Chinese students claim they have been branded cheats after changes to the test needed to enter US universities. From this week, the US-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) is switching to paper-based exams in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, because it suspects students had been scoring well on the computer-based version by memorising questions given to them by their peers. In the Graduate Record Exam's (GRE) paper-based test, no questions will be repeated. 'Most people study for themselves, so the percentage of cheats is not especially big,' said Lu Jie, a graduate of Tsinghua University in Beijing who took the GRE in March and hopes to study international relations at the University of Pittsburgh. 'There was no convincing evidence of problems.' The changes have sparked frustrated discussion on campuses and in Internet forums. 'The sudden change in ETS' policy makes many students, who have prepared for the computer-based test for a long time and planned to take it in September or October, take the paper-based exam in November without adequate preparation,' a fourth-year Beijing Broadcasting Institute student said. 'What's worse, they have no time to prepare the materials for [college] application this year and will have to postpone the application to 2003.' Also this autumn, the exam's analytical section will require essay answers instead of multiple-choice. 'The level of difficulty will probably go up,' Mr Lu said. 'Non-native speakers will have to spend more time preparing.' Over the past two years 25,000 mainland applicants have taken the GRE. About 400,000 students worldwide take the test every year. But some students said they were happy that cheats would have less of a chance on the GRE, meaning fewer would go to US schools only to fall behind. Students who worked hard could gain high marks and the respect of admissions committees, said Peking University German studies major Guo Ruiling. ETS external communications director Thomas Ewing maintained that the GRE board had found evidence of cheating, which 'ruined the validity of the test for the purpose of helping students from these countries gain admission to American universities'. 'We realise that not all Chinese students access these questions in advance or use these Web sites,' he said. 'However, those that do and who post the answers in advance are ruining it for the many honest test takers.'