There is much to lose in cheating on college entrance examinations

A smartphone was used for cheating. How can the use of digital devices to cheat be prevented? Relevant organizations must rack their brains.

A 19-year-old female university student living in Osaka Prefecture has turned herself in to the police over allegations that photos of questions from the Common Test for University Admissions were sent to external parties.

The university student has admitted that she sent the images via the internet during the exam to University of Tokyo students and others she met through a website used to find tutors, and asked the students to answer the questions. The student reportedly said she registered on the site with the intention of cheating.

The teen, a student of a university in the Kansai region, was hoping to enter a prestigious private university in Tokyo. “My grades didn’t improve and my demons got the better of me,” she reportedly said.

With the widespread use of smartphones, it has become commonplace for people to immediately search online for anything they do not know. Was the student pressured to get good grades, and did she resort to using her smartphone without giving it much thought?

The Metropolitan Police Department is questioning the university student on a voluntary basis with a view to filing charges on suspicion of fraudulent obstruction of business. As for how she took the image, she reportedly said, “I took a video with my smartphone hidden in the sleeve of my jacket, and sent it after converting it to a still image.”

The details of her ruse must be clarified so that efforts can be made to prevent such activities from happening again.

The majority of examinees have smartphones at examination venues. The National Center for University Entrance Examinations requires students to turn off their phones and keep them in their bags during exams. Even so, the latest incident occurred, and this fact must be taken seriously.

It is important for the center to examine the supervision conditions and seating arrangements at the venue where the student used her phone, and to study measures to prevent a recurrence.

A proposal has been mooted to install devices that block smartphone communication at test sites or to temporarily hold examinees’ devices, but such measures would be difficult to achieve in the common test, which is taken by nearly 500,000 students.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has told universities to intensify patrolling at exam sites. Each venue needs to deal with the matter with a sense of urgency.

The cost of cheating in entrance examinations is high. Results will be invalidated if cheating is discovered, and even if it goes undetected, the students will have to live the rest of their lives with a sense of guilt.

Also during the recent common test, a second-year high school student stabbed two examinees and a bystander. The similarity between the two incidents is that the alleged offenders were struggling to get good grades.

There is more to life than grades and test results. Educational institutions and families need to convey to children the value of making an effort.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 29, 2022.