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Cheating the exam system

Earlier this year, the image of friends and relatives scaling a building to pass answer <g data-gr-id="35">chits</g> to young 10 standard examinees in Bihar went viral on the internet. Cheating in exams isn’t something new. The process is as old as time itself. However, the sheer scale and organisation with which cheating is conducted in exams across the country is what continues to catch the public eye. On Monday, the apex court declared the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) held on May 3 to be null and void and ordered the Central Board for Secondary Education to conduct a retest for lakhs of students within four weeks. 

The court had found the examination process to be rigged by tech-savvy students who cheated in the examination by getting answers to questions through electronic devices they smuggled into test centres across the country. The court’s judgement comes after certain AIPMT candidates and an activist filed a petition, asking for the exam to be annulled. For those unaware, the AIPMT is among the most prestigious entrance examination for medicine in India and performs as a custodian to 15 percent of seats in almost all government medical college. The other seats are filled through state-level entrance exams. “The possibility of leaning towards unfair means may also be the ultimate fallout,” the court said, noting the importance of maintaining the sanctity of the examination process. 

“Even if, one undeserving candidate, a beneficiary of such illegal machination, though undetected is retained in the process it would be in denial of, the claim of more deserving candidates.” Despite the apex court’s contention, it is no surprise why candidates may want to cheat their way to success, given that lakhs of candidates compete for a few thousand seats in government medical colleges. According to leading newspaper, 99.4 percent of all AIPMT candidates fail each year. Such figures do not justify the scale of cheating involved. These figures only point to the possible reasons why students may want to cheat.  

If the candidate has the requisite amount of money, the use of technology is one way of rigging the game in his/her favour. Bluetooth devices, Whatsapp, other electronic devices stitched onto customised t-shirts and even turbans have been used to bypass authorities in examination halls. However, to cheat in such tests or exams, a candidate cannot achieve anything of note without an organised racket behind it. In certain cases, the authorities involved in conducting these tests are complicit in the cheating process. In its submission to the apex court, the police found that a team of doctors and MBBS students had solved the AIPMT question paper at Behror in Alwar district of Rajasthan. 

The answers of 90 of 123 questions were subsequently transmitted through mobile phones to students, who had paid between Rs 15 lakh and 20 lakh each. To combat the use of technology, only better technology can come to the aid of authorities. According to news reports in June, the Chinese city in Henan is considering deploying drones to detect radio interference within a kilometre radius of each test centre. Maybe, as a pilot project, certain state and central education bodies could deploy drones outside their examination centres. 
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