A small piece of paper, usually printed on with a very tiny font, used to store useless information required to pass a pointless exam. Not needed for useful exams, since you usually already know all the answers to those.

One great way of making a cheat sheet is to sharpen the point of a mechanical pencil (by scribbling sideways with it beforehand) and writing very lightly. You can usually cram lots of information on a small piece of paper this way. In some cases, you may put so much time into making a cheat sheet that by the time you are done, you've managed to memorize everything and won't need it at the exam!

In the phenomenon of Engineering education, a single 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper permitted into an examination. It is not cheating, per se.

I don't share the resentment Zorin has for information he no longer actively uses. My perception is very different: Properly done, a cheat sheet is a work of art, describing the maximum-ever state of your knowledge of a topic. Indeed, the act of producing a cheat sheet involves distilling one's knowledge into as concentrated a form as possible, after which the cheat sheet is not strictly necessary. I spent many hours on my cheat sheets and kept every one. Some would prove useful in later life, while most could be safely forgotten.

Memory Lane: Henry's Law, as described on my CIVL 480 "Subsurface Contamination by Hazardous Industrial Liquids" course cheat sheet:

Pi = H * Ci

According to a reports from the Campaign for Honesty in Education and a particular report in June 1994, cheating is an almost natural occurence in Polish educational institutions. In a book by Jan Karski written in 1944, Story of a Secret State, the author refers to the Polish "custom of cheating."

In the June 1994 report, a girl recounted how her classmates would wear sciegawka (cheat sheets) under their stockings. In order to see the cheat sheets, the students would cross their legs and lift their skirts to peek at the answers. Male test-takers favorably watching these girls lift their skirts would not report such cheating practices.

During one oral exam in Poland, a student carried information on cards which he cupped into his palm. He was caught and reprimanded by one examiner and admonished by the other simply because the student had the audacity to cheat on an oral examination whereas other students would only cheat on written exams.

Perhaps a reason for such a cheating phenomenon in Polish educational institutions is the fact that the average Polish student has to study 10 different subjects all at once. The educational system values memorization over critical thinking and personal creativity.

As mattbw pointed out in a previous writeup, the "cheat sheet" is often an item of masterwork for science and engineering students. Institutions which take particular pride in their students often save these sheets (if the students themselves do not) and display them as class memorabilia. Such displays are ripe for historical anthropology, as they show the various attitudes, modes of thought, and artistic tendancies of the examinees immortalized within.

It is also common for these sheets to be used as effigies for disliked classes or the professors teaching them. After a particularly harsh term, angry students may burn or otherwise mutilate the sheets as a means of obtaining "closure".

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