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Man erases answer to a test question. (iStockphoto.com)

Canadian Men Allegedly Used Hidden Camera To Cheat On Med School Exam

by Scott Hensley
Jun 1, 2011

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Premed students have long had a reputation, sometimes deserved, for cutthroat competition in the quest for top grades and test scores. Now, there are high tech ways to get an edge that nobody could have dreamed up even a few years ago.

Two men in British Columbia face criminal charges for an elaborate scheme that allegedly used a pinhole camera, wireless transmitter and a group of unwitting students to cheat on the MCAT, the standardized test that's used by most medical schools in making admissions decisions.

In the alleged scam, one man took the test in Victoria, B.C., and beamed images of the test questions to his accomplice at the University of British Columbia, the CBC reports. The accomplice put the questions to a group of people who thought they were being considered for jobs as MCAT tutors.

The prospective tutors had been told they would have to take a couple of tryout exams to see if they were up to snuff. During a second test, which was given at the same time as a real MCAT exam in January, two of tutors got suspicious when they saw the man on their end of the scheme talking to someone on a headset, the Vancouver Sun reported, citing court documents. The poor image quality of the test questions shown to them on a computer screen also raised eyebrows.

When the main confederate left the room where the tutors were gathered, they checked on the Internet and figured out the MCAT was being administered that day and saw signs the guy had been accessing a pinhole camera on the computer, according to the CBC. They called university security and played along, giving incorrect answers to the questions from then on, though.

What's unusual here is not the technology as much as the allegation that the perpetrators conned the people into answering the questions for them, Teddi Fishman of the Rutland Institute for Ethics told CBC Radio One's On the Island.

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