YEAR 12 students are openly swapping cheating tips online as they prepare for their first exam in the Higher School Certificate today.
Despite the threat of being reported to the police or not receiving their HSC, students have been using the forum boredofstudies.org to exchange ideas on the best cheating methods.
Tips included hiding notes in underwear and taking frequent toilet breaks so notes could be examined in privacy.
A user named ''deswa1'' wrote: ''Cheating is actually pretty easy (at least at my school) if you wanna do it … Our supervisors are ancient old ladies who have no clue what's going on lol.''
A male year 12 student who spoke to the Herald last week said he knew students who used the bathroom during exams to cheat.
''It's not that hard to leave the exam room and read over your notes you have in your pocket inside a locked cubicle for a minute or so,'' he said. ''I'm not saying I have done it personally but it's possible and I'm sure many other students have, as I've heard. Two minutes to gain knowledge for a 15-mark question sounds like a good deal to me.''
The chief executive of the Board of Studies NSW, Carol Taylor, has a warning for the note concealers and the ostensibly weak bladdered: presiding officers and supervisors are on to you.
''Supervisors don't ask students to empty their pockets, nor do they search their clothing,'' Ms Taylor said. ''But they are vigilant. They patrol the exam room and if they see any kind of activity going on that they think is suspicious, they will certainly watch that student.''
Toilet breaks are monitored and registered. ''Students are allowed to go to the toilet but they are accompanied by a supervisor when they go to the toilet and each visit is logged in the presiding officer's diary,'' she said.
''If a student is going to the toilet too often and there is no illness that might account for it, then that will be recorded.''
Last year, 10 students were found to have breached the rules, which include taking unauthorised notes into the exam.
Another 28 were found to have supplied a reproduced response, such as memorising an essay from a website and using that in response to an exam question.
The board does not scan exam answers to check for plagiarism as it is usually picked up by markers. But it has other high-tech methods to deter cheats. Last year it introduced tamper-proof packaging and barcodes for papers so they could be tracked.
''We do have to keep coming up with new strategies but, in context, we have over 70,000 students who do over 500,000 papers, so the number of students who are penalised for cheating is relatively small,'' Ms Taylor said. ''The majority of them go in there and don't even consider cheating. But, in any community there will be some who do and our message to them is that they'll be caught.''