China is undertaking a no-nonsense approach in preventing cheating in its biggest college entrance exams.
This week, more than 9.4m students sat The National Higher Education Entrance Examination – commonly known as “gaokao” – in Beijing.
The exam, which runs for nine hours spread over two days, sees students complete in math, Chinese, a foreign language like English, Japanese, or French, and two optional subjects in the arts and sciences.
While performing well in the exams is certainly something the country’s public security authorities take seriously, so too is cheating, which can see culprits serve a prison sentence of up to seven years.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that the exam’s test papers were delivered under heavy guard – by police SWAT teams.
However, it doesn’t end there.
In each test centre, at least eight police officers stand guard, vigilantly watching for any signs of foul play, including substitute exam sitters or any wireless devices.
Drones have also been deployed to keep a watchful eye on the exams, using 360-degree rotations to scan exam halls and pinpoint the exact location of suspicious radio signals.
.Xiong Bingqi – an expert at China's 21st Century Education Research Institute – told Reuters that China would continue a hard line against cheaters and the scams that aid them.
“There's absolutely no doubt,” Bingqi said.
“Cheating on the gaokao exam diminishes the exam’s authoritativeness, and could even impact the credibility of the government. The government will take a whole series of measures to prevent that.”
Most students spend their entire senior year studying for the high-stakes exam, which determines which university students will attend, and what major they’ll be able to select.
However, despite the large number of students sitting the exam – and putting their years’ worth of study to use – less than 0.2% of them will get into their country’s top five universities.