The Baccalauréat, often known simply as the ‘Bac’, is taken by most French 18-year-olds at the end of their time at lycée, or upper secondary school, and is viewed as one of the world’s most rigorous school exams. But the pressure to succeed combined with the spread of mobile technology has led to a reported surge of foul play.
20 Minutes reports estimates of a rise of 24% in the number of candidates suspected of cheating between 2009 and 2010. According to an education ministry spokesman there were 272 cases investigated in 2010.
This is just the tip of the iceberg according to many students. Alexandre tells 20 Minutes “for the geography exam in 2010 I had to learn twelve different maps so I photographed them and then looked at them on my mobile phone. The two invigilators for the 50 candidates didn’t see a thing.” In an economics exam he explains that he went to the toilets and “wrote the question into Google” to get help.
The Education ministry is taking steps to deal with the problem by publishing guidelines. It recommends that phones should be switched off and either collected by invigilators or put in students’ bags. Other measures under consideration by the department include banning cheats from any future exams.
Sadly for Alexandre, the cheating didn’t make a huge difference. He laments that he still only managed a score of 7/20 in his geography exam and 9/20 for economics.