Tattooed formula sheets - should there be a problem?

Had this thought after seeing various tattoos in the gym shower - while I’ve had tests where formula sheets were allowed, I’ve had others where they weren’t. It occurs to me that if I thought physics / chemistry / etc. formulas were interesting enough, I might have them imprinted indelibly upon my person. In such a case, would it be cheating to use them under test conditions? I’ll always have them with me, so memorizing them would seem superfluous. OTOH, at my job I always have access to all the formulas I want, so you could argue that was never the point. :confused:

Thinking about it, I always have access to a calculator, but I wouldn’t propose giving up teaching basic sums, and tests w/o calculators would seem to be a necessary way of ensuring that happens. :dubious:

The only discussion I could find online related to hiding actual answers in tattoos, which seems excessive but that’s just me.

If the test rules forbid cheat sheets, then I can’t imagine you could get around that (not openly, anyway) by turning your personal body parts into cheat sheets. You may be required to leave the tatooed body parts outside in the hallway while you take the test. You might want to rent a locker to store your tatooed body parts in during the test so they don’t get stolen or vandalized (unless the school provides such a locker).

Eh. If I were the school, I’d just mandate sticking an opaque plaster over it for the duration of the test. No fuss.

How would this be any different to writing the stuff on your arm in biro? It’s cheating. If you get caught then, quite rightly, you would get thrown out of the test and maybe off the course altogether.

Good physics teachers will always allow formula sheets to begin with.

That aside, though, you’d be stopped cold before you ever got to that point. Most school dress codes prohibit visible tattoos, so you’d have to cover it up before you ever got to that point.

I loved college physics and did very well. But my Physics 01 professor pulled a funny one. The class had a midterm and a final. Someone asked before the midterm about a formula sheet. He said he’d supply everything we needed.

When he passed out the midterm someone asked about formulas. He wrote on the blackboard in giant letters, “F = MA”. Every other formula we would need could easily be derived from there. He wasn’t being a dick, he was delighted that physics was so coherent. There were a couple people who walked out; I did well.

Cite? :confused:

If I were a physics professor, I would have no problem with it.

If you went through the effort to permanently tattoo a formula on your person, then I would tend to believe you already KNOW that formula. You would see it every day, how could you NOT know it?

Whether you can get away with that depends on the nature of the class. I used to TA both math students and engineering students on pretty much the same material, but they way they were expected to learn it was very different. For example, to solve a first order linear ordinary differential equation, the math students would posit an integrating factor that simplifies the calculation and itself could be solved for as a separable DE, they they would be expected to replicate that process on a test. The engineers would just have formula (derived from the same technique) and apply it. Needless to say the mathies were more of the “F=MA and derive everything from there” kind of class, and the engineers were more of the “tattoo equations on myself” class.

Depends… if it was on your forearms you could read it directly ( provided it was written with the top of the letters towards the hands, or sideways with the top of the letters towards the outside of the arm ), or with more limited exposure on the front of the thighs with the top of the letters towards the knee.

Anywhere else on the front the writing would have to be in reverse in order to read it in a mirror; anywhere on the back of the body could be written regularly, but would need a double system of mirrors for one to read it.

Unless one persuaded a friend to stand behind one and intone the formula as required, which would be rather blatant — plus no-one has those sorts of friends.

Since this is basically an ethics question, let’s move it to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

But that’s my point - why would it be considered cheating? If I count on my fingers, is that considered cheating? I don’t think so… IMHO because (most) people will always be able to count on their fingers regardless of circumstances, so preventing it makes no sense. If a purpose of tests is to ensure you know a formula, then my inked example “knows” it absolutely, forever.

Hey now! :mad: I might consider it a philosophical question, but I fail to see how it’s an ethical one.

:confused: Your OP asks the question whether the practice of tattooing formulas on your body would be cheating in a test situation. Cheating is an ethical dilemma. Sure sounds like an ethical question to me.

Can I sit behind you for the algebra test?

“I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.” -Woody Allen

True story: The very first physics test I ever took in college, my mind completely blanked. I couldn’t remember any formula other than F = ma, and did indeed laboriously re-derive everything else from that. Finally, I turned the last page… and discovered that it was a formula sheet. Let me tell you, though, once you’ve done that once, you’ll never forget those formulas again.

And BrotherCadfael, I just went looking for references to tattoos in dress codes, and am 0 for 3 so far (though I did see one that prohibited various sorts of offensive tattoos, it wouldn’t apply to a tat of a formula). So I guess I stand corrected and surprised on that point.

Just forfun.

It may be easier to approach this from an “information” point of view.

Cheating is obtaining information from outside somehow… any which way thats done apart from the information being remembered in your brain.

As your fingers do not have the information stored in them from outside/before the test, its not cheating to use them for counting/arithmetic/making suggestive gestures.

Physics exams involving magnetic field theory has a lot of odd suggestions being made… it could be mistaken for bizarre form of sign language … probably talk about whats going to happen in the after-exam orgy

When it comes to professional testing, high-stakes testing, standardized testing, you cannot use such tattoos in the course of the exam.

I’ve worked as an invigilator for Pearson, the largest testing company in the world. We check visible tattoos for test-related info and if you’re suspected of looking at covered tattoos, in the testing room or during breaks, etc., we pull you out and end the test. It’s up to your testing sponsor to pursue the matter after that.

You lose your test for that day and in some cases cannot test again. That can be a real problem if you ever thought of working in that area, which, obviously you did if you were taking a test. You also lose the $400-2500 you spent to take the test. Ouch all around.

Whether or not to cheat is an ethical dilemma - IMHO whether a certain behaviour should be considered cheating is not. I would say its… a matter of opinion. So this should go to IMHO. But for completely different reasons! :stuck_out_tongue:

How about tapu’s example. If I get a tattoo of the law of gravitation, etc, and then have a calculator embedded in my arm (not outside the bounds of reason), then I will never make a math mistake again. I will always have correct answers in my field.

In this case, how is that cheating? Isn’t the purpose of the test to make sure I’m capable of performing certain tasks? I obviously am, so what’s the problem? Am I mistaking the purpose of testing? :confused: What about this guy I know Johnny with his dyslexia prosthesis implant? Can’t he be an English teacher, or did he “cheat” to pass the board exam?

My GF’s university (where she’s a postgraduate admin) requires long-sleeved tops for exams.