English tests tainted by cheating scandals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 12:00am

At least seven people suspected of cheating in national English examinations have been detained in Beijing, while education authorities conduct a separate investigation into how test questions and answers were leaked on the internet.

The Beijing Evening News reported that five of those detained had hired fellow students from the same Haidian district university to sit the College English Test (CET) in their place. Two of the stand-in students were detained, the report added, without saying what happened to the three others.

The seven were accused of possessing fake identification cards. The detentions came amid a scandal over the publication of CET questions and answers on a popular website, www.mop.com. The CET is the most prominent English proficiency test held by the government. More than 6 million people, mostly college students, participated last weekend.

Yesterday's edition of the Beijing Star Daily said the Ministry of Education was concerned about the leak of the Band 4 CET questions and Band 6 answers hours before Saturday's tests.

The testing centre admitted that at least 80 per cent of the questions published on the website were included in the exams.

Although there have been leaks of the Band 4 CET in the past two years, a testing centre official was quoted by Xinhua as saying this was the first time that the Band 6 exam had been compromised.

'There have been too many people involved in the organisation of the two tests, which makes the leakage of exam questions more likely,' said the official.

In light of the scandals, two Shanghai professors suggested it was time to cancel the tests as they could no longer help improve national language skills, the Xinmin Evening News reported.

At least seven people, most of them college teachers, were jailed last year for leaking the Band 4 exam paper, Xinhua said.