A cheat sheet that is used contrary to the rules of an exam may need to be small enough to conceal in the palm of the hand
Cheat sheet in a juice box
A cheat sheet or crib sheet is a concise set of notes used for quick reference. “Cheat sheet” may also be rendered “cheatsheet” or “cheat-sheet.”
Cheat sheets are so named because they may be used by students without the instructor’s knowledge to cheat on a test. However, at higher levels of education where rote memorization is not as important, use of cheat sheets on exams may be sanctioned and recommended by the instructor (and thus such use is not cheating, despite the name). The act of preparing a cheat sheet is also a useful educational exercise, thus students are typically only allowed to use cheat sheets they have written themselves. In such usage a cheat sheet is a physical piece of paper, often filled with equations and/or facts in compressed writing.
* 1 As reference cards
* 2 In open-book internet-based examinations
As reference cards
It has been suggested that portions of this section be moved into Reference card. (Discuss)
In more general usage, a “cheat sheet” is any short (one or two page) reference to terms, commands, or symbols where the user is expected to understand the use of such terms etc but not necessarily to have memorized all of them. Many computer applications, for example, have cheat sheets included in their documentation which list keystrokes or menu commands needed to achieve specific tasks to save the user the effort of digging through an entire manual to find the keystroke needed to, for example, move between two windows. An example of such a cheat sheet is one for the Gimp photo editing software.
Some academic and technical publishers also publish cheat sheets for software packages and technical topics. In some cases these are also intended as display items in that they are colourful and visually appealing. A freely available (but copyrighted) example of a ‘for display’ cheat sheet is a guide to blood tube types for phlebotomy.
Web-based cheat sheets in the second sense described above, such as a reference to terms, commands, or symbols, have become extremely common.
In open-book internet-based examinations
In modern open-book internet-based examinations, the “cheat sheet” (loaded onto a USB stick for example) may be regarded as an essential component. Specifically, from the examiner’s point of view, what the student loads is a strong indication of what the student knows. Wikipedia has also become a source for such pre-loaded notes. Specifically, it is easier to click-direct from stick rather than typing.