China Is Using Drones to Stop Students Cheating in Exams

By Lu Chen
Lu Chen
Lu Chen
June 9, 2015 Updated: June 9, 2015

Rampant cheating in the annual university entrance exams have been a headache for Chinese educational ministry for years.

Airborne drones are used this year to fight against cheating in what many Chinese netizens are calling the “strictest exam in history.”

The gaokao, or China’s national college entrance exam notorious for its high stress levels, will see 9.4 million high school students nationwide participating this year. The exams began June 7 and last three days.

The six-propeller drones are being used at the exam centers in the central Chinese city of Luoyang, Henan Province, according to state-run China News. It can fly as high as 500 meters (1640 ft) to detect any suspicious signals sent through devices that may be smuggled into the exam centers.

Each drone costs tens of thousands of dollars, Chinese news reports said.

The drone is much more advanced than the ground monitoring equipments used in the past, said Lan Zhigang, director of Luoyang’s Radio Supervision and Regulation Bureau. The drone can cover a larger area from the air, and can effectively avoid physical obstacles, Lan said.

Students taking the exam in other provinces are also subject to strict security measures.

The gaokao exam being the difference between rags and riches, cheating methods China abound—wireless communication devices, hiring professional test-takers, and selling supposed answers before the exam, to name a few. Cheating devices can be easily found on Chinese online stores, such as watches that can save and display articles and formulas, or earphones that can receive wireless signals.  

On June 6, Chinese police arrested an instructor at an art training school in Harbin City of northern China’s Heilongjiang Province, for selling cheating equipment, state-run China Youth Online reported. The teacher sold erasers that can receive wireless signals, since this May, making over 40,000 yuan ($6,443) off his students, the report says.

After the first day of exams on June 7, two hired test-takers were caught and arrested in Nanchang City and Yingtan City of southeast China’s Jiangxi Province, according to China News. To pre-empt “hired guns,” as the professional examinees are termed in Chinese slang, the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau collected the fingerprint information of all examinees during registration to be later verified when they entered the testing centers, according to state-run Yangcheng Evening News.

China’s Education Ministry says students caught cheating in the national entrance exam can be suspended from attempting the exam again for up to three years.

Lu Chen
Lu Chen