Apple Watch ratchets up cheating fears at universities

“The Apple Watch, along with other wearable technology, is forcing a number of universities and colleges to institute bans on the technology to curb potential cheating on exams and tests,” Larissa Garza reports for The Phoenix Business Journal.

“While no university in Arizona has instituted such bans on wearable tech, the Chronicle for Higher Education reports that universities in Australia have recently placed restrictions on smart watches,” Garza reports. “The University of New South Wales also banned wristbands during exams.”

Garza reports, “In the U.S. students taking the GRE, SAT and ACT are also not allowed to have any technology, including smart watches”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Cheaters think everyone cheats. Liars think everyone lies. Keep this in mind. – Unknown

Universities banning all watches from exams because of Apple Watch – February 6, 2015
Schools say iPods becoming tool for cheaters – April 27, 2007

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David E.” for the heads up.]


  1. Is there really a way to send test answers that could easily be accessed from an Apple watch during the test?

    it would be obvious to the blind if someone was perpetually messing with their watch during an exam, under the assumption there is actually a way to send specific data to the screen that you could actually find in seconds to place it on a test… which seems very unlikely to me, seems like unfounded paranoia to me

    1. Multiple choice: 1 “tap” for A, 2 for B, etc.

      The person on the receiving end wouldn’t need to look at their watch. The person sending it could have their arms under the desk top and just tap to use the haptic technology.

  2. Too easy. Entirely inevitable:

    “Class. Please tag and leave your mobile digital devices in the box on the desk before taking your seats. Thank you!”

    India arrests hundreds over Bihar school cheating

    About 300 people have been arrested in the Indian state of Bihar, authorities say, after reports emerged of blatant cheating in school exams.

    Parents and friends of students were photographed climbing school walls to pass on answers.

    Many of those arrested were parents. At least 750 students have been expelled.
    (o_O) (O_o) 👳👶😲

    1. Actually first heard of the India cheating on a Japanese program my parent’s were watching.. 😛 They even drew a simple cartoon too show the lengths the parents were going to hand cheat sheets to their children.

  3. There are a number of university programs in the world in which your final exam is an Oral exam. For example, a doctor seeking his license will sit in from of a panel of doctors, and be grilled on a number of complex questions and scenarios . . . Kind of difficult to cheat on a test like that . . . My point: every time a university complains about students cheating on tests, maybe we should question why we have such a lame testing system (multiple choice, etc.). If “future” jobs require creativity, problem solving skills, and project management, why do we have a testing system out of the 20th century?

    1. Answer: Terrible multiple choice tests empower bureaucrats and corporate drones and provide largely useless “metrics” that can be used to establish the market value of a school, and thus prop up inflated real estate prices (which also helps keep de facto segregation in place).
      The kind of oral exam you describe empowers actual educators who work with students. People who actually think instead of regurgitating memorized answers tend to question the status quo, which is anathema to those who benefit the most from the current system.

      tl;dr: Actual education is bad for the plutocrats in charge of everything. Rote memorization is good for them because it produces drones to serve in their corporate systems.

      1. I disagree. Research has proven that oral examination (also called an interview) is by far the least reliable method of assessing someone’s knowledge of some matter. Mainly because the interview panel often subconsciously picks up irrelevant cues (dress, posture, race, gender) which introduce strong biases into the grading and evaluation.

        Multiple-choice test has repeatedly been confirmed to be the most accurate and reliable method of testing specific knowledge on some matter. It eliminates personal biases, and avoids subjective assessment of an open-ended answer. The human element is completely removed from the assessment process and the only factor in the quality of test is the test itself — the design of questions and the four answer choices (i.e. avoiding choices that are obviously wrong, where the correct answer can easily be guessed by eliminating obviously incorrect ones).

        Properly written multiple-choice questions can successfully test actual understanding of the material, instead of testing for rote memorisation. With the oral examination, you never know, because the result depends entirely on the subjective assessment by the examiner at the moment of the exam. If the same testing candidate answered the same question with the same answer as the first candidate in a group of 20, then again as the last of the 20, he would likely get two different grades from the same examiner, due to all the irrelevant factors related to the two circumstances (fatigue, change of criteria after hearing 20 other candidates answering questions, etc, etc, etc). There is a scientific reason why multiple-choice tests have been adopted to evaluate knowledge in schools around the world: they are most accurate and most reliable.

        1. At my school (for training analysts in Medical Imaging and Radio Therapy) we use a mix of MC-questions and open questions in written tests. Besides that all students are individually coached and they are all grilled in 1-on-1 oral/practical tests by teachers who are each experts in their respective fields. This way nobody escapes through loopholes and the diploma retains its value. We can do this because this particular line of education is heavily regulated by our government. This is not the case with, say, a communications school. So, MC-tests have their place in the grand scheme of things, but they can only be a part of the overall testing system.

          Related to krioni’s comment:
          Virtually all education in NL/EU has for a while now been concentrated in large quango’s, each governing large numbers of schools, financed by gov. But gov refuses to supervise them (medical departments e.g. excepted) and has virtually eliminated its own school inspectors. Also, schools get paid for a large part per student leaving the school with a diploma. We call this the “Perverse Incentive”, put into place by our conservative gov that wants to see education being run commercially, or something like it. What can possibly go wrong here?
          Well, it has led to an endless string of scandals where school boards, consisting of people without any interest in education, simply took the money and spent it on megalomanic building projects, left schools completely defunct, tried to eliminate all (considered mouthy) academics, degraded education quality where possible, making business trips all over the world, etc. etc.
          The latest is a school board that bankrupted its own school by ordering a new overly expensive building. Gov now plans to bail them out for €40M (for starters), otherwise the 6000+ students would be kicked out onto the streets without a chance of finding another school. School boards of this kind like MC-testing very much, because they think it’s cheap and it provides them with the kind of baked statistics they like to wave at their peers and gov. Also they like to embrace new educational ideologies* which they think will make education even more cheap. This has, for instance, after several decades, resulted in a severe lack of arithmetic skills in students and by now in new teachers as well. This has forced gov’s hand into setting new higher standards for arithmetic skills in primary education and its teacher training institutes. This was recently done cold turkey, and a whole host of students was let go from their training institutes because they suddenly had to do arithmetic which they never expected to have to deal with.
          I’m just boiling down to the essence of the current problem in NL/EU, which krioni happened to characterise so very nicely above.

          * called The New Learning

        2. I partially agree with you, Predrag: interviews can be influenced by the biases of educators. But, unfortunately, so are multiple choice exams (which you obliquely address when you say “the quality of test is the test itself”). Quite a bit of research has shown that the tests used in the U.S. are biased towards certain demographics, above and beyond innate ability and learning.
          The biggest problem, though, is that multiple-choice exams cause serious unintended consequences. They are much easier to superficially prepare for (“teaching to the test” by special tutors, as opposed to general learning). They produce metrics that differentiate with false precision (is a “95th percentile” school really noticeably better than a “93rd percentile” school, or is that just a way to inflate property values and thus property taxes which fund the school, thus reinforcing segregation?).
          I think part of my argument is that sometimes unwarrantedly precise metrics can lead to bad policy decisions. A major way to fix many problems in education would be to separate school funding from property taxes. Schools in economically worse areas need MORE funding, not less.

  4. Really not a problem. Put your watch in your pocket (unless it’s a real traditional analog) and turn your phone off before putting it in your pocket of backpack.

  5. Our digital tools are an extension of the mind. Perhaps we should instead be testing on a much deeper level.

    Right now we test without tools, to determine whether a basic set of concepts are understood from memory. Could there be a way to determine if we understand a concept in conjunction with how to use our tools to the fullest of their capabilities?

    It seems somewhat counterintuitive to be giving people the impression that they will do just about anything without the assistance of technological tools. This could be one reason there are so many tech illiterate people out there.

    There has to be a happy medium that enforces the understanding of concepts and use of advanced tools.

    I could go on all day about various areas where the entire education system is lacking, but even so, you would have to be very clever to cheat using an apple watch. It has limited input that does not involve Siri, all the information would need to be recorded in advance using formats compatible with the watch. Of course more apps are coming, but with the apps I use on it currently and most fields of study, there’s not really even an opportunity there.

    1. To me, though, the fact that we don’t allow students to use their devices as part of learning and testing just tells me we are doing something wrong. We have an opportunity to teach students more advanced things by maximizing their capabilities with these tools, rather than teaching them archaic ways of doing things and demonizing the tools. An ideal test should still be difficult even with an iMac sitting right in front of you, because it should test your more advanced capabilities than what we can do on our own.

      1. I can accept the use of advanced tools for test taking if the test is constructed to track how that advanced tool is being used to take the test. Any disconnect in tracking use should disallow the device automatically.

  6. I produced exams for my students that were individual and open book. Any type of technology was allowed in the exam but there was only time enough for students who actually knew and understood the material to write the answers. Cheaters mostly would fail or get very low marks and were easily caught if they spoke to another student.

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