Revealed: How kids cheat at exams

Hundreds of students sitting their NCEA exams last year were found cheating - taking in cellphones, extra notes and even having someone else sit the exam for them.

In a report released by the NZ Qualifications Authority, a total of 298 pupils were found to have breached exam rules. That figure has dropped dramatically from the 425 in 2012.

All the cases from last year were investigated by the Authority, which found that 273 were substantiated.

The nature of breaches range from dishonest practice, failure to follow instructions, authenticity or impersonation and influencing / assisting or hindering.

Among the 24 cases of dishonest practice, 12 pupils had been using a cellphone to access answers during an examination and eight people had brought in extra notes.

There were 21 cases of issues surrounding authenticity - including the impersonation of students - and eight people had very similar answers.

A spokeswoman for the NZQA said they would be unable to comment further about the breaches - particularly as focusing on a particular region could identify a student.

However, the report reveals that an independent contractor is brought in and makes recommendations on decisions.

"When NZQA receives a report of a possible breach, an investigation is initiated. A letter is sent to the person or persons involved, accompanied by copies of any relevant information or reports about the possible breach.

"The person is invited to make a written comment to NZQA. Investigation may include consultation with the school or other agencies and or face-to-face meeting with the person concerned."

Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said the system had tightened up over the years and students knew that.

"You've got to be pretty gutsy to take a cellphone out in an exam. The kids know that things are more closely scrutinised."

Mr Parsons, principal at Queen Charlotte College in Picton, said teenagers sometimes found the pressure of performing well just too much.

"Students are competitive. There's a lot of parental pressure on them, a lot of family pressure and school pressure. Some students are just not resilient and can't handle it, so they resort to cheating."

Mr Parsons said young people caught in breach of the rules were often those who didn't need to cheat in the first place.

"I had a kid one year who was found cheating. I looked at his paper and said to him: 'You could've done this easily. Why did you do this'?

"He said he knew he could do the exam, but he was just under so much pressure."

- By Vaimoana Tapaleao of the New Zealand Herald

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