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Chinese Officials Use Drone to Stop Cheating on Exam


A security guard use a metal detector to check students arriving for the annual Gaokao or national college entrance exam held at a school in Beijing, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A security guard use a metal detector to check students arriving for the annual Gaokao or national college entrance exam held at a school in Beijing, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Chinese officials are taking high-tech action against high-tech cheaters on the national college entrance test. In recent years, some students have used hidden electronic devices to communicate during the test. In an effort to stop them, administrators in one city took an unusual step. They used a drone, or small aircraft without a pilot. The drone flew over two testing centers in Luoyang City in central China's Henan province. The drone was looking for unusual signals being sent to wireless devices.

Mr Lan, who only gave his last name, is an official from Louyang’s Radio Supervision and Regulation Bureau. He said the drone cost hundreds of thousands of yuan, or tens of thousands of U.S. dollars. He said the drone was as big as a pump at a gasoline station. Officials said that a large number of electronic signals over a testing center could mean that students were cheating by sending electronic messages during the exam.

A Henan province news website said that the drone recorded no unusual signals on the first day of the test.

Nine million students will take the college entrance exam, which started last Sunday. The test is known in China as the gaokao. This important test can greatly affect a young person's future. The test results are used to decide which kind of university a student can attend. Those with the highest scores have the best chance for getting into an elite university.

Students spend months cramming, or studying intensely, in order to get the highest possible score. Many parents travel to the cities where the tests are given. They stay with their children during the exam, which can last two or three days. Students who do not do well on the test enter regional universities. Students who do not pass the exam usually have two choices. They can repeat a year of school and retake the test, or try to find a factory job.

Cheating is common because of the high risk and high pressure connected to the exam. Local media have reported on the problem of “surrogate” test-taking. A surrogate is someone who does another person’s work. Talented students from poor families can earn large amounts of money taking the college entrance exam for students who can pay. More recently, students have been using wireless devices to get answers during the test.

The Education Ministry said Saturday that it had arrested 23 people for trying to cheat since last May. Students who are caught cheating can be blocked from taking the test for three years.

I'm Pete Musto.

The Associated Press reported this story. Adam Brock adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

drone n. an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers

wireless adj. sending and receiving electronic signals by using radio waves

elite adj. the people who have the most wealth and status in a society

cramv. to study intensively over a short period of time just before an examination

surrogateadj. a person or thing that takes the place or performs the duties of someone or something else

Now it's your turn. Is cheating a problem in schools near you? How do the schools discourage cheating? Write to us in the comments section.

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