism in a dictionary before you asked this question here? If so, you should share what you found, and explain why you're still confused. If not, you should look it up first.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:00

3 Answers 3

  • Plagiarism
    means to use the thoughts and ideas of another person and passing them on as your own - sometimes with a slight change in words. Usually it is used for larger texts like literature or scientific writing, but you could also plagiarize music. What you need to do to when writing scientific texts is to quote other authors. If you don't and use their text passages, its plagiarism.
  • Cheating
    means to recieve the results in some unethical way.

Therefore, by simple logic, plagiarizing is a subset of cheating.

So for your question: unless you are both writing an essay and you are stealing your neighbors ideas (higly unlikely, unless your teacher is really daft), you can't plagiarize in a test. What you do when you have a quick glance at his results is called cheating.


Plagiarizing is passing off someone else's work as your own. Cheating is simply breaking the rules (for example, of an exam).

It's unlikely to say "he plagiarized on the test". It's possible and grammatical and the sentence is understandable. It's more likely to use "cheating" even if the type of cheating was to plagiarize another's work.

Plagiarize is more likely to come up regarding written works: books, essays, papers, articles, etc.


Plagiarizing is specifically copying off someone else.
You can cheat in other ways during a test.
For example: you can secretly use a calculator in a math test.

  • So what one should I use. I still don understand if i copied of someones test then I did "Plagiarizing is specifically copying off someone else." Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:42
  • Use plagiarizing if you want to talk about coping. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:43
  • but if im copying someones answers i did copy Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:43
  • Or just say "I copied my friend on a test". Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .