IELTS Cheating | A Global Industry

IELTS Cheating shows dependence on English language testing

It seems that wherever there are tests, there are also people who try to cheat on those tests. 2011 will always be remembered for some of the incredible cheating stories that hit the headlines. The Chinese media reported on high-tech cheating devices and authorities using mobile signal blocking and tracking devices to deter, prevent or capture anyone found using high-tech cheating devices in tests for college entrance tests which are highly competitive.

IELTS Cheating - a dedicated industry

There are similar stories from all over the world. But it was not only cheating by tests takers which made 2011 so famous. It was more the sheer scale of the cheating operations uncovered, including administrators of tests and also teachers and other institutions such as test centers. Never before have so many cheating schemes, plans, devices and scandals been revealed.

Down under and out!

Curtin University, an English language center based in Australia came to light as being involved in 'doctoring' IELTS certificates in return for money from candidates. The center was later closed as a direct result of the cheating scandal. An employee of the center and various others were convicted following a criminal investigation.

Words from the grave

A rapidly expanding area of cheating is often referred to as 'ghost writers', which involves hiring a professional test taker to do a particular test in place of the real test candidate. There have been reports of many 'ghost writers' operating in IELTS centers in Hong Kong. Following these revelations, IELTS administrators assured that their test procedures were now more secure than before.

Cheating goes global

It seems that test cheating is not limited to one country nor one particular test. Test scores are now more than ever linked to opportunities for immigration, study, work and therefore can be equated with a financial value. very often, minimum scores on international English language tests are required in order to obtain a visa for a foreign country such as Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada. These countries are traditionally seen as gateways to a better life for many young professionals and students.

A problem shared is a problem solved

With so much at stake, there are plenty of schemes which cater for people's desires to enter such countries even if their own level of English is not sufficient to obtain the IELTS score necessary. As well as 'ghost writers', India boasts firms which will legally match an 'IELTS girl' who has attained a high IELTS test score but may not have the economic resources to study abroad, to partner with a boy from a rich family who hasn't been able to obtain the required score. As a married couple, she gets a university place and he gets a spousal work permit to enter their country of choice.

When test score become like commodities and for whatever reason a person cannot obtain it legally, there will always be the temptation to try and steal it in one way or another, especially when it can literally change lives. The test score, especially in the case of IELTS, TOEFL and similar language proficiency tests, is simply the means to an end - life in a foreign country, study in a foreign country, a better job, more prestige and recognition.