According to the Educational Testing Service, cheating peaks in high school, where 75 percent of students admit to getting an unfair advantage at some point. The temptation to cheat increases due to pressure for high grades, but many schools are developing stricter policies on academic dishonesty, so cheating on an exam can result in severe consequences.
The type and severity of punishment you'll receive for cheating on an exam varies depending on the teacher and the school's academic dishonesty policies. Your teacher may give you a failing grade on the exam, or fail you for the entire course. Depending on your school's policies, cheaters may have to appear before an academic standards committee, which will decide further punishment, such as expulsion or academic probation, if necessary.
The specifics of academic probation also depend on your school. At the college level, you'll likely have a set of requirements to fulfill before your probationary status ends, and you can be dismissed from the school if you fail to complete them within a specified time frame. Once you're dismissed, you lose all previous academic progress, and you won't be able to take courses from the college that dismissed you.
If you're expelled or dismissed from high school or college, it makes it more difficult to get into colleges and find work. College and job applications often ask if you were ever fired or expelled, and they may also require proof of your academic history. If you want to pursue a degree after being dismissed or expelled, you'll have to start over. You may also have to take classes at a community college to reestablish your academic integrity before larger colleges will accept you.
Even if you get away with cheating, you don't learn the information the exam was testing. If you're in a class that builds on previous information, cheating will make it difficult to understand concepts presented later. Falling behind will make it more tempting to cheat, and the more often you cheat, the higher the chances that you'll get caught. What you see as a short-term solution can definitely have long-term repercussions.