Will your A level Exams be Microchipped?

Photo of author
Written By Dr Shane McKeown

For the first time in the UK A-level papers are to be microchipped this summer. This is in an effort to combat the recent rise in leaks from exam boards that have led prosecutors to consider criminal charges.

In the modern era of social media and instant communication, any release of upcoming questions can severely disrupt exam plans. The news comes from exam board owner Pearson, which owns Edexcel. Derek Richardson, the President of Pearson has written to headteachers to let them know of the changes to both GCSEs and A levels.

The oft cited issues with exam papers in recent years started with the release of Edexcel Maths questions in online auction websites 2 years ago. The police were called in to try and manage the situation as reports came in of papers being sold for hundreds of pounds the night before exams were scheduled.


Digital A level Challenges

As the world operates in an increasingly digital arena, traditional institutions are slowly beginning to catch up. Uncertainty with Brexit has prompted changes within exam boards to be more adaptable. Papers used to be printed around Europe, sometimes months in advance, before being shipped to distribution centres prior to the exam date. Now the UK is becoming equipped with digital distribution to deal with modern day challenges.

In 2017 last minute changes had to be made to a leaked exam paper to ensure fairness for everyone. Another exam board, AQA, were forced to give full marks for certain questions in a recent Chemistry A level as again the details has been made public. Digital distribution is being utilised to try and mitigate the logistical concerns around potential future leaks. It is hoped that last minute changes can be implemented more easily and make the illegal activity less financially damaging.


Real Life Consequences for online A level Cheats

The Metropolitan Police have now begun to build a case for prosecution aimed at the leaks carried out in recent years. A spokesperson for Pearson said:

“In the UK summer examination series in 2017 and 2018, Pearson was subject to a limited external breach of its maths A-level paper. The police have made progress in their investigation from the first limited breach and have referred the first case to the Crown Prosecution Service.”

“The individuals responsible for these incidents are therefore now being held to account for the disruption that they caused. The police are finalising the second case and we hope that they will soon be sending materials to the Crown Prosecution Service.”

A leak of a single question can mean exam disruption but whole sections or complete papers being leaked costs exam boards thousands. Police and exam boards have agreed to enforce the new exam microchipping scheme this summer with the hopes of minimising disruption for the vast majority of students who do not participate in cheating.



Excellence in Application

Leave a comment