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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May 2008, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
'James Bond' drive to catch exam cheats
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Person taking an exam
Boxes of exam papers are fitted with radio frequency ID tags
Exam bosses think a "James Bond-style" approach to security will stop students from cheating in their GCSEs and A-Levels this summer.

The Edexcel exam board has reported a big drop in serious incidents after a high tech tracking and anti-copying system was trialled last year.

The exam board's boss, Jerry Jarvis, said the measures are now being rolled out across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He said: "80 per cent of students who cheat get caught anyway and it's devastating when they do get caught.

Smuggling gadgets

"The chances of cheating and getting away with it have gone down again as far as we are concerned."

Over a million students take GCSE and A-Levels each year.

A total of 4,258 candidates were caught cheating in 2007 - a quarter for smuggling gadgets like mobile phones into tests.

Twenty four schools were warned about giving students help with tough questions.

There have also been cases of stolen exam papers being offered for sale on the black market.

High tech approach

Edexcel said it now hides the name of the school in microscopic writing on its exam papers so they can be traced back to the original teacher in charge.

Boxes of papers are also fitted with radio frequency identification tags which can be scanned to make sure the bags have not been tampered with.

But the board decided against a more sophisticated system where exam papers are shipped in a lockable box which can only be opened electronically after receiving a mobile phone call from head office.

Plagiarism drive

Exam boards are also using more sophisticated computer software to check coursework has not been copied from library books or the internet.

Edexcel has signed up to a system called Turnitin which compares coursework with thousands of web pages, journals and books stored in its database and produces an "originality" report.

All the main exam boards will start using the same system this summer.

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