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Chat and cheat: Students using mobile phones in exams

Back in the day, if you wanted to use a mobile phone to cheat in an exam there were several barriers. First, you had to own a mobile phone. Second, you had to know someone else who owned a mobile phone. And third, that person had to be available to text you answers while you were in the exam. Not that we ever tried it, but you can imagine it’s not the ideal cheating scenario.

These days, however, it’s a real problem. According to the BBC, mobile phone use accounted for one in three cases of cheating last year; now that everyone and their dog has a mobile – most of which can access the internet – it’s no real surprise. But what can schools do to stop these sneaky little cheats?

Exam centres are now required to put up posters warning students that mobiles and other electronic equipment are forbidden in the exam hall, but this relies a little too much on the honesty of the examinees. Jamming signals is not really an option, partly because it might affect other equipment but also because the invigilators need to be able to call for help if there is an emergency of some kind.

One alternative is to invest in mobile phone detection equipment, currently being sold by companies like Mobysafe. The detectors that Mobysafe have developed are able to detect 2G, 3G and hidden wireless cameras without affecting or identifying other electronic devices (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth signals etc).

Cheating students clearly aren’t worried enough to prepare properly but they’re willing to risk disqualification by bringing a mobile phone to an exam; now that the possibility of being caught is seriously high, you have to wonder why they bother.

[Image from Flickr user skipgo shannon]

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