Exam malpractice commission calls for ban on all watches to stop cheating in tests

10 September 2019, 10:18 | Updated: 11 September 2019, 10:21

A report has suggested all watches should be banned from exam halls in order to battle cheating
A report has suggested all watches should be banned from exam halls in order to battle cheating. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

An inquiry has suggested all watches should be banned from exam halls to help stop cheating, while a Global's Newsroom investigation found specially made "cheating watches" available for sale.

A report by the the Independent Commission on Examination Malpractice came after a call from evidence from education and exam experts.

It found a number of invigilators were struggling to tell the difference between modern smartwatches which can access things like emails - and older analogue ones.

The report said "there has been a proliferation in smartwatches and a boost in their capabilities so that it is difficult for invigilators to distinguish between smart and non-smart watches. Inexpensive self-described ‘cheating watches’ are available online."

A, so-called, "cheating watch" easily available online
A, so-called, "cheating watch" easily available online. Picture: Global's Newsroom

A Global's Newsroom investigation found, so-called, "cheating watches" were easily available from online retailers.

One online shopping site even advertised the product as "specifically designed for cheating on exams," and said it as "perfect for covertly viewing exam notes."

The product has an "emergency button" which instantly hides the text. Global's Newsroom also found cheating pens, which contain concealed notes, allowing students to conceal notes from invigilators.

A "cheating pen" found for sale online
A "cheating pen" found for sale online. Picture: Global's Newsroom

The Joint Council for Qualifications also believes "toilet sweeps" should be carried out to stop pupils hiding notes or devices in cubicles.

The report also addressed concerns over exam papers for sale on the Dark Web, suggesting the JCQ should take the "lead in facilitating the monitoring of the dark web for examination malpractice."

Exam regulator Ofqual said: "Many of the Report’s recommendations are ones that we have also identified, support and have begun to work with other stakeholders to address. In general, there is a need for greater clarity and consistency in the ways in which malpractice is identified, prevented and sanctioned."

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