SQA under fire for letting exam cheats off easy


SCOTLAND’S exam board has come under fire after it was revealed that 91 pupils caught cheating were let off with just a warning.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) revealed that 91 pupils out of 324 who were caught cheating did not face any sanctions last year.

Offences ranged from plagiarism and collusion to students using mobile phones to access the answers.

Exam body under fire
Exam body under fire

More than 300 incidents of cheating were discovered by the SQA in 2012 however it insists that “only a tiny minority” cheat.

Students disagree however and some have even claimed on social media that cheating is not unusual.

Some pupils cited their stories on social media.

One user wrote: “Many people in Standard Grade found it SO easy to cheat! People had notes in their dictionary, on their arm, a copy of their writing on their desk or just copied from their iPod.

“Only one person I know got caught.”

Another added: “In Chemistry we were doing written qualitative papers so there were three to a table each of us sitting opposite.

“When we needed to check an answer all we did was write the question number on a rubber and pass it to your partner. They would simply just put up their question paper (double sided) so it looked like you were just reading your paper.”

The revelations have sparked outrage amongst education commentators.

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “ It will be a matter of great concern to parents, pupils and teachers to learn that so many pupils believe that it is easy to cheat in exams and that there are insufficient sanctions to address the problem.”

She continued: “That is grossly unfair on the hard-working and honest majority and I would urge the SQA to review its procedures.”


Neil Bibby, Labour’s deputy education spokesman said that most people would be suprised by how lightly cheating was being dealt with.

He said: “We need to ensure cheating is dealt with robustly when it is discovered so that our exam system has our full confidence and pupils are given a clear message that it is not acceptable.”

Last year there were 324 cases of cheating caught by the exam body.

It says that 138 pupils caught had their external marks cancelled.

More than 50 students had their final grades revised and 44 were given a warning and lost their right to appeal if they were unhappy with their result.

The SQA said that the number caught cheating was slightly up on 2011, when 317 cases were discovered.

Eric Martinez, the SQA’s director of operations said: “A tiny minority of pupils engage in malpractice. It is totally unacceptable and the SQA continues to work with schools and colleges to ensure the zero-tolerance approach to malpractice is applied.”