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Editorial: Cheating in Japan college admissions test shows need for new, modern rules

Questions from the Common Test for University Admissions in Japan have leaked during the actual exam. A university student who reportedly unknowingly received the exam paper questions via an online video phone app solved them and sent them back.

    While police were embarking on investigating the case on suspicion of obstruction to business by fraudulent means, a 19-year-old woman came forward on Jan. 27 to say she had been involved in the leak.

    This kind of leak is unprecedented in the history of the tests, including during its previous guise as the National Center Test for University Admissions. Work needs to be expedited to uncover the detailed method of cheating, such as how the images were taken, as well as the motive. The national government must devise a plan to prevent recurrences.

    The case came to light when the university student suspected foul play after the exam, and contacted the National Center for University Entrance Examinations. They reportedly said that a person claiming to be a female second-year high school student that they met via a tutoring intermediary website had asked them to solve the exam problems.

    Malicious use of the internet to cheat on entrance exams has taken place in the past, too.

    During the second-stage examination at Kyoto University in 2011, a cram school student was arrested by Kyoto Prefectural Police after he allegedly used his mobile phone during the test to post exam questions on an online message board.

    In response to that incident and other cases, each university has investigated possible responses, but fundamental preventative countermeasures have not been found.

    In the common test, rules require students to turn off electronic devices such as smartphones and place them in their bags.

    But in recent years, wearable devices such as glasses and wristwatches with cameras are being sold at cheaper prices, making it even harder to detect cheating.

    Some venues have more than 4,000 examinees, making it unrealistic to do checks of people's belongings and of their person.

    In the end, we must rely on the patrols of examination proctors, but this runs the risk of reducing examinees' concentration if done to excess.

    In response to this most recent cheating method, the government must notify proctors of what points they should pay attention to for preventing dishonest actions being overlooked.

    In examinations overseas, bringing smartphones into test venues is itself forbidden, and some testing locations even have security cameras installed. How far prevention measures should be taken should be considered based on the views of relevant people and the cost implications. A wide-ranging discussion must be had.

    The vast majority of examinees engage honestly with tests. To ensure actions that compromise the trustworthiness of admissions tests are not repeated, we want extensive thought to go into prevention measures.

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