Schools look to expose exam cheats

Photo: John Lee

Detection equipment is being sold to schools in an effort to reduce the amount of mobile phone-related cheating in exams.

New figures published today by the exams watchdog Ofqual show that more than 4,400 people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were caught cheating in last year’s GCSEs and A-levels; a 6% rise since last year.

The most common cheating method is the use of mobile phones, prompting schools to take action in order to trace devices being used secretly in exam rooms.

The equipment has the ability to identify any texts or emails being sent, and also to monitor Internet access within the room; especially helpful due to the recent rise in popularity of  ‘smartphones’ such as the Apple iPhone which offer users PC-like functions.

However, the effectiveness of this new technology could be threatened, as pupils are being targeted by websites selling “exam cheat equipment”, including hidden ear-pieces to receive information.

As well as this, there are also ear-pieces which can be used wirelessly with concealed digital music players, meaning pupils could potentially listen to lecture notes whilst under examination.

The use of ear-pieces would mean the mobile phone detection equipment would be useless, meaning other cheat-preventing tactics have been discussed, such as having CCTV cameras installed.

Another method which is being tested in Denmark, is to allow pupils the use of the Internet in exams.

All exam centres must now display a warning poster informing students about the strict rules in place with regards to bringing mobile phones or other electronic equipment into exams.

The penalties for being caught with such a device are severe; the pupil may be disqualified from the exam itself; receiving no marks, or even from the unit or course altogether.