Hi-tech Exam Cheats Increasing

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These kids today eh, a new UK report on last year’s GCSE’s shows that cheating by using various forms of technology is on the rise. The little scamps are not only using mobile phones – so often the cause of my ire at pub quizzes… it’s a tainted victory folks, tainted – but they’re also taking advantage of products from sites that are openly selling “exam cheat equipment”.

The old fashioned way of cheating.

A quick search online reveals that ‘invisible’ Bluetooth earpieces could be available for between €80 to €145 and it’s these sort of products that are worrying British school chiefs in particular, along with kids surreptitiously listening to audio files on regular MP3 players or even using programmable calculators that can hold text, formulas, or even pictures. A BBC report notes that while students are being targeted by these ‘cheat’ sites, schools are in turn “receiving adverts from technology firms selling detection equipment, promising to identify texting, e-mails or pupils using mobiles to search the internet”.

In all, more than 4,400 people were caught cheating in last year’s GCSEs and A-levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland according to figure from Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in the UK). There numbers show a 6% rise in cheating by candidates although the body points out cheating is still very rare, affecting 0.03% of exams taken.

The regulatory body currently specifies a ban for exam candidates on “reading pens and electronic communication or storage devices, including mobile telephones, iPods and MP3/4 players and… any product which can capture a digital image”.

With the jamming of signals not allowed, as it might interfere with other equipment, ways being discussed to tackles the problem include the introduction of CCTV though. One solution from the Danes though has been to stop trying to prevent the use of technology in exams altogether and allow pupils to have open access to the internet.

In Ireland meanwhile, we couldn’t find any figures on how many kids are using various means of technology to get better grades. However, we’re guessing that somewhere around the nation there must be somebody using their mock exams  this month to prepare not only for their Leaving Cert but also for the manner in which they intend to cheat during it.

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