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8:00am on Monday, 27th March, 2006:

Examining Cheating


It's my elder daughter's first GCSE examination this afternoon: drama. From today, her exams start to count.

By coincidence, in the news this morning is the story that mobile phones have led to a 25% increase in cheating during exams. Although 25% sounds a lot, the actual number of incidents is small in absolute terms — 1,897 out of over 7 million papers.

I've two things to say about this.

Firstly, those are detected cases. Most cheating in examinations goes undetected. Even if it is detected, it's usually so difficult to prove that candidates will often get off with just a warning. I myself have told students to stop looking at the answers of the people sitting next to them, but of course their response of "I was just staring into space" is hard to counter. It stops them looking, though, or at least starts them looking to see if I'm looking before they start looking again. If I do catch them a second time I'll report them, but in the absence of photographic evidence it would lead to a hard-fought battle in court if they chose to challenge the ruling.

Secondly, who needs to cheat in GCSE examinations when with coursework it's harder not to cheat?

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).