83% of College Students in China Cheat on Exams

September 8, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: August 21, 2015 5:32 pm

Universities are supposed to be holy palaces in people’s hearts. However, cheating in exams is rampant among China’s universities today. The extension and severity of the cheating have reached to a shocking degree. A recent survey reveals over 80 percent of college students in China admitted having cheated in school. Most of those cheaters have medium or high ranks of their academic performance. According to China Youth Study, a random sample of 892 college students shows that 82.74 percent have had cheated on exams. 8.86 percent have “helped” their classmates to cheat on the exams. 80.66 percent are students whose academic performance rankings are medium or high.

These college students use a wide variety of methods to cheat on exams. They are unimaginably skillful at cheating. They bring written exam notes into the exam rooms, pass answers to other students taking the exam, and use high-tech products as popular tools for cheating. Cell phones are used to send messages and answers to exam takers. In Nanjing the number of hired test-takers taking the Self-Taught Higher Education Examinations held this June and July was higher than last year. During the two-day exam period, fourteen students were exposed as hired test-takers.

The report on the sample further shows that the number of years at school and gender influences attitudes about exam cheating. Generally speaking, more males than females cheat. Female students and freshmen tend to be much more nervous about cheating and getting caught than male students and seniors.

Students are under overwhelming pressure to avoid failing and losing their diplomas. Good students cheat on exams in hopes of receiving awards for higher grades. Thus, both good and bad students can “justify” cheating on exams.

Let’s look at a well-known university in Wuhan city for example.

Each year hundreds of juniors and seniors fail to pass math and science subjects and then fail to pass makeup exams. They end up in the embarrassing situation of being expelled from school or unable to get their diplomas. This phenomenon also puts great pressure on the other students. If students fail to pass the exams, in the next school term they will be charged a large amount of extra money to retake the courses they failed. To avoid this, many college students cheat on exams despite the risk of being caught.

Professor Zhang Xiaoming of the Institute of Education and Science Research Institute at Huazhong University of Science and Technology was asked about the phenomenon of college students cheating on exams. He said, “At present, the college evaluation system is too inflexible. It is basically the acquisition and expansion of the high school evaluation system. Grades are given top priority. Any creative act would be regarded as unusual. Therefore, most college students still subconsciously think about receiving full credit, getting good grades, and being good students.” Many people in positions of power in the Offices of Educational Administration in various colleges and universities explained that though grades are not the only standard used to evaluate students, concrete data are needed as evaluation criteria to choose candidates for scholarships and determine outstanding students. If grades were disregarded, there would be no standard of evaluation. “At any time, grades are hard reasons.” they said.