Faking Illness to Avoid Tests on Rise


Amanda Young, Business Editor

You sit through 7 hours of school before heading off to various extracurricular activities, including sports, work, volunteering, church groups, music lessons, and more. You get home, shower, eat dinner, and realize that it’s already 10 pm. You have a big test tomorrow that you know you aren’t ready for. Do you stay up all night and study?

The better question might be: why would you stay up and study, knowing that you can skip the class altogether and simply make up the test later?

The strategy of skipping class in order to avoid taking a test is not new, but it appears to be increasing in popularity among today’s students.

Math teacher Nick Schoen has noticed that absences increase on test day. Schoen estimated that, in his non-Honors and AP classes, up to 30% of the class may be absent, but noted that “it depends on the class.”

“The harder the class, the less people that skip it so maybe that just speaks to the type of student that is more motivated,” he said.

History teacher Paul Verbanszky agreed that students “do it regularly,” even at the AP level.

“They stop once I call them out on that but it’s frustrating because then we have to schedule make-ups and other things,” said Verbanszky. “It’s a rude annoyance.”

1 student admitted to skipping a test because of the stress of AP Exams. “We had our Euro AP test two days before and I hadn’t even thought of math the whole last two weeks,” the sophomore said. “My parents let me skip because I told them the only way I could get an A in the class is if I took it next week.”

The student added that the competitiveness of high school is a factor that may cause students to skip tests. “High school feels like it is so competitive, it has gotten to the point where you feel like you are competing with your friends, and I do not enjoy that at all,” the student said. This student confirmed that his parents called in to the attendance office and cleared his absence by stating that he was sick.

Verbanszky acknowledged that the stress students experience is 1 of the major factors in their decision to skip class. “It’s the anxiety over performing well, feeling unprepared because they have so many other things going on, lack of sleep, and just pure exhaustion,” he said.

While there seems to be a consensus about the cause, plenty of students find the regular practice of skipping class in order to avoid due dates and tests less than honorable. In fact, some see it as an intentional way to cheat.

“I’m fine with people skipping if they physically cannot do it, but it’s abusing your ability to skip class if you can [come],” said sophomore Isabella Bartos. “I think that it’s not great that people constantly skip tests just because they think that they’re not ready. They get additional time to study, which is already not fair, and then most of the time, they get answers from their friends, which is also not fair.”

Sophomore Daniel Zabronsky, who skipped school to avoid a recent math test in order to focus on his AP Euro exam, doesn’t see it that way, however. “It doesn’t really affect anyone else,” he said.

Though Assistant Principal Laura Lee was unable to comment on students specifically missing class to avoid taking a test, she acknowledged that absences are detrimental to the teacher, classroom, and student and that there “is a whole process we have to go through in the attendance office with regards to clearing those absences.”

The school also loses funding every time a student is absent.

Both Schoen and Verbanszky added that they are willing to work with students if they feel overwhelmed. “I am a flexible teacher and if a student would talk to me ahead of time, I would give them an opportunity to take a test another day if they weren’t quite prepared for it,” Verbanszky said.

Instead of skipping class altogether, Verbansky would “encourage students to talk to teachers if they are struggling.”

There is also evidence that suggests postponing a test does not actually help student performance.

“I think that they think it helps them but it usually does not. I know that there’s information out there about it but I usually have a different test for a make-up,” said Schoen. “Usually the time in between when we were working on it and when they actually take it is a detriment to how well they do on it. The longer they put it off, the worse that they’re going to do.”