Should mobile phones be allowed in exam halls?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2006, 12:00am

Nicolas Wong Hei, 17 Sing Yin Secondary School

No, I don't think so. One of the most important elements of a public exam is that it is fair. Allowing students to bring mobile phones into exam halls will only cause trouble.

Some candidates may use the phone to secretly send answers to their friends. The receiver can then take a toilet break to check the message.

Students who have a mobile phone may also get vital information from the Web.

Those without a phone are less likely to cheat.

Although mobile phones are supposed to be switched off in exam halls, many students have complained about ringing handsets. This is unfair because the noise may disturb students. If this affects students' concentration and they get less marks, will they be compensated?

People may say candidates need mobile phones to find their way to the examination centre. This is different from allowing them to bring in mobile phones into the exam hall. They should be able to leave their handsets in a safe place and collect them after the exam.

If there is an emergency, I am sure the examiner would be happy to allow a candidate to take a call.

Mobile phones should be banned from exam halls because there is no guarantee that students won't use them to cheat, while they can also prove to be a nuisance to other candidates.

Phoenix Lee Ching-kwan, 18 Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

Yes, definitely. Why should all Hong Kong students come under suspicion because of an isolated incident of cheating?

With technological progress, there will always be new ways to cheat. In the past, students hid tiny pieces of paper in their pockets or stationery boxes. But did we ever ban students from bringing stationery into exam halls? No, because we knew it wouldn't work.

In the same way, mobile phones are not intended for cheating - it is simply a tool for communication. Some people may use this new technology for dishonest purposes, but they are a minority.

Besides, banning mobile phones from exam halls is impractical. Anyone who has sat for a public exam knows the importance of carrying a handset - to contact parents in case they forgot their admission form or to connect with friends after the exam.

If invigilators collect mobile phones before the start of an exam, how much time will it take? Besides, how do they identify the phones? And how could they make sure that each student only has one phone?

Examiners may have to conduct a body search at the entrance to the hall. This would be a humiliating experience for candidates just before one of the most significant moments in their lives.

The key to this issue is mutual trust between the examinations authority and candidates. There is also a long-term solution: cultivating a correct attitude towards exams among local teenagers.