The Baccalaureat 2012 is underway with oral exams starting. Caiti had her first one this morning. She has another next week, a week off for revision, and then faces the main batch of exams, most of them four hours long. She’ll be finished by 22nd June, but some students will be going on for longer.

The photo that caused the furore in 2011

I blogged about the Bac last year, and had to add an update after the great cheating. Someone circulated on the Internet very bad photos taken by a mobile phone of a question from the maths paper. The upshot was that this question wasn’t marked in the exam. This caused a huge outcry since it had been the relatively straightforward probability question where most kids could pick up some decent marks. The concensus was that the exam that day should have been cancelled and a completely new one scheduled for later.

The authorities realise they’re slightly up against it now that the Smartphone is here. These devices are computers and can be stuffed with information. Kids are banned completely and utterly from having them with them during exams. They must be turned off and left in bags or relinquished to the invigilator. But the powers that be realise that kids still might be able to stuff one in a sock and peek at it from time to time for help with answers, or use it during a toilet break. The daft thing about having such long exams is that kids very often need to nip out to the loo, so that’s something of an Achille’s heel in the enforcement of correct exam etiquette. There are even a few websites out there that give advice to cheaters and even tell them where to find answers to the exam questions within the first hour of the exam starting – «les corrigés en temps réel».

The personnel service interacadémique des examens et concours (SIEC) are sadly aware there are other useful gadgets out there too – watch phones, pen phones, miniscule radio receivers you can tuck in your ear. They also realise that youngsters are streaks ahead of them in their knowledge of and ability to use such futuristic tools, and that must niggle! All they can do really is look fierce.

The sanctions are strict, including a ban of five years from taking any exam in France. And I’ve no doubt they’ll throw in some fines as well.

It’s never worth cheating in an exam. I hope no one will this year and mess things up both for themself and the other students. And good luck Caiti!

Stop Press!!! Our Caiti has won first prize in a French web  design contest, together with her great friend Trish, and I’m taking them down tomorrow evening to Limoges for a specially reorganised prizegiving ceremony (they couldn’t get to the one on Monday so I did a lot of nagging!). I’ll tell you all about it in the next blog. Oh and Mildred, who, as the rest of you will notice from the comments to my previous Bac blog, thinks I am unjustifiably proud of my daughter, well, just don’t bother commenting any more. :-)