Teenager turns herself in over suspected cheating on Japan’s nationwide university exam

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kagawa Prefectural Police headquarters

A 19-year-old female has turned herself in to the Kagawa Prefectural Police on Thursday in connection with the suspected cheating incident during the Jan. 15 Common Test for University Admissions, officials investigating the case said.

The teenager is believed to have told police that she was involved in the sending of photos of test questions during the exam to university students who provided answers.

The Metropolitan Police Department is set to hear a detailed account of the situation from the teen, who appears to have been a test taker in Kagawa Prefecture.

According to investigators, someone identifying on social media as a second-year female high school student asked at least four university students via Skype from December for advice on how to prepare for the entrance exam, which is usually taken by third-year high school students.

Courtesy of a University of Tokyo student
A screenshot of the Skype communications app shows messages exchanged between a person who asked for test answers and a University of Tokyo student.

The advice-seeker came to know the university students mainly through a website introducing home tutors. Some students at colleges including the University of Tokyo responded to the advice-seeker’s request.

According to sources, the advice-seeker sought answers to test questions sent in the form of photos via Skype on the morning of Jan. 15 to the university students. The questions in the photos are consistent with those on the World History B test that was being conducted during the time the images were sent.

The university students said they did not realize the questions were from the actual test when they completed them and sent the answers back before the test ended.

Courtesy of a University of Tokyo student
Screenshots show what appears to be questions from this year’s World History B test of the Common Test for University Admissions.

The MPD is investigating the case on suspicion of fraudulent obstruction of business after receiving a report of suspected cheating from the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, the administrator of the test. Some of the university students who provided answers reported the suspicious activity to the test administrator.

The MPD found after checking with the administrator that the name used by the advice-seeker did not match any found on the register of nearly 500,000 students who took the exam on Jan. 15.

The university students who provided test answers were questioned on a voluntary basis by the MPD. The police thus confirmed records of Skype conversations and images, which look to have been taken by an electronic device.