News May 19th 2015

Universities Ban Watches from Exams. Are the Reasons Justified?

Digital watches are nothing new to college campuses and exam halls; students have been using them for ages in order to keep track of the time and plan their answers accordingly. Then Apple made an innovation and, as usual, it changed everything. The most important thing that sets the smart watch apart from the usual digital watch is connectivity.

Why Do University Ban Smart Watches?

Being connected is not considered to be a good thing in exam halls. A student with a smart watch can easily find a way to cheat, since this device can store and open cheat sheets. In simpler words, the watch works as an extension of the smartphone. Although most smart watches can only receive notifications for text and emails when connected to a smartphone, there are text-reader apps that make them a much more effective cheating tool.

smartwatch at exams

In addition, some of these devices enable the users to accept and conduct phone calls without the need to be paired with a phone in close proximity. The student doesn't have to have the phone with him, since the watches sync through Bluetooth with a range of around 32 feet.

The University of London expressed concerns about the usage of smart watches as cheating tools as soon as Apple announced the launch of its new device in 2014. At this stage, the university's officials didn't know how easy it would be to distinguish the Apple Watch from other smart watches that cannot be used for cheating.

Why do Universities Ban All Digital Watches from Exams?

Technology has been on the radars of universities since its very beginnings. The schools are naturally concerned that students would use their devices to get info from their phones and tablets. Since there is no easy way to tell if students are using their smart watches to see the time or get test answers, an increased number of universities decide to ban them. However, the fact that some students can get notifications and cheat sheets on their wrists also affects those who simply want to know the time.

The problem is more complex than it initially appears: some schools ban students from wearing any type of digital watch on their wrists during exams. To prevent loss of time that would result from checks whether the students are wearing smart devices or simple watches, the institutions instruct students to place all watches, along with their phones, in clear plastic bags.

According to the exam policies of the City University London, students are not allowed to take any electronic devices into exam halls. Due to the possibility of using smart watches for the purposes of cheating, the students are not permitted to wear any kind of wrist watch when they are taking exams. “Anyone found wearing a wrist watch in the examination venue will be asked to remove it and to place it on the floor under their desk.”

In addition to the University of London and City University London, there are several other British educational institutions that decided to stay safe by implementing policies against smart watches:

  • King's College London does not permit students to use a smart watch, smart band or mobile phone as a timekeeping device.
  • The Royal College of Physicians infiltrates this policy in its dress code for the PACES examination: “You are usually required to wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse, with no neck-tie, false nails, wrist watch or wrist jewellery (a plain wedding ring may be acceptable) at examination centers in the UK.
  • In its instructions to candidates on their conduct in written examinations, the University of Glasgow bans the use of calculators and any other portable device, unless specifically authorized by the head of the School responsible for the examination.
  • Southampton University also has a policy against watches, mobile phones, and other wearable electronic devices.

Intentionally or unintentionally, Apple changed the world once again.

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