Dealing with Cheaters: Maintaining Quiz Integrity


Pub quizzes have long been a beloved pastime, offering participants a chance to test their knowledge, have fun, and engage in friendly competition. However, as with any competitive activity, there’s always the risk of cheating undermining the integrity of the quiz. Whether it’s sneaking peeks at smartphones, sharing answers, or using online resources, cheating can leave participants feeling discouraged and frustrated. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the importance of maintaining quiz integrity and explore effective strategies for dealing with cheaters in order to ensure a fair and enjoyable quiz experience.

The Significance of Quiz Integrity

Maintaining the integrity of your pub quiz is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, a fair quiz environment fosters a sense of trust and respect among participants. When players know that the competition is honest, they’re more likely to enjoy the experience and return for future quizzes. Moreover, quiz integrity is closely tied to the reputation of the quiz host or venue. Consistently enforcing the rules and preventing cheating demonstrates your commitment to providing a high-quality entertainment experience.

Recognising Different Types of Cheating

Before addressing how to deal with cheaters, it’s important to identify the various forms cheating can take. Here are a few common types of cheating encountered in pub quizzes:

1. Smartphone Use: With smartphones at our fingertips, it’s tempting for participants to search for answers discreetly. This undermines the spirit of the quiz and discourages fair play. During the last few years this has been the most common form of cheating or attempted cheating that we have encountered whilst we have been hosting pub quizzes. 

2. Team Collaboration: Some teams might secretly collaborate with neighbouring teams or use signals to share answers during rounds. This is less likely than using smartphones. 

3. Pre-Quiz Research: Individuals may research questions in advance, either online or through other means, giving them an unfair advantage. This is only applicable if the teams have access to the questions in advance which is unlikely. 

4. Latecomer Advantage: Latecomers might gain an advantage by overhearing answers from earlier rounds, skewing the competition.

5. Substituting Answers: Some participants may attempt to replace their original answer sheet with a corrected version during grading.

Strategies for Maintaining Quiz Integrity

When we host pub quizzes we have always found that the most efficient strategy to maintain the integrity of the pub quiz is to walk amongst the players and their tables while the quiz questions are being read out. This is easier if the are 2 people hosting but can also be done by a sole host , particularly if they are using a microphone to announce the quiz questions. A discreet look, or mention about putting phones away is often enough to keep everyone honest.

 The following are also useful guidelines:

 1. Clear Rules and Guidelines: Clearly communicate the rules at the start of the quiz. Emphasise the importance of fair play and the consequences of cheating. This sets the tone for the entire event. We use the slide below within our Powerpoint Quiz deck setting out the rules.

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2. Design Distinct Rounds: Vary the types of questions and formats to discourage participants from relying solely on online resources. Incorporate visual rounds, audio rounds, and interactive challenges.

3. Implement Time Limits: Introduce time limits for answering questions. This prevents participants from spending excessive time searching for answers on their devices.

4. Prohibit Smartphone Use: Make it a rule to keep smartphones off the table during the quiz. Encourage participants to focus on their knowledge and teamwork.

5. Randomise Seating: If possible, mix up team placements between rounds to discourage collaboration between neighbouring teams. Unfortunately this is unlikely to work. We have found that teams become accustomed to a specific table that they like to sit at and will return to the same spot each week and even get upset if any other team had “taken their table”. To ask them to swap tables mid quiz, although ideal, would be impossible to implement. 

 Dealing with Cheaters

 Despite preventive measures, there may still be instances where cheating occurs. Here’s how to address these situations while maintaining professionalism:

1. Address the Issue Privately: If you suspect cheating, approach the team or individual discreetly during a break or after the quiz. Avoid causing a scene that could disrupt the event.

2. Offer a Warning: Give the benefit of the doubt initially. Politely inform the participants that their behaviour is against the rules and emphasise the importance of maintaining quiz integrity.

3. Enforce Penalties: Clearly state the consequences of cheating in advance. Penalties can range from point deductions to disqualification for the entire quiz.

4. Encourage Honesty: Sometimes, participants may unknowingly bend the rules. Encourage them to admit their mistakes and reinforce the value of honest competition.


Maintaining quiz integrity is a shared responsibility between the quiz host and participants. By fostering a culture of fair play, setting clear rules, and addressing cheating incidents with professionalism, you can ensure that your pub quiz remains an enjoyable and respected activity for all involved. Remember, a quiz is not just about winning; it’s about testing knowledge, having fun, and creating memorable experiences that participants will look forward to sharing with others.

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