Educational authorities in central China’s Hubei Province said Monday they have busted four “cheating syndicates” on the first day of this year’s national university entrance examination. According to state news agency Xinhua, 23 people were arrested in Hubei for using radio signals to help students cheat. Four radio transmitters and over 40 receivers were confiscated.

This year 9.42 million high school graduates across the country are taking the annual three-day exam, the result of which will dictate what university they go to. With stakes running high, some students hire ghostwriters to help them score higher in the fate-deciding test. Some use ultraviolet (UV) markers to write answers on their bodies. Others wear wires on them in covert places to receive answers through radio signals sent by helpers on standby.

A watch and a UV marker used by students to cheat. Photo:

Educational officials across the nation are adamant in finding and stopping cheaters. In Beijing, students were told they could not wear Apple Watch in exam rooms for fear it could be used as a cheating tool. In Henan Province, authorities used drones to monitor radio signals around exam halls on Sunday.

Henan authorities used drones to bust exam cheaters. Photo:

For years the college entrance exam has been set on June 7-9. The topic tends to dominate public discussion and news headlines for days before and after. Local governments often enforce traffic control around exam rooms to help create a quiet environment for test takers. Hotels around schools usually get a business boost thanks to parents who rent the rooms for their kids to rest or study in between exams.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.