Chinese gaokao exam cheats face seven-year jail term

Exam season is stressful enough, but none more so than in China, where pupils can face up to seven years in jail if they are caught cheating in the notoriously difficult college entrance exams.

Richard Vaughan

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Yesterday and today saw more than 9 million students sit the dreaded gaokao exam, which can make or break a young person’s career before it has even begun.

The test, which has its roots in imperial China, is used to determine which university a student can go to. With the stakes so high, the temptation for students to cheat has led to authorities bringing in drastically punitive laws that could lead to culprits spending between three and seven years in jail.

The new laws were passed in autumn last year, in an attempt by the government to ensure the tests remained fair – and to put off potential cheaters.

According to the New York Times, police officers were deployed in each of Beijing’s examination sites yesterday.

It followed a recent statement issued by the Ministry of Education that warned: “Do not believe any kind of group or individual offering false ‘test help’ and be tricked, and risk suffering a lifetime of regret.”

Students are also subjected to a range of security measures before taking their seat in the exam hall, which include facial recognition, fingerprint scanning and passing through a metal detector.

Some places, such as Luoyang in Henan, utilised flying drones that hovered over the examination halls in a bid to detect and intercept radio signals coming to and from the buildings.      

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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