Academic cheating is anything you do to make it appear that someone else's work is your own or any time you allow someone else to copy your work and submit it as their own. It can include sharing another's work, copying answers on an exam or homework assignment, buying a research or creative paper, paying someone else to do your work for you, obtaining copies of exams, homework assignments, and notes and using them in place of doing your own work, etc. When the grade, rather than learning the material, becomes the focus, many students become more willing to do whatever it takes to get an "A." Although some acts of cheating are unintentional - the student doesn't realize what he or she is doing is considered cheating - most of the time students know when they are doing something wrong.
When you cheat on an exam, you are depriving yourself of an opportunity to learn. If you find yourself cheating a lot, take a few minutes and ask yourself why. Is there something going on in your life that you need to examine more closely? There are many resources available to students at Penn State that provide help with academic issues and improving study skills. If you are having academic problems, a good place to start is by talking to your instructor and then to your academic advisor.
After you graduate and secure a professional position, you will be judged by your knowledge and skills. If you cheat your way through school so that your knowledge and skills don't correlate with the grades on your transcript, then what value was the money you spent to attend school? Even with excellent grades, if you don't have the knowledge and skills you need to perform your job, you won't have a successful professional career.
To learn more about academic integrity see the iStudy tutorial, "Academic Integrity, Plagiarism, and Copyright" (http://www.istudy.psu.edu/tutorials/academicintegrity/).