(London) There has been an increase in the number of students in England who have been caught cheating in their exams, and the most significant change has been the rise of the use of mobile phones to cheat.
"Over recent years we have seen a noticeable rise in the number of mobile phone related incidents in examination halls across the country," said Ken Boston, chief executive of the examinations board. "As we enter the summer examination season I have today written to schools and colleges to remind them of their responsibilities to impress upon students the importance of not taking mobile phones into examinations."
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the body that oversees exams, found that more than 4,500 students were cited for cheating in 2005, an increase of more than 27 percent since 2004.
Smuggling cheating aides into the exam was the most common type of violation, with 1,887 students getting caught for this offense.
Students in England can lose points or even be failed just for possessing a cell phone with them during exams, whether or not they use them to cheat.
England, of course, is not alone in the phenomenon of cell phone cheating. Students in the same room could type the number of a problem on a test or quiz and receive a text message from a classmate containing the desired answer.
Better yet, if students needed help on an exam, they could enter a word or problem into their phone and send it to a student away from the testing site who can look up the answer for them.
And, given the amount of memory that some of these phones hold, a student might very easily store an entire semester's worth of notes in his cell phone.
Of course, the best cheating scam I have yet to hear involves water bottles. I had students last year in a moment of candor tell me that water bottle cheaters are everywhere.
"You peel off the label, dry it, fill the back side up with notes, and then glue it back on the bottle," said one student, whose identity I will keep safe. "Professors never think to check the water bottles."
Other favorite cheating techniques include: notes in the pantyhose, notes on one's hand, and notes posted on a nearby bulletin board disguised as a harmless announcement.
Another interesting technique disclosed to me involved foreign alphabets.
"If you learn the Greek alphabet you can put up a lot of notes around you that look like fraternity newsletters," said one student. "The only risk you run is if the instructor reads Greek."
To my mind it seems easier to just work hard and study. Some of these students put more time into beating the system than if they had just studies in the first place.