Frequently Asked Questions


Who can use these tutorials and tests? Are they free?

Anyone is welcome to use the Indiana University Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests for free for non-profit educational purposes. See how to acknowledge these learning resources.

Our primary target audience is university students and advanced high school students. From 2016 through 2019, over 735,000 people from 222 countries worldwide registered to take Certification Tests.

About 76 percent of registrants report that they are between 18 and 30 years old. Younger people can also benefit if their reading skills are sufficient to understand the explanations and feedback in English. Approximately 10 percent of our registered users are between ages 14 and 17. Older people can benefit as well: 14 percent are over 30 years old.

The large majority of registrants do pass a Certification Test, though it often takes multiple attempts. They are 3 to 5 times more likely to pass their first test after engaging successfully with our instruction and practice tests.

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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 typing your e-mail address. This happens in 1 out of 17 attempts. What to do? Register again with your correct e-mail address.

Other possibilities:

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 pedagogy@iu.edu (IU Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests).

Your e-mail address is correct, but the confirmation message never made it to your e-mail account. Your school or university may have blocked the message because it appears to be spam. Try registering with an e-mail address that is NOT your school or university address, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.

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.

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.

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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?

Our initial advice is to learn from the tutorials and pass the practice tests. If you have already done that, see how to learn from your mistakes on the test.

Undergraduate and advanced high school students are 3 times more likely to pass a Certification Test on their first try, if they have successfully done most or all of the tutorials. Master's and doctoral students are 5 times more likely to pass, if they have completed the tutorials. Students who do not complete the tutorials and practice tests are between 90 and 95 percent likely to fail their first Certification Test. Furthermore, students who do complete the tutorials often need to take more than one test until they pass.

In addition to learning from the tutorials, 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 35 minutes each and take breaks in between.

We do not provide correct answers to Certification Test questions because doing so in the past allowed rote memorization and cheating. Prior to 2013, instructors sometimes complained that Certificates did not validly indicate that their students had learned to recognize plagiarism.

Consequently, we created new, very large test question pools and no longer provide correct answers. We designed new practice tests which do provide correct answers to questions missed, and we developed new, more effective instruction.

In the first 4 years after the changes, students viewed nearly 66 million pages of interactive instruction. Over 596,000 individuals had passed a Certification Test. The most frequently viewed pages have been tutorial practice test questions with explanatory feedback on incorrect answers; tests themselves; feedback on types of mistakes on a test; test hints; and tutorial instruction.

Instructors no longer complain about widespread cheating; and students are passing the more difficult tests. Our records indicate that about 7 out of every 8 students who register do pass a Certification Test during any given day, 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.

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What mistakes am I making on the test? What are the most common errors?

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.

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.

Some test questions are complex and require careful inspection 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, 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.

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.

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).

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.

Finally, when you rush through a test, you are likely to fail that test. We have years of data on millions of tests taken to document this fact. Students who do pass a graduate level test take 7-8 minutes on average, and those who pass an undergraduate level test take 5-6 minutes on average. Some take a lot longer.

Why don't we provide correct answers? The reason is simple. We do not have resources to continually add new questions. We have provided tutorials and tests on how to recognize plagiarism since 2002 at no charge for non-profit educational use. When we we did provide correct answers until fall, 2013, unscrupulous individuals provided answer keys via the Web to encourage cheating.

In order to make it harder to create answer keys for cheaters, we have stopped providing correct answers to questions missed on a test. Instructors are unhappy when students cheat, and, unfortunately, students become frustrated when we don't tell them correct answers to test questions. We already know this, but it is a necessary compromise.

Furthermore, 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 a pending deadline when you keeping failing tests. The alternative would be to provide correct answers. But that would also require us to continually create and validate good test items. To do this would mean you would pay for each test you take. We have chosen not to go that route.

We've not been paid for developing and maintaining these tutorials and tests. See contributors. Your school is not paying us, you are not paying us, we accept no paid advertising, nor do we sell your data to advertisers. See our privacy policy. We provide these tutorials and tests for free in good faith, as they are, with no guarantees or warranties implied. If you need extra help, we advise you to ask your teacher for assistance.

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. 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 half a million worldwide from 2016 through 2019. 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:

    1. Severed Cite
    2. Correct Quote
    3. Proper Paraphrase
    4. Crafty Cover-Up
    5. Devious Dupe
    6. Cunning Cover-Up
    7. Clueless Quote
    8. Placeless Paraphrase
    9. Dippy Dupe
    10. Delinked Dupe
    11. Deceptive Dupe
    12. Double Trouble
    13. Lost Locator
    14. Disguised Dupe
    15. Linkless Loser
    16. Triple D
    17. Shirking Cite
    18. Parroted Paraphrase

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.

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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.

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.

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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 patterns of plagiarism.

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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 retrieve your Certificate here.

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How do I save my Certificate? Convert it to PDF? Print it?

1. You need to first pass a Certification Test. If you are viewing your Certificate, skip to step 3 below.

2. Go to: Retrieve and Validate Certificates. Continue and login with the e-mail address and password you used when registering. Proceed until you are viewing your Certificate in your web browser. Note that you can e-mail your Certificate before you view it.

3. If using a Mac computer browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox), click on the File menu (near top left), and then select either Share or Print. If using 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. If using 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. If sharing, select the method, e.g., e-mail, messages, AirDrop, printer, etc.

5. 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.

6. 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.

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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.

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I get an error message when trying to watch the videos. How can I see the videos?

On rare occasions, some combinations of devices, operating systems, Web browsers (and possibly anti-malware software or firewalls) prevent playback of the videos. Try a different browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, IE, Edge, Opera), and/or a different device. Or, try clicking on the link for lower quality videos (under the original embedded video to the right). Check your browser settings to ensure that Flash and JavaScript are enabled.

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I passed the test, but I don't remember which e-mail I used at registration. How can I retrieve 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 retrieved by someone who can properly validate it (that is, you, or your instructor if you provide her or him with the right info).

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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. If you have passed, you can login and retrieve and validate your Certificate.

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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.

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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.

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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 December 16, 2018, 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.

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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.

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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 name correctly. Once you have confirmed your new registration, then take and pass a new test. Your new Certificate will include the new name and e-mail address you supplied.

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When I try to take a test or retrieve my Certificate, it says, "Invalid attempt to access..." or "Invalid referral from an unauthorized source..." What's wrong?

This message means that you are not accessing our website properly. Go to Take Certification Tests and click on the button for the appropriate age group. Login, and then you'll be provided with a new test each time.

If you have passed a test and want to access your Certificate, go to Retrieve and Validate Certificates.

If you have not registered to take a test, then go to Register for Certification Tests.

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