How student’s hi-tech plan to cheat in exam backfired

Chemistry tuition teacher’s one-upmanship boast exposes pupil’s smart device formula for deception

As more than 300,00 students studied hard to sit the G.C.E. (Advanced Level) examination at least one of them had a plan for an easier method to pass the exam.
However, the student candidate’s plan came a cropper when an over-ambitious accomplice published a pamphlet boasting about his one-upmanship as a tuition teacher par excellence. The botched attempt is now a case for the police and an eyeopener for examination authorities.

Investigations have revealed that the student browsed the internet, looking for hi-tech devices to cheat in exams.

After nearly two months of web search, the student, who studied at a Colombo school, decided on a device and brought it down. He then discussed his hi-tech plan with his chemistry tuition teacher. According to the detectives, the man had agreed to be part of the plan after the student’s father, a dentist attached to the Police Hospital, offered him Rs. 1 million .

The tiny device which can fit into a box of matches contains a camera with a SIM card – a microchip in a mobile phone. The device comes with a cord that extends from the camera — which is connected to the shirt button — to the user’s toe where the cord is connected to a switch. A Bluetooth connection also is part of the device, but is so small that it could be hidden in the ear.

After a couple of dry runs, the student, a resident of Gampaha, was ready to put the plan into operation.

The modus operandi involves using the camera to capture a picture of a question on the test paper by pressing the switch with the toe. Immediately, the picture is transferred to the mobile phone of the tuition teacher.

The hidden bluetooth device in the ear helps the student to receive the answer from the tuition master when he reads it out on the mobile phone.
The plan was put to use for the Chemistry paper last Saturday. Keeping to his plan, the student transmitted one of the questions to the tuition master and got the answer, too.

The question sent out was one of the difficult questions with several sub sections to be answered.

The student left the examination hall without a problem, but elsewhere later in the evening, alarmed students and parents were agitating for an answer from examination authorities over reports that the chemistry paper had been leaked.

The source of the report was a pamphlet printed and distributed by the tuition master the same day. He claimed in the pamphlet that a question he had discussed with his students in the tuition class had appeared in the 2017 chemistry paper. To support his claim, the pamphlet carried the picture of the question that the student had transmitted earlier in the day and a question he claims he had discussed with the students in the tuition class. The pamphlet gave his telephone number for new students to enrol in his class.

Two days of investigations revealed that the tuition master had concocted the claim — a marketing gimmick — to attract more student to his revision class. However the student was unaware of the tuition master’s plan.

Detectives said the student would have got away without detection, if the tuition teacher had not printed the pamphlet.

The tuition master is on the run, but his father and brother along with the student and his father have been taken into custody and remanded until August 30.
The incident has sparked off angry reactions from students and parents and raised questions about the confidentially of examinations.

Examinations Commissioner General W.M.N.J. Pushpakumara told the Sunday Times that no sooner the matter was brought to his attention than the CID was alerted to take action. He said tight security measures were in place to prevent any leak of examination papers from the printing stage to distribution at the exam centres. However, he assured that further measures would be taken to prevent students from using hi-tech or smart devices to cheat in exams.

He said some 80,000 students sat the chemistry paper and they were perturbed over the incident until the truth was finally out.

The Commissioner said the Examination Department was carrying out an inquiry to find out whether the student had help from any official.

He said that if found guilty, the student would not only be punished, but he would be barred from sitting any public examination conducted by the Department.

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