Top 7 College Exam Cheating Scandals
October 1, 2012 | Lists
College degrees these days will earn you the right to stamp a four-leaf clover into cappuccino foam, whilst the next guy in line hands over a detailed chemical breakdown of the beverage he would like to digest. Bachelor of the arts degrees in particular may not hold as much weight as they once did, but college remains important. After all, it is a pretty reasonable life goal to have at least one certificate on the wall by age 25 that has not been issued by a steak-eater’s club or a criminal detention center.
In the Borat movie, Kazakhstan was not exactly portrayed as the land of the future and this story does little to dispel that impression of the country. The movie raised the country’s profile and in recent times the country’s non-Borat-related GDP is surging because of a dynamic resource sector, particularly in uranium. As a result getting a place at a university there is as difficult as finding elbow room at a reasonably priced, good quality buffet on a Friday night.
In the era of the smartphone, one Kazakh student’s attempt to cheat on a university entrance exam seems almost quaint. He coiled a 35-foot crib sheet underneath his shirt. How he possibly thought he could have carried this off is beyond us – what if the answer he wanted was on foot 17? He was discovered when he was caught “fiddling inside his clothing”. On the bright side, if that phrase is going to be associated with your name in the international news, then this is probably one of the best ways for that to happen. Exam observers found a chain of printouts containing 25,000 potential exam answers.
2. Head, Shoulders and Great Neck Above the Competition
It was a little over a year ago that one of the major recent SAT cheating scandals broke in the US at Great Neck School on Long Island, New York. Great Neck – something you rarely hear construction workers shout at passing women – is ranked as one of the best public schools in America (sort of a “best Creationist scientist”-type distinction, we realize). Francis Ford Coppola is among the alumni.
The school’s reputation was sullied last year by a 2010 Long Island grad who, according to reports flew home from college to impersonate high school students, accepting between $1,500 and $2,500 from each of them to take SAT and ACT exams. He also reportedly took a test free for a seventh student, a girl, in what no doubt would have made classic 80s sitcom material. Criminal charges were brought against those who participated and ripple effects were felt throughout the country, with many schools insisting on proper photo ID to sit SAT tests.
In defense of the students involved here, we would like to underscore the fact that they parted with an average of $2K each to pass their SATs, money that could have, and some would say should have, gone to fueling their vices. That they were willing to invest that much in their academic future should be counted in their favor.
As we noted in a previous post, the questions and answers on Yahoo! Answers make Wikipedia entries seem like peer-reviewed articles in Nature. You wouldn’t want to go on there to find out in which direction the sun rises let alone for help on your university entrance examination. But one Kyoto University hopeful did just that – consulting the Yahoo! Japan Answers forum from his cell with questions from his test.
His postings included asking for help with math formulas and translating Japanese into English. After one such request, he wrote: “It’s a rather long passage, and I apologize for the trouble.” Several replies followed but someone ratted him out to the university on day two of the exam, triggering an investigation. Incredulous, lazy North America-raised Editors’ Note: DAY TWO of the bloody exam??!!)
4. Exams Where Batteries Aren’t Included
In China, about 10 million people take a university undergrad prerequisite course after which they must sit for the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. According to a report in time, so much importance is placed on the test that doctors routinely prescribe birth control pills to female test-takers whose parents fear that an untimely period would keep them away from the books. (Note to Chinese parents: This could lead to unwanted consequences among females who aren’t the bookish type).
Last summer, Chinese police arrested more than 60 people for selling wireless headphones, two-way radios and other electronic gizmos that they were hawking to students encouraging them to cheat.
5. Business Ethics 101 at the University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida’s College of Business testing lab’s cheating prevention program is so extensive it was featured in The New York Times. The measures in place there are not unlike those that keep your less scrupulous gamblers from taking food out of the mouths of the upstanding folk who run the world’s finest casino and resort complexes. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student’s real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in.
It’s basically the last place you’d expect to be home to a major cheating scandal, but that’s what arose after hundreds of management course students were forced to retake a test after their professor discovered them cheating. He then scolded them saying, “I don’t want to be the one to have to explain to your parents why you are not going to graduate”. (Editors’ Note: We would be more than happy to do this.)
If there is one area of study in which we roundly condemn cheating, it is medicine. While cheating can be used to advance oneself in professions such as law, accounting or roofing, in medicine, we’d like to be certain that the guy snapping on the rubber glove really earned that privilege.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based standardized examination for prospective North American medical students, which determines whether they have what it takes to don the stethoscope or whether they will be made to suffer the indignity of becoming homeopaths. Two men in BC, were busted for trying to cheat on the MCAT using secret cameras and wireless transmitters. Police allege one of them in the city of Victoria, used a pinhole camera and wireless technology to transmit images of the questions on a computer screen back to his co-conspirator, based in Vancouver. Three students were also conscripted, duped into thinking they were taking a test to become MCAT tutors and their answers were passed along by phone. The students became suspicious when they noted the poor quality of the images of the test questions, and tipped off campus security, but not before submitting various wrong answers
7. Cutting Edge Cheats
Going back to Asia, we bring you a South Korean cram school, which had guaranteed students wanting to study in the US high SAT scores. That should have been a red flag as, all things equal, some kids could benefit from extra study and ace their SATS on merit alone. Others will never pass the SATs and it’s cruel to force them to spend their off-hours in cram schools when they could be doing something better suited to their mental abilities, like watching concrete harden, perhaps.
An instructor at the cram school and three college-aged students smuggled in paper cutters hidden in erasers to cut out questions from SAT exams over a period of five months. They would then sell these questions to students about to take the test and often would relay them immediately to those who would be taking the same test hours later in the US.