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Thai Police Bust High Tech Exam Cheating Ring

It’s certainly not been a good week for the world’s examiners. First, the Department for Education were forced to admit that a “rogue marker” was responsible for trying to leak a SATS paper to the media after it had mistakenly been published on a secure website on Tuesday. The DfE was quoted as blaming an “active campaign” against the exams, which have been criticised by many as being too difficult for their targeted age, and for placing undue stress on the 11 year olds sitting them.

This was then followed by an extraordinary story from Thailand, where it emerged that a ring of students sitting medical exams in Bangkok had devised a “Mission Impossible-like” plan to cheat the test using spy cameras and smart watches. The plan was for the students to wear glasses with a built-in spy camera to the exam, which would then send images of the test paper to an as-yet unidentified third party. The answers were then sent back to the student as text to their smart watch.  Supposedly the students had paid up to 800,000 Baht ($31,000) each in order to participate.

Both of these stories illustrate how modern communications and technology are increasingly making it difficult to seal off test answers from the inquisitive- and ingenious- students who want to get at them. But what are some of the most brazen methods that have been used?

Disclaimer- SpyCameraCCTV does not endorse cheating. Don’t do it.

written test
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  • Pens. A classic one this- all you need is a cheatsheet with the relevant information crammed onto it, and a means to conceal it inside an innocent looking pen. Of course, despite it’s simplicity, there are still plenty of stories of this method going wrong. In a popular AskReddit thread, one professor describes how a student
    “...wrote up some of the more difficult bits of class material on a piece of paper, cut it to size, and glued it to the plastic cylinder. Look like you’re nervous, click pen a few times, go back to taking the test. Voila!  But he didn’t give it a test run first, and he either glued it wrong or replaced the cylinder upside down. Caught him when he kept clicking the pen and then turning it around so he could read it.
  • Secret Earpieces. The more high tech methods for cheating on an exam usually somehow involve a secret earpiece, through which a student can either be fed answers by a partner, or listen to Mp3 recordings of information. There is even a cottage industry of electronics retail sites dedicated to supplying the gear to do this, with kits costing hundreds of dollars. Some models even use a tiny “SOS” buzzer on a wire to signal to a partner that you need assistance. And no, we’re not going to link to them.
  • Food Items. Some students have sought to take an edge from the fact that many exams allow them to take in drinks and snacks to keep them going through the test. One popular Youtube video shows how to scan a fizzy drink bottle label, and then use Photoshop to edit it’s text to include answers and information to sneakily read once in the exam hall. Of course, if you are worried about leaving evidence, you can also try and sneak it in in more disposable means- there is at least one example of a student writing answers onto crisps using food dye.  Of course, this then poses the risk that you may have to spend half an exam fishing around in a pack of crisps to find the correct one…
  • Send in a ringer. Sometimes it’s best to just not risk it at all and send in someone who knows what they’re doing. In 2011 for example, New York cops busted 20 teenagers in a cheating ring, whereby older students would charge between $500-$3,000 to impersonate high school students in their College entrance exams. In an ironic twist, the colleges weren’t actually allowed to be told of the allegations because the guilty parties were juveniles, and so protected by privacy laws. Perhaps it was worth the resulting misdemeanor charges?

Ultimately, given the effort required for most of these schemes, one wonders whether it would not be easier to just…revise?

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