It’s a given: With any high-pressure exam, there are bound to be a few cheaters. However, the dishonest ones in this country are proving to be particularly tricky to weed out – especially when the test graders are abroad. Chinese students are in the habit of using substitute test takers, also known as “sharpshooters” to help them sit the gaokao, but also for the TOEFL and IELTS–two tests normally required to go abroad to study.
This article by Southen Weekend (and translated by China Geeks) follows a Tongji University graduate student, Du Mou, who is a sharpshooter specializing in English-language tests. Hiring someone like Du is expensive–he’ll sit it for you to the tune of 20,000RMB. But for that price, he’ll guarantee a good mark and handle all of the paperwork, including the forging of an identity card.
Sharpshooters like Du are extremely easy to find. It’s “as simple as running a Baidu search for “TOEFL test-taker.” and hundreds of websites immediately pop up advertising these services. With such widespread cheating, it’s developed into a serious headache for foreign educational bodies and though they’ve tightened up security measures at testing sites, many students who use dishonest means are still flying under the radar.
In 2000, ETS sent a letter to all American universities suggesting that they carefully examine all admission documents originating from the Chinese mainland relating to the GRE and TOEFL exams.
The British Consulate General has said, “In view of the enormous scale of operations [that take place in China] and their complexity, we invest a great amount of resources in this area in order to ensure there is fairness in upholding our strict standards.”
In 2001, the German embassy established a department solely to investigate students interested in traveling abroad to Germany. They passed on those costs to the students (an application fee is 2500 RMB) and stipulate that should the documents initially submitted require further investigation, the applicant will agree to pay another fee as well as provide all diplomas, certificates and transcripts. Applicants many also be required to attend a face-to-face interview and it’s only the mainland Chinese students who are required to undergo such procedures.
Hm, kind of sounds like the general visa situation too.