Should mobile phones be allowed in exam halls?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2007, 12:00am

Nicolas Wong Hei, 17

Sing Yin Secondary School

One of the most important fundamental elements of a public exam is that it is fair. Allowing mobile phones in exam halls would definitely cause unfairness.

Some expert mobile users can surely type and send messages just by putting their hand in their pocket without looking at the phone. Then the receiver can go to the toilet and read the answers. Then there is internet surfing.

If candidates do not have mobile phones with them it is less likely they will cheat even if they want to. Although they may have another way of cheating, a phone ban is undoubtedly necessary as it is more than a 'talking' machine.

Though the exam authority says phone ringing is not allowed in the exam halls, there are still many reports of this every year. The ringing is a distraction and disturbs the other students. Who is going to compensate the candidate if they get a question wrong because of the ringing?

Candidates put themselves at risk if they bring phones into the exam. They can be failed immediately if caught, so enforcing a ban ensures they are not punished.

Some people say phones should be allowed in case of emergencies. But I am sure the exam centre will lend you a phone if you need to make a call. Also, the centre can inform individual students if someone is calling the centre to contact them in an emergency.

Since we cannot 100 per cent ensure students will not use or get distracted if mobiles are allowed, it's better to ban them in the first place.

Phoenix Lee Ching-Kwan, 18

Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

Why should the honesty of all students be questioned because of an isolated incident of cheating? With ever-advancing technology, of course there are always new ways to cheat.

In the past, students cheated by hiding tiny pieces of paper in their pockets or even had notes written on their stationery. But did they try to ban them from bringing these things into the exam hall? No.

We all know this does not work. There is nothing wrong with having these things; it's a case of how you use them. Under the same rationale, mobile phones are not intended for cheating but as a tool for communication. Of course artful students will make good use of them. But they are the minority. How can we have the preconception that all students are cheaters and impose such an unreasonable measure on them when most have never cheated?

Besides, banning mobile phones in the exam hall is impractical. Anyone who has ever sat an exam knows the importance of having a phone with you that day to contact your parents if you have forgotten your admission form or to connect with friends after the exam. No one can live without it, especially on a such big day.

It would take a long time to collect the phones before the exam, and how would they identify them? And how could they make sure that each student had only one phone?

Mutual trust between the exam authority and candidates is the key to the issue. Cultivating correct attitudes towards exams in teenagers' minds is the long-term solution.