New weapon in war against exam cheats

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

  • Published
Exam room
Image caption,
Exam boards say cheating will not be tolerated

A new hi-tech weapon against those who cheat their way to exam success has been unveiled.

The new computerised screening device flags up where candidates get the same scores in written answers.

Statistical analysis is already widely used in multiple-choice tests to catch out cheats.

Cambridge Assessment, which runs three English exam boards, said its new tool would send a message that cheating is not tolerated.

The screening works by analysing data gleaned from the exam boards' online marking system.

The system also allows assessors to manipulate and analyse the data produced from the papers.

'Malpractice investigation'

The programme then flags up any unusual patterns in answers question by question.

A Cambridge Assessment spokeswoman said: "If two or three candidates are getting exactly the same marks for questions, then possible cases of cheating can be investigated.

"If a lot of candidates are getting the same marks then an investigation for malpractice can be set up."

Exam board OCR's head of compliance, Stephen Hunt, said: "Another weapon in our armoury is always welcome.

"This new screening service fills a gap in our ability to detect malpractice and will be a handy addition to the resources used to maintain the integrity of an exam."

University of Cambridge International Examinations' compliance unit manager, Ben Sennitt, said: "Cambridge does not tolerate cheating. We use a wide range of methods to detect and prevent malpractice during examinations.

"Students who cheat or assist others to cheat risk having their examination entries voided and their grades withheld."

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