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February 19, 2011

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Top exam is threatened by high-tech cheat devices

HIGH-TECH test cheats are threatening the credibility of China's top English exam, which is highly regarded by many employers.

A Shanghai Daily investigation has discovered online vendors offering cheating devices to students preparing for the Test for English Major Band-8 exam early next month.

For 2,000 yuan (US$304) traders will supply short message receivers, hidden in standard erasers, watches and pens, which display text messages.

They also offer discreet earpieces through which users are told answers.

The website,, claims it can obtain TEM-8 test papers from "insiders" at universities 90 minutes before the exam starts.

It boasts that it has hired English teachers and PhD students to complete the papers at safe houses near the universities and then relay the correct answers to cheating students.

"You only have to do the writing section yourself. Leave everything else to us, including the listening comprehension and translation sections," said a customer service worker.

However, even this is seen as a moneymaking option, as the web company claims it can - for an extra fee - supply the topic for the writing section in advance.

The website, which in the past offered cheating services for the lower level College English Test, or CET Band-4 and Band-6 exams, was closed in 2009 after the media exposed its illegal business.

But now it's back and brazenly publishing customer testimonies on its home page to convince students that the cheating devices really work.

Students discovered to be copying the writing section are automatically given a zero score under TEM regulations.

An official with the Testing Service Center of China's Ministry of Education told Shanghai Daily that they would investigate the matter.

However, she denied that the vendors could get hold of test papers in advance.

Police are looking into the case.


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