Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can use these tutorials and tests? Are they free? How can I use them?
- I can't register. Where's the e-mail for completing my registration?
- I can't pass the test. I've tried over and over and I keep failing. What can I do? Why don't you tell me the correct answers?
- I only missed one question. Why did I not pass the test? Is there something wrong with the test?
- My computer crashed right after I passed a test. I never received my Certificate. Will you send it to me?
- What mistakes am I making on the test?
- This is not what I was expecting. Why are you making this so hard for me?
- A lot of people are saying (on social media) that the undergraduate plagiarism test is harder than the graduate level test. Is that true?
- What kinds of questions are answered incorrectly most often on the Certification Test?
- I answered all the questions, but it says I did not answer enough questions correctly to pass. Why?
- Why must I answer at least 9 questions correctly in order to pass?
- I passed the test, but I never received my Certificate in my e-mail. Or I lost my Certificate. How can I get my Certificate?
- How do I save my Certificate? Convert it to PDF? Print it?
- I try to login with my e-mail address, but it won't accept my password. What can I do?
- I get an error message when trying to watch the videos. How can I see the videos?
- I passed the test, but I don't remember which e-mail I used at registration. How can I validate my Certificate?
- I know my Test ID or I have just logged in. How can I get my Certificate?
- I passed the test. Did I answer all 10 questions correctly?
- My instructor requires me to pass the "expert level" test. Where is it?
- I previously passed a Certification Test, but my instructor wants me to pass a new test. How can I do this?
- I originally registered for a Graduate Test. How can I take an Undergraduate Test (or vice-versa)?
- I passed a test, but my name or e-mail address is incorrect on my Certificate. What can I do?
- When I try to take a test or validate my Certificate, it says, "Invalid attempt to access..." or "Invalid referral from an unauthorized source..." What's wrong?
- I have a disability. I need to take the Certification Test in a different form or need more time than allowed. What can I do?
Who can use these tutorials and tests? Are they free? How can I use them?
You are welcome to use the Indiana University Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests for free for non-profit educational purposes.
We have designed this website primarily for university students and advanced high school students. You can navigate this website in different ways. You can choose as little or much as you need for learning how to recognize plagiarism.
If you want to earn a Certificate, then you must register first, and then pass a Certification Test. The tests are difficult to pass unless you can recognize plagiarism--especially when the plagiarism is subtle and well-disguised. Each of the trillions of tests is different with 10 questions selected randomly from large inventories. You are highly unlikely to pass a test by just guessing answers (chances are 1 in 19,683).
Approximately half of our website visitors do not register to take Certification Tests. However, the other half--more than 1,365,000 people--have successfully registered since 2016. And, of those, more than 1,094,000 students have passed a Certification Test. These students were located in 225 countries and territories worldwide--according to their device IP addresses.
Users typically fall into 1 of 3 groups, based on how they engage with our website: Traditionalists, Minimalists, and Dabblers.
Students who have failed one or more tests and who try any part of our online instruction and practice tests are 2 times more likely to pass a new Certification Test than to fail it. Their likelihood of passing is 68%.
Even better, students who engage with all levels of instruction and practice (Basic to Expert) are 4 times more likely to pass. Their likelihood of passing is 80%. These students engage with each level of instruction, take practice tests, and view examples of writing that is or is not plagiarized from original source materials--including explanations of why.
Some students who take Certification Tests mainly use hints and feedback after each test. They do not try any of the instruction, do not take practice tests that provide feedback on incorrect answers, and do not view examples of plagiarism patterns. Their likelihood of passing is 46%. They are slightly more likely to fail a Certification Test than to pass it.
For those who are unable to pass using this minimalist strategy, they may later return to this website, and then do some or all of the instruction and practice tests. If so, their likelihood of passing can improve to 80%, as described above for Traditionalists.
These users spend very little time on this website, averaging between 3 and 4 minutes of engagement with 8 to 9 web pages. We know little about these users, who seldom register to take Certification Tests.
These findings are based on temporal pattern analysis of big data on which parts of this website that students choose to use and whether or not they succeed.
Note that if you fail a Certification Test, you can try further instruction and take more tests until you do pass. For any given time interval when we count students who have passed a test, there are further students who have not yet passed but will pass at a later date. For example, Frick et al. (2022) found that nearly 6,000 students who had failed one or more tests during the study interval (January 1 through March 25, 2021) did pass a Certification Test later in 2021. For more, see this research.
Instructors who want to try Certification Tests themselves must also register, and when doing so, respond to the "Why" question: I intend to review this as a learning resource for students I teach. Students should select a different reason according to their own purpose.
Frick, T., Myers, R. & Dagli, C. (2022). Analysis of Patterns in Time for Evaluating First Principles of Instruction (Featured research). Educational Technology Research and Development, 70(1), 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-10077-6
I can't register. Where's the e-mail for completing my registration?
The most common reason you did not receive e-mail to activate your registration is that you made an error when entering your e-mail address. In the past 7 years, this has happened about 74,000 times out of 1,371,000 attempts to register (roughly 1 out of every 18 attempts). What to do? Register again by copying and pasting your correct e-mail address. Some Web browsers may auto-fill the wrong e-mail address, so make sure it's the right one.
Or your school's e-mail system may have blocked the e-mail. Your e-mail address is correct, but the confirmation message never made it to your school e-mail account. Instead, it bounced back to us as undeliverable, and we have no way to tell you because that is also blocked. Your school or university may have blocked these messages because they are coming from a sender from the outside, not at your school (or not from an approved domain). Try registering with an e-mail address that is not your school or university address, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, iCloud, etc.
Your e-mail address is correct, but the confirmation message is not in your Inbox. Rather it ends up in your Spam or Junk folder because the e-mail comes from an automated source. Look in your Spam and Junk folders for a message from email@example.com (IU Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests).
Your e-mail address is correct, but your service provider's e-mail system is slow to respond, or your e-mail app does not check for new mail frequently. Try refreshing your Inbox. Wait a few minutes and try refreshing your Inbox again. Try getting new mail in your e-mail app.
It's also possible that certain browser security settings, anti-malware software installed on your device, and/or e-mail filter settings may be interfering with or blocking the e-mail we have sent which contains the unique link to activate your registration. Try a different e-mail app, web browser, device, or location.
You can only register your e-mail address one time. If you discover that you can't register because your e-mail address is already registered or your password does not work, then
- Click here for undergraduates and advanced high school students.
- Click here for master's and doctoral students.
I can't pass the test. I've tried over and over and I keep failing. What can I do? Why don't you tell me the correct answers?
We understand that you can get frustrated, especially when you fail repeatedly and don't seem to be making any progress. We get that. Read on.
These are not tests of recall. They are not tests of rote memorization of facts. Nor are they tests of carrying out rote procedures. Remembering the right answer to one question won't help that much because you are unlikely to get that exact same question again on subsequent tests.
Certification Tests require judgment, which in turn requires reading comprehension and critical thinking. They require applying concepts and principles. They require paying careful attention to details.
They are not easy tests either. What makes test questions further challenging is that the student version can contain word-for-word and paraphrasing plagiarism and parts that are not plagiarized; or any 2 of the 3; or any 1 of the 3. See the decision support tool.
Strategies for taking tests that may have worked for you in the past may not work here. You may need to try a different strategy. Most people eventually do pass, if they persevere in trying to learn.
Learn more and experience success.
Our initial advice is to learn from the instruction and try to answer the practice questions. You will get specific feedback on incorrect answers with explanations of why those answers were wrong. If you have already done that, see how to get further help while taking a Certification Test.
Students who have passed a test spend, on average, more than 4 times as much time learning from the instruction, when compared with students who have not passed. Failing students who have done some of each level of the instruction (Basic through Expert) are 4 times more likely to pass a new test. We know this from tracking pageviews by hundreds of thousands of students who use this website.
We also know that students who do complete any of the tutorials usually take several tests before they pass--if they also learn from the types of mistakes they make when they do not pass. It is rare that someone passes on their first attempt, unless they have successfully completed the instruction.
Take a break.
In addition to learning from the instruction, we advise you to take a significant break and get some rest before attempting further tests. Fatigue and lack of attention to detail can be obstacles to passing a test, even when you can recognize kinds of plagiarism and non-plagiarism. It is virtually impossible to pass a test just by guessing, or if not reading carefully each question. Successful students typically divide their learning time into 3 separate sessions of 25-30 minutes each and take breaks in between.
Take your time and read carefully each question on the test.
People who rush through a Certification Test in a minute or two while guessing answers will fail it. Even we cannot pass our own tests this way! This strategy is both ineffective and inefficient. Racing through tests and guessing answers just doesn't work. Even after a student has tried 20 to 30 tests like this, they still do not pass. In fact, the chance of passing a test by guessing answers is about 1 in 20,000 attempts.
On the other hand, when students spend 8 to 10 minutes (or more) on each test, and take the time to read each question carefully, they are much more likely to pass--when they also understand plagiarism and when they pay careful attention to details. These students typically spend no more than 2 to 3 hours in total, including time spent carefully going through the instruction and practice tests, and then taking Certification Tests until they pass one.
Students who already understand plagiarism thoroughly spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes altogether. They still take enough time to read each question carefully. They typically pass after several attempts if they learn from their mistakes.
Why no correct answers?
We no longer provide correct answers to Certification Test questions because unscrupulous individuals had been posting answer keys on the Web to facilitate cheating. Instructors had complained that Certificates did not validly indicate that their students had learned to recognize plagiarism.
And it's not fair to other students who actually have accomplished something. Why should cheaters get the same credit?
Using a computer to copy, paste, and search for a match to a test question and its correct answer does not indicate a thorough understanding of plagiarism and critical judgment. It just indicates ability to use a computer for searching. FYI, we actually know what people often search for. Google Search Console reports on our website have been very helpful.
Consequently, from 2013 through 2018 we created new, very large test question pools and no longer provide correct answers. We designed new practice questions and mastery tests which do provide explanatory feedback on questions missed, and we developed new, more effective instruction. Graduate students in Instructional Systems Technology at IU helped draft most of the questions for Certification Tests. They did not want cheaters to get undeserved credit either. They also knew about many of the tricks students use to try to disguise plagiarism, yet another form of cheating.
Our goal is to make it easier to actually learn about plagiarism and pass a test, when compared to the effort and time it takes to cheat via use of answer keys.
And how well is that working?
In the first 7 years after the changes, more than 1,094,000 individuals had passed a Certification Test. The most frequently viewed pages have been instruction with practice questions and explanatory feedback on incorrect answers; Certification Tests and feedback on types of mistakes made on a test; test hints; FAQs (this page), registration, and Certificate Validation.
Instructors no longer complain about widespread cheating; and students are passing the more difficult tests. Our records indicate that about 81 percent of students who register do pass a Certification Test, often requiring multiple attempts before they do. Rarely do adult students never pass, if they complete the tutorials and practice tests, and if they pay careful attention to the right details and persist. A small minority may take several days until they do pass. We encourage students who continue to struggle to seek extra help from their instructor or a knowledgeable peer.
Most of all, we want people to avoid plagiarizing when they write and speak. That's the bigger goal. We ultimately want students to think critically about the sources of information they cite and to question false beliefs and other nonsense perpetuated by dishonest, biased, misinformed, or ignorant people. This includes text generated by AI or bots that have been trained on linguistic patterns inherent in this kind of junk. In other words, to identify the good stuff and discard the linguistic junk and other textual garbage.
A lot of people are saying (on social media) that the undergraduate plagiarism test is harder than the graduate level test. Is that true?
It may be true that some people believe this, possibly getting many likes or followers on social media, but that belief is false. Just because lots of people may hold the same opinion does not mean it is true. For thousands of years people used to believe the earth was flat like a pancake, when in fact it is a large sphere. Their belief was based on the method of tenacity, and later the method of authority, not the method of science (Peirce, 1877, 1934).
Based on millions of plagiarism tests taken over the past 7 years, the empirical facts are:
- People take about 2 minutes longer on average to complete each graduate level test, when compared with the undergraduate level test.
- Items on the graduate level test are more difficult on average, meaning that these questions are answered incorrectly more often than those on the undergraduate test.
- The likelihood of failing a graduate level test is greater than the likelihood of failing an undergraduate test. Students try an average of 3 more graduate level tests until they pass one, when compared with those at the undergraduate level.
Based on this empirical evidence, we conclude that the graduate level tests are harder than the undergraduate ones.
How did we collect this evidence? Our plagiarism test software stores logs of individual test results on IU computers. Those logs contain information about the: test ID; number of right and wrong answers for that registrant ID on that specific test; what kind of test it was (undergrad or grad level); how long that test took; when it was taken; each question ID and whether it was answered correctly or not; and whether or not that specific registrant passed that particular test. For example, see Frick and Dagli (2016, p. 268). We later used computers to do statistical analysis of those empirical data (e.g., with SPSS or Excel). We computed arithmetic means (averages) from which we now make the above claims.
People who believe that the undergraduate test is harder than the graduate level test hold a wrong opinion. Their opinion is not based on fact. That false belief is contradicted by empirical fact--i.e., a large amount of statistical evidence in this case. How large? Literally millions of unique tests taken over several years.
See also: How we protect your data: Logs.
Frick, T. & Dagli, C. (2016). MOOCs for Research: The Case of the Indiana University Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(2), 255-276. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-016-9288-6.
Peirce, C. S. (1877). The fixation of belief. Popular Science Monthly, 12(November), 1-15.
Peirce, C. S. (1934). Collected papers, Vol. V, Pragmatism and pragmaticism (C. Hartshorne & P. Weiss, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
I only missed one question. Why did I not pass the test? Is there something wrong with the test?
Just because there is one link to the type of question missed does not mean you missed one question. The number of links listed in test results does not necessarily equal the number of incorrect answers. For example, you could miss two or more questions on that test which are the same type of plagiarism or non-plagiarism (for example, severed cite). In that case, there would be just one link that points to that type of pattern on the results and feedback page displayed right after the test.
You will know when you pass a test, because on the results page it will say,
Congratulations! You passed a Certification Test by answering at least 9 questions correctly.
There will be no links to types of questions missed. And it will list your name and the e-mail address where your Certificate will be sent when you click the button to do so.
My computer crashed right after I passed the test. I never received my Certificate. Will you send it to me?
If you did pass, then you can retrieve and view your Certificate yourself. We do not send Certificates. The way to get your Certificate is to pass a Certification Test.
What is critical is exactly when your computer, smartphone, or tablet malfunctioned (or it lost power or lost your Internet connection). Our Certification Tests are based on software that runs on IU Web servers, not on your computer. If you have answered all 10 questions in your Web browser, and you have clicked or tapped on the button to send your answers for test evaluation, our IU Web servers do the processing required to determine whether or not you passed. Not your device. If indeed you did pass, then the results were stored at IU, associated with your registration info.
If you passed, then you should be able to validate, retrieve, e-mail, and view your Certificate (for up to 2 years or so). Even if you no longer use the same e-mail account, you should still be able to login with the e-mail and password you used when registering, and then you can send your unique Certificate to your new e-mail address (or to anyone else, such as your instructor).
As long as IU Web servers have received the test answers you submitted, and if you passed the test, those results should have been saved. If there were problems with IU servers, then thousands of people would likely have been affected--not just you. See University Information Technology Services status updates.
What mistakes am I making on the test?
Missing what's missing
Questions on Certification Tests illustrate 15 different patterns of plagiarism and 3 patterns of non-plagiarism. When the student version is plagiarism, it's because of what is missing. You can answer a test question incorrectly due to oversight of something missing in the student version. It can be hard to notice what's absent when you are focused on what's present. This can be frustrating. For additional help, see the decision table and decision support for determining answers to test questions.
Misunderstanding the number and types of mistakes you've made
If you do not pass a test, links are provided to the specific types of questions you answered incorrectly. Click on those links to see examples of the kinds of errors you made. If you miss two or more questions which are the same type, there is only one link that points to that type of pattern. Therefore, do not infer that the number of links is the number of questions missed on the test.
In addition, do not infer that a question that occurs on one test is exactly the same as one on a new test, even though they may look the same. Subtle modifications will determine a different correct answer, such as presence or absence of quotation marks or parts of citations.
Overlooking subtle or sneaky plagiarism
Read carefully when comparing the student version with the original source. For example, in double-trouble, the text highlighted in purple is paraphrasing plagiarism, while the part highlighted in yellow is word-for-word plagiarism. The correct answer on the test would be word-for-word plagiarism.
On the other hand, if paraphrased text lacks a proper citation or reference (or both), and there is no word-for-word plagiarism, this is a severed cite. This pattern of paraphrasing plagiarism is most often missed on a test, especially when other parts of the student version are properly cited and referenced.
Not noticing misplaced citations
Careful writers tell readers early on when another author's idea is being described and make it clear that it is the other author's idea being discussed in that whole group of sentences. When there is a switch to someone else's idea, including the writer's own idea, then careful writers tell the reader explicitly.
When a citation is provided at the end of a group of sentences or at the end of a paragraph, readers could infer that the citation applies only to the last sentence. Earlier sentences which lack attribution of the source might appear to be the writer's own ideas, when instead they are paraphrasing plagiarism (severed cite).
Does every sentence paraphrased from the original source require a citation?
No, but the writer should make it clear that the citation applies to the whole group of sentences. In addition to proper citation, careful writers provide further cues to their readers which clearly identify whose ideas are whose, in order to avoid plagiarism.
Therefore, on the test, you not only need to look for direct quotes, paraphrasing, appropriate citations, and references, but also to look for any additional writer cues that further clarify whose ideas they are. This cannot be done mindlessly. You need to read carefully and comprehend what the writer is trying to say in order to make judgments, particularly when there is ambiguity about attribution of ideas.
You can learn more about these subtleties from instruction at the Expert Level.
This is not what I was expecting. Why are you making this so hard for me?
You may have been expecting to pass a test by answering questions, seeing which ones you missed, going back and changing the answers to correct them, and then immediately passing the test. You may have been expecting this task to be easy and to take very little time. Instead, it has been more difficult and time-consuming than you had anticipated. Or, you thought that you already understood plagiarism very well, but you're failing test after test.
How can I learn if you don't tell me the correct answers?
We used to do this, but cheating became a big problem in 2012 and 2013. In order to make it harder to create answer keys for cheaters, we have stopped providing correct answers to questions missed on a test. We do not have resources to continually add new questions to the Certification Tests, nor do we want to start charging students for every test they take.
Instead, we have developed more instruction with practice questions and feedback--the kind of feedback you were expecting on the Certification Test. And we have provided additional support for your learning that can also help you pass a Certification Test, including step-by-step guidance to determine correct answers on tests.
You should also understand that memorizing the right answer to a test question won't help very much because you are unlikely to get that exact same question again on subsequent tests. To help you learn from your mistakes, Certification Test results include links to the specific patterns of plagiarism and non-plagiarism that you misclassified on that test. Each pattern, in turn, provides a link to the specific decision rules that were used to arrive at the correct answer for that type of mistake (e.g., failing to identify a Crafty Cover-up as word-for-word plagiarism).
When you take a new test with different questions, you should be better able to recognize that plagiarism pattern and correctly identify its type. If so, feedback on a new test should no longer list that same type of misclassified pattern (e.g., Crafty Cover-up).
Since each test consists of 10 randomly selected questions, not all 18 patterns can be included on a single test. So it's possible on a new test that you could make a new and different type of error (e.g., Severed Cite). Thus, you might fail several Certification Tests before you have corrected all your misconceptions. Most students take multiple Certification Tests before they pass one.
If you fail one or more tests, and also engage in our instruction and practice tests, you are 4 times more likely to pass a new test than to fail it. This conclusion is based on empirical research on 75,087 active users where this pattern was observed.
This is taking way too much time. I have to get this done now.
If your instructor requires you to pass a Certification Test for credit towards a grade, we understand that you can get very frustrated and stressed due to an approaching deadline when you keep failing tests.
We are not making this requirement; and we have no control over how your teacher may be using our learning resources and tests.
In fact, when we originally developed this instruction and test for our own students in Instructional Systems Technology, we told them during new student orientation:
We do not tolerate plagiarism; and we will not accept ignorance as an excuse. Do the instruction and test on your own time. Meet with your advisor if you need extra help. Hand in your signed Certificate to the department office, so we have it on file.
The test is too hard. Why don't you make it easier?
Certification Tests are mastery tests, also referred to as criterion-referenced tests. Test questions are designed to discriminate between achievers and non-achievers. That means someone with a thorough understanding of plagiarism, according to the criteria used here, should be much more likely to answer a question correctly than someone who has an incomplete understanding or lack of understanding of plagiarism. Note that at one time you can be a non-achiever, but at a later time you can become an achiever. In other words, you have learned to do something that you were unable to do before.
Certification Test questions that do not discriminate well between achievers and non-achievers have been eliminated. We have discarded questions that almost everyone gets right or nearly everyone gets wrong, because they are unhelpful in making mastery or non-mastery classifications (pass or not pass). We also have removed poorly discriminating items in which the likelihood of a correct response is not very different between achievers and non-achievers. Finally, we have eliminated questions which non-achievers are more likely to answer correctly than achievers (i.e., negatively discriminating items).
Most importantly, we want to minimize classification errors, either misclassifying someone as an achiever who is really a non-achiever, or misclassifying someone as a non-achiever who is really an achiever. Keep in mind that the likelihood of someone answering a question correctly, solely by guessing, is 1 out of 3. We don't want people passing Certification Tests who are guessing the answers and have little or no understanding of plagiarism.
This is a technical subject in psychometrics, what is now called computerized classification testing (CCT). Instead of administering items one-by-one as done for a variable-length CCT, we randomly select 10 items at a time for each Certification Test. This kind of criterion-referenced test may be a new experience for you.
I need extra help. Why won't you help me personally?
If you need extra help, we advise you to ask your teacher for assistance. We do not have staff or resources for individual tutoring. We developed these materials for our own students originally. Other instructors heard about these resources, found them useful, and adopted them for use by their own students. We never intended for so many people to use them, never imagining that hundreds of thousands of students worldwide would be also using them. But that's what happened.
When we started, we knew that this was possible, but we didn't know what would work best. We have listened to what users have been telling us would help, we have conducted usability tests, and then we've tried to implement practical strategies that actually make a difference in terms of successful student learning outcomes. As a result of this feedback loop between developers and users, we have made many changes in the past 21 years.
What do we get? We collect data on student learning from the tutorials in order to improve methods of education in general, and to improve this online instruction in particular. Our research should benefit everyone in the long run. For example, see this article and book. We further hope that our website visitors will appreciate Indiana University as an institution for promoting learning, research, and service.
What do you get? We hope that you learn about plagiarism and avoid it in your writing and speaking.
Most adults do pass a Certification Test--over 1,094,000 worldwide from 2016 through June 1, 2023. They have learned to notice what is missing but should be present in order to avoid plagiarism.
What kinds of questions are answered incorrectly most often on Certification Tests?
A Severed Cite is the most common pattern that test takers fail to identify as paraphrasing plagiarism. They missed it because they either answered as word-for-word plagiarism or not plagiarism. The fourth-ranked error is failing to identify correctly a Crafty Cover-Up. This kind of question does contain a Proper Paraphrase, but it also contains word-for-word plagiarism, which is the correct answer.
Certification question types that are answered incorrectly are listed below from highest to lowest frequency--according to the pattern the question represents:
After you finish a 10-item test, if you do not pass, links are provided to specific patterns you failed to identify correctly on that test. Click on those links to see each pattern. For example, if you missed a Crafty Cover Up, then you'll see an example of what that looks like. It won't be the exact test item, but you should get the idea. You can also click on a link to the decision rule used to arrive at the correct answer for that pattern.
I answered all the questions, but it says I did not answer enough questions correctly to pass. Why?
You answered at least 2 questions incorrectly. This means that you probably misunderstand one or more important details about plagiarism as defined here, or you failed to notice essential details in questions you answered incorrectly--including crucial elements which may be absent in the student version. Read each question carefully, and do not hurry. Some questions may look similar to others, but actually differ in small but significant details from one test to the next. Note especially, if the student version contains both word-for-word and paraphrasing plagiarism, the correct answer is word-for-word.
The number of links listed in test results does not necessarily equal the number of incorrect answers. For example, you could miss two or more questions which are the same type of plagiarism or non-plagiarism. In that case, there would be just one link that points to that type of pattern (e.g., severed cite).
You must answer 9 or more questions correctly in order to pass a Certification Test. Before you take more Certification Tests, try our tutorials and complete the 5 levels of practice tests by answering all questions correctly (especially the Advanced and Expert Levels). If you do, you will be much more likely to pass.
Why must I answer at least 9 questions correctly in order to pass?
Our research has shown that when 10 questions are selected at random from our item inventories, someone who answers at least 9 questions correctly is highly likely to pass other tests of 10 questions selected at random. Someone who answers less than 9 questions out of 10 is very likely not able to recognize different forms of plagiarism from non-plagiarism. Usually this means they are not noticing something important. That is why feedback after a failed test provides links to the kinds of mistakes being made. See the 18 different patterns of plagiarism.
I passed the test, but I never received my Certificate in my e-mail. Or I lost my Certificate. How can I get my Certificate?
You can validate and view your Certificate here (and e-mail it).
How do I save my Certificate? Convert it to PDF? Print it?
1. First pass a Certification Test.
2. Go to: Validate and View Certificates. Continue and login with the e-mail address and password you used when registering. Proceed until you view your Certificate in your web browser. Note that we do not provide a PDF version of your Certificate, but you can create it yourself by following these steps.
3. Select share or print:
3.1. On a Mac computer browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox), click on the File menu (near top left), and then select either Share or Print.
3.2. On a Windows computer browser (Edge, IE, Chrome, Firefox), click on the settings or menu icon (3 dots, 3 bars, or gear near top right), and then select Print.
3.3. On a smartphone or tablet, click on the Share icon (e.g., a rectangle with an arrow, typically on the top or bottom of the display) .
4. Where to share or print?
4.1. If sharing, select the method, e.g., e-mail, messages, AirDrop, printer, etc.
4.2. If printing, select the destination: a specific printer that is available, or save as PDF on your device. There may also be an option in Step 3 to directly Export/Save as PDF.
4.3. If you have saved your Certificate as a PDF, you can then upload it to your course management system (e.g., Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, a dropbox); upload to Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive; attach it to an e-mail; or print it.
5. If your actual signature is needed:
5.1. Print your Certificate on paper.
5.2. Sign the printed Certificate with a black or blue pen.
5.3. Scan your signed Certificate to a PDF or JPEG file, or take a picture of it with your smartphone. Then go to Step 4.3 above.
5.4. If you do not have access to a printer and scanner, you can edit the PDF (from Step 4.2) with a software app and add your signature, such as Adobe Reader: https://helpx.adobe.com/reader/using/sign-pdfs.html. Then go to Step 4.3.
I try to login with my e-mail address, but it won't accept my password. What can I do?
If you originally registered for the Undergraduate Test, click here.
If you originally registered for the Graduate Test, click here.
I get an error message when trying to watch the videos. How can I see the videos?
I passed the test, but I don't remember which e-mail I used at registration. How can I validate my Certificate?
Search your e-mail accounts for "certificate" or "plagiarism" or "Test ID". If you can find the Certificate that was mailed to you, then login with that e-mail address. Or, you can validate it by using the unique Test ID and one other piece of information from the Certificate (and so can your instructor).
Otherwise, login (first register if necessary) and take another test and pass it again.
We do not have resources to retrieve your lost Certificate, and we routinely ignore such requests. We will not directly e-mail your Certificate; it can only be done by someone who can properly validate it (that is, you, or your instructor if you provide them with the right info).
I know my Test ID or I have just logged in. How can I get my Certificate?
If you have not passed a Certification Test, knowing the Test ID will not help. Nor will logging in without passing a test. You need to login and pass a Certification Test to earn a Certificate.
You will know when you pass a test, because on the results page it will say,
Congratulations! You passed a Certification Test by answering at least 9 questions correctly.
There will be no links to types of questions missed. And it will list your name and the e-mail address where your Certificate will be sent when you click the button to do so.
If you have passed, you can login and validate your Certificate.
I passed the test. Did I answer all 10 questions correctly?
To pass a current Certification Test, you must answer at least 9 out of 10 questions correctly. The Certificate no longer indicates the number correct. As stated above, we no longer provide correct answers, because in the past this led to rote memorization and cheating via answer keys.
Some instructors may still require that their students answer all questions correctly. This expectation is no longer reasonable under the current testing situation. You can provide your instructor with the link to this FAQ page: https://plagiarism.iu.edu/faq.html.
My instructor requires me to pass the "expert level" test. Where is it?
We do not offer an "expert level" test. Both types of our Certification Tests provide a mix of questions at the "novice level" through "expert level". We provide an easier test for undergraduate college and advanced high school students and a harder test for graduate students (master's and doctoral level). The test questions for graduate students are typically more difficult--meaning they are answered correctly less often when compared with questions for undergrads and advanced high school students. Plagiarism is more subtle and sneaky, and harder to detect in most questions for graduate students.
I previously passed a Certification Test, but my instructor wants me to pass a new test. How can I do this?
Go to 'Take Certification Tests'. Then click on either the button for Undergraduate and Advanced High School Students or the button for Master's and Doctoral Students. You should already be registered. Just login by entering the e-mail address used previously and the password you created. If you registered before March 16, 2023, you will need to reset your password (click on the "Stuck? ..." link on the login page).
After you login and pass a new test, you will be able to obtain a new, current Certificate, which can be further validated by your instructor.
I originally registered for a Graduate Test. How can I take an Undergraduate Test (or vice-versa)?
Go to 'Take Certification Tests'. Then click on the button for the kind of test you want to take. Login with the e-mail address you previously registered and the password you created. If you cannot login, click on the "Stuck? ..." link for options.
Your Certificate will indicate which kind of test you passed, which can be further validated by your instructor by entering the unique Test ID (you can do this too). Each time you pass a test, it will have a unique Test ID and its associated Certificate. If you validate your Certificate by logging in with your e-mail address and password, the most recent Certificate will be retrieved.
In summary, once you have registered, you can take either kind of Certification Test by clicking on the appropriate button. If you pass, your Certificate will indicate which test you took.
I passed a test, but my name or e-mail address is incorrect on my Certificate. What can I do?
As a matter of policy, we will not change the name or e-mail address that you typed when you registered to take a test. What to do? Register again with a different e-mail address, and be sure to spell your first and last names correctly. Some browsers may auto-fill the names differently than you intend, so make sure the names are correct. Once you have confirmed your new registration, then take and pass a new test. Your new Certificate will include the new names and e-mail address you supplied.
When I try to take a test or validate my Certificate, it says, "Invalid attempt to access..." or "Invalid referral from an unauthorized source..." What's wrong?
This message means that your web browser is not accessing our website properly.
- In your web browser, go directly to the homepage at https://plagiarism.iu.edu. Do not rely on a link provided elsewhere (e.g., in web search results, in an e-mail message), which may be incorrect or could take you to a different web page not at Indiana University.
- Reload or refresh the homepage in your browser, in case it has an older or out-dated cached version.
- In the gray sidebar to the right, click on Take Certification Tests and then click on the button near the bottom for the appropriate group.
- Login, and then you'll be provided with a new test each time.
If the "Invalid referral..." message continues to appear, then try a different web browser or device. On rare occasions web browser security settings, plug-ins, and/or anti-malware software installed on your device may possibly be interfering with proper access to Certification Tests at IU.
If you have passed a test and want to access your Certificate, in Step 3 above, click on Validate and View Certificates.
If you have not registered to take a test, in Step 3 above, click on Register for Certification Tests.
I have a disability. I need to take the Certification Test in a different form or need more time than allowed. What can I do?
If you are at a college or university, we recommend that you contact the office that provides services for persons with disabilities. Our advice is to work with them. Otherwise, talk to one of your teachers. In either case, you can register for a Certification Test, login, and display the test on your device. Then print the test and complete it as you would any paper-and-pencil test. Ask your disability office or teacher to grade the test. We do not have funding or staff to grade individual tests by hand.
If you are visually impaired or blind, we know that Certification Tests are extremely challenging when using a screen reader such as JAWS. For most of the test questions, to compare student writing with original source material is very onerous and time consuming when relying on audio only. While you can benefit from the instruction and examples provided here, we encourage you to work with your teachers and focus on your own writing. The larger goal is to avoid plagiarism in your own writing and speaking. Using an app such as Turnitin in a constructive way may help improve your own writing and to avoid plagiarism. That's the main goal: acknowledge other people's ideas and give credit where credit is due.
Likelihood of passing a Certification Test solely by guessing
Each test consists of 10 questions selected randomly from a large pool of questions, with over a trillion unique tests. Each test a student takes is different. In the pool, there is roughly the same proportion of questions in which each of the 3 choices is the correct answer. The likelihood of guessing the correct answer is 1/3 for each question.
For 10 questions, the likelihood of answering all of them correctly solely by guessing is (1/3)10 = 1/59,049 = 0.00001694. Technically, only 9 questions need to be answered correctly on any given test in order to pass, so the likelihood is (1/3)9, or 1/19,683 = 0.00005081. While these odds are slightly better, the likelihood of passing one of our Certification Tests solely by guessing is practically zero. See Schmitt (1969) for mathematical details.
To put this in perspective, imagine that you went to Las Vegas to gamble, and you had a $1 token to put into a slot machine. Slot machine A gives you a chance of winning the big jackpot at about 1 in 20,000. Expect to spend about $20,000 on machine A before you might win the big jackpot. Slot machine B gives you an 80% chance of winning the big jackpot (4 out of 5).
Which slot machine would you choose for betting your $1?
(As an aside, you won't find slot machines of type B, and if you did, those casinos would quickly go broke. There's a reason slot machines have been called "one-armed bandits". The odds are greatly in favor of a casino keeping people's money collected by slot machines.)
We once observed someone who had tried and failed more than 200 Certification Tests over several days by guessing answers. We discovered this pattern in our test logs after we received a complaint from this person. We recommended that they try the instruction and practice questions with feedback, and after they did, they passed soon afterwards. We ourselves have never passed a Certification Test solely by guessing.
If guessing is a hopeless strategy, what does make a difference?
Use test hints and decision rules
The likelihood of passing a test can be greatly improved by intelligently using a strategy which applies our decision rules and criteria for identifying types of plagiarism. For some students, this is enough guidance. The likelihood of passing a Certification Test with this strategy alone, and with no further instruction, is about 46%. While the likelihood of failing is about 54%, it is far less than the likelihood of failing by guessing answers to test questions, which is about 99.995%.
Learn from instruction
Even better, try learning from instruction and practice tests after failing a Certification Test. For those who have done so, we recently verified that the likelihood of passing a Certification Test was about 68% if any parts of the instruction are tried. If you do at least some of each part of the instruction and practice, your chances of passing a Certification Test rise to 80%. In other words, when you use this latter strategy, you are 4 times more likely to pass than to fail (80%/20%).
Learn from test feedback on types of mistakes
Finally, when students fail a Certification Test, those who click on links to the types of questions they missed further improve their odds of passing by a factor of 2.5 to 1 (Frick et al., 2022). Learning from your mistakes by understanding similar patterns of plagiarism more than doubles your likelihood of success. Pay attention to the explanations of why the pattern is or is not plagiarism; and if it is, why you should choose word-for-word versus paraphrasing plagiarism.
Computerized classification tests: Technical details
For a more technical discussion, see computerized classification tests in Wikipedia (n.d.) and Frick (1992). We conducted an unpublished empirical study in 2013-14 comparing EXSPRT-R (which utilizes actual item difficulty levels when classifying masters and non-masters) with our rule of correctly answering at least 9 out of 10 randomly selected questions in order to pass a Certification Test. In practice, we found both approaches agreed in making the same classifications of mastery and non-mastery nearly 100% of the time for randomized, fixed-length, 10-item tests. Therefore, we have adopted the simple decision rule for passing Certification Tests by counting the number of correct answers, in effect weighting them equally--rather than computing posterior probabilities based on item difficulty levels and whether or not that student answered the randomly selected question correctly on that test.
Okay, this is probably too much information. Most likely you just want to pass a test and be done with it. But we also want you to know that we use empirical evidence based on hundreds of thousands of cases for drawing these conclusions. We believe that disciplined inquiry matters.
Computerized classification test (n.d.). Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computerized_classification_test.
Frick, T. W. (1992). Computerized adaptive mastery tests as expert systems. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 8(2), 187-213.
Frick, T. W., Myers, R. D. & Dagli, C. (2022). Analysis of patterns in time for evaluating effectiveness of first principles of instruction. Education Tech Research Dev 70, 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-10077-6
Schmitt, S. (1969). Measuring uncertainty: An elementary introduction to Bayesian statistics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.