In several countries, top universities have entrance exams to select their new coming students. As these exams are designed to test students, there’s a chance someone will be trying to cheat. Since exams have a limited amount of time to be done, it is very important that students and candidates have a watch to calculate the time and organize their thinking to get the best from the time. Well, if you look back to the past 40 years or so, digital watches have become increasingly popular, with some of them even having notes, calculator, and other advanced functions – and these features are usually forbidden, of course. However, advanced watches would be easily detected and hardly someone would rely on them to cheat. Enter 2015 and the breed of advanced smartwatches, bundled with all sorts of features such as note taking, calculators, internet connectivity, chat, e-mail, etc., and they mimic the look of classic analog watches. Can you see the problem here? Yes, it is easy as ever to cheat, and some universities are becoming aware of this.
The result is that some top universities will be banning watches as a whole from their exams. Kyoto University, one of the most prestigious in Japan, have just announced that they will be banning any type of watch from their entrance exam, beginning next year, to prevent cheating. The university says that it is difficult to determine if someone is indeed checking the time or cheating, thanks to the proliferation of smartwatches, and each exam room will have a wall clock, instead. University of New South Wales, in Australia, took a more radical approach, mentioning “advances in watch technologies”, and all wrist-worn or handheld watches are prohibited during any exam.
Advancements in technology are usually good for our everyday lives, but sometimes there are consequences that are not calculated by those who bring these advancements. Of course, smartwatches should and will keep evolving, and measures like prohibiting watches on exams are good solutions, as long as alternate means of calculating time are provided. Since smartwatches are just in their early years of existence as a mass market product, it will be interesting to see the reaction of universities and schools around the world regarding the use of watches during exams.