Gaokao Exam Season – China Uni Entrance Exam Cheats To Get 7-Year Prison

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Jun 08 2016
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Last year when the China’s State Administration of Civil Service announced they would revise Criminal Laws to include cheating in the country’s national servant exams, some laughed and thought the Chinese authorities were merely blowing hot air. The proposed laws would see cheaters sentenced to three-to-seven years in prison.

China Gaokao Exam Hall

Today, the Chinese government is making it official – students who cheat during this year’s university entrance exams in China risk for the first time being jailed. Cheaters will face up to 7 years in jail and be banned from taking other national education exams for 3 years under an amendment to the Criminal Law.


Prior to the harsh law, a cheater in China might have his exam results thrown out. At worse, his family might be subjected to embarrassing scolding. But that’s all about it. Not anymore. As more than 9-million students scrambled into testing centres on Tuesday to take the “gaokao”, China’s national college-entrance examination, officials made clear about the new punishment.

China Gaokao Exam Hall - Students Sitting For Exams

The gruelling test, which is conducted every June over two or three days, is the lone criterion for admission to Chinese universities. Students who get a high score would be guaranteed of a ticket to a renowned university and a high-paying profession, while a low score can bring shame and a future confined to menial jobs.


The exam, which is separated into two versions – one focused on science, the other on humanities – is the modern incarnation of the imperial “keju”, generally regarded as the world’s first standardized test. For more than 1,300 years until the early 20th century, the “keju” funnelled young brilliant and skilful men into China’s civil service.

China Gaokao Exam - Students Carrying Books For Revision

The notoriously hard exam tests high school leavers on their Chinese, Mathematics and English as well as another science or humanities subject of their choice. The “gaokao” exam is so important that some parents would pay professional “gaokao” nannies – highly educated students or recent graduates – to move in with their children to study with them.


Naturally, the exams put excessive pressure on students which lead to suicide tendencies and creative cheating. The education ministry and police have crackdown on wireless devices used to cheat and also the problem of substitute exam sitters. Authorities therefore believe that by dangling the prospect of a harsh punishment in front of the test-takers, it will safeguard the fairness of the tests.

China Gaokao Exam - Cheating with Sophisticated Vest

China Gaokao Exam - Scanning Students With Metal Detector For Metal Bras

Still, critics say a 7-year sentence was too harsh, not to mention some cheaters with deep pocket might get away scot free. Some parents hire companies to transmit answers to their children, who hide devices inside bras on exam day. Others simply bribe local officials to get a peek at the test before it is administered.


Last year in the city of Luoyang, in central China, the authorities used drones to catch people using radios to broadcast answers. But the authorities can only do so much because cheaters are always one step ahead. The cheaters have been creating products like pens equipped with cameras and tank tops outfitted with audio receivers.

China Gaokao Exam - Detecting Cheating with Drones

China Gaokao Exam - Cheating with UltraViolet

The law, enacted in November, 2015, states that people caught cheating or facilitating cheating on national exams could face up to 3 years in prison and a fine for minor cases, or up to 7 years in prison for more serious cases. Those people would also be banned from taking national exams for 3 years.


Gaokao exams have created good business for hotels and transportation sector. Many hotels offer special Gaokao packages for students. In spite of cut-throat price of up to 2,000 Yuan (US$304; £208; RM1,234) per night, most rooms in Beijing hotels are snapped up. Gaokao taxis are in great demand too.

China Gaokao Exam - Students Studying

Nothing beats surrogate exam-takers though. Some wealthy but desperate parents are prepared to pay several million Yuan to hire people to take the Gaokao on behalf of their children. The surrogates used their real photos on forged identity cards with the personal information of the real exam-takers. This is the season for smart but poor college students to earn serious money.


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