Romania dictionary altered to thwart exam cheats

A page of a Romanian to English dictionary
Image caption The spike in searches for certain words is thought to be down to students using their smartphones during the exam

The administrators of an online Romanian dictionary have altered the definitions of some words over suspicions that students were using the tool to cheat in mock exams.

On Monday, Grade 8 students in Romania sat practice papers for the National Evaluation, a nationwide test for 14- and 15-years-olds. During the same test last year, the DEX online dictionary registered a spike in searches for certain words, arousing administrators' suspicions.

This time around, they decided to watch what happened between the hours of 09:00 and 11:00, when the exam was taking place. They took the three most-searched words and - on the assumption that they were related to the test - completely changed the definitions for each one, the Republica news website reports.

The Romanian word "pretutindeni" means "everywhere", but anyone searching for it on the DEX site on Monday morning would have found it defined as "eternal or forever". The verb "to spot" someone or something was also amended, with its meaning given as "to rush".

There were only nine searches for those two words in the hour before the exam started, but the number soon began to soar, with hundreds of requests while the test was taking place, the DEX administrators say. It transpires that both words did feature in the exam, in a question that required students to define their meaning.

The third word that appeared abnormally popular, "treachery", wasn't actually on the test. The DEX administrators assumed it was and changed its definition, but later discovered that it had been used by a well-known Romanian author in a blog post that morning, something they call an "unfortunate coincidence".

Next story: Conduct rules for 'Old Holland' tourists

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.

Related Topics