SIXTH-FORMERS attempting to cheat by buying essays online to submit as their own risk being sold poorly written, substandard work, the exams regulator has claimed.
Ofqual warned students against using such services, suggesting that much of the writing provided is not up to scratch and is unlikely to achieve decent grades.
A study published by the regulator which assessed a number of essays from online firms found many of those analysed were littered with errors and of poor quality.
Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said young people should be aware of the consequences of using these services, and she warned that anyone who buys essays online might not be getting value for money.
Those caught cheating are at risk of losing their whole qualification, Ofqual said.
The mystery shopper study done for Ofqual asked online firms to provide a grade A standard 2,000-word A-level history paper on the short-term significance of the National Insurance Act of 1911, and a grade A standard 1,250-word A-level English Language essay on Nelson Mandela’s death and the media, and to deliver the work within seven days. The firms indicated they took on hundreds of essays a month in these subject areas, the report said.
Fees charged for the history paper ranged between £120-£220 and £70-£138 for the English essay. But examiners’ assessments of the six essays delivered showed they fell far short of top grades –with the history papers awarded B-E grades and the English work ranging between C/D to U/E.
Ms Stacey said: “My message to students is quite clear. These essays are poor quality. Anyone who buys them isn’t getting value for money.
And more importantly, while there can be valid reasons for students buying these essays, such as essay practice or research, any attempt to pass this work off as the student’s own is cheating.
“We want a level playing field for students, with each student assessed fairly, and so decided to look into this issue more closely.”