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University student provides details of national exam ruse

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Marugame Police Station in Kagawa Prefecture, where a female university student turned herself in on Thursday

The 19-year-old university student who turned herself into police said she acted alone in the suspected leak of test questions during the national unified university admission exam on Jan. 15, and used a hidden smartphone to record the test questions, according to police sources.

The student, who lives in Osaka Prefecture and turned herself in at the Kagawa prefectural police’s Marugame Police Station on Thursday, told investigators: “I did it alone. I gave into temptation [to cheat] as my grades hadn’t improved.”

Details of the ruse came out after the student conceded to being questioned by the Metropolitan Police Department, which has not filed charges against her at this stage because she turned herself in.

The MPD is looking into whether the suspected cheating constitutes a charge of interfering with operations of the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, which is the administrator of the two-day Common Test for University Admissions, through deceitful means.

According to the sources, the student said she attends a university in the Kansai region but was aiming to get into a top private university in Tokyo. She took the unified university entrance exam at a venue in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, on Jan. 15.

After the suspected cheating was reported in the media on Wednesday, the student called her mother and cried as she confessed her involvement, the sources said. The next morning, accompanied by her mother and grandmother, she turned herself in at the Marugame Police Station in Kagawa Prefecture. Her home is in Kochi Prefecture, also in the Shikoku region.

“I hid my smartphone in the sleeve of my jacket and took a video of the exam question sheet, then I sent still images,” the student was quoted by police as saying.

The investigation revealed that a person identifying herself as a second-year female high school student solicited help from at least four university students through a website introducing home tutors from last December, saying such things as “I want you to tutor me on Jan. 15 to prepare for the Common Test.”

During the World History B test on Jan. 15, the images of exam questions were sent to the tutors, including at least one University of Tokyo student, via Skype. One or more tutors, unaware that the questions were from the actual test, are believed to have provided answers to the questions while the test was still in progress.

The advise-seeker is believed to have been the female university student, who told investigators during questioning by the MPD that she had registered with the home tutor website “for the purpose of cheating” on the exam, the sources said.

The alleged cheating came to light when a University of Tokyo student who provided answers to the exam questions reported the matter to the exam administrator and other entities.

After the MPD being contacted by the testing center, the University of Tokyo student and other tutors voluntarily submitted to questioning and the MPD confirmed their Skype history and images. The tutor website provided the advise-seeker’s email address, credit card information and other personal information, from which the MPD could make an identification.

The national testing center requires that test takers turn off electronic devices and store them in bags or other locations prior to the start of the exam. Makeups and re-tests are scheduled to be held this weekend around the country.