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China is developing a new business niche: passing the TOEFL exams by dummies

There is a thriving business of passing TOEFL exams in front of China and beyond. First, Rest of World wrote about it, and now Forbes turned to history.

For the first time, the new direction of the educational industry was discussed in 2019. Then the US federal authorities arrested five residents of California for fraud in obtaining student visas. They took English proficiency tests for Chinese citizens, and thanks to scammers, about 40 people became students of leading US universities.

The 2020 pandemic gave an additional impetus to the development of the industry: it became possible to take entrance exams from home, online, including TOEFL, GRE and GMAT.

Rest of World hero Tony Wang, 34, runs an agency that helps young Chinese students enter foreign universities. Moreover, the service is complex: from assistance in filling out the necessary documents to ... cheating on the TOEFL exam. In Chinese, this is called baofen or "guaranteed points". There are several ways to get them: according to Tony Wang, he can connect to the testee's computer via a bluetooth keyboard in order to complete the written part of the exam (the customer at this time sits in front of the monitor and simulates typing); can write answers on a smartphone or tablet when the conversational stage of the exam begins - so that the test taker can simply read them. If the client does not know English at all, he will open his mouth, and Van will speak for him.

According to Forbes, citing an anonymous source from Quora, such scam agencies are often hired as subcontractors by companies that organize training abroad. That is, some, like Tony Wang, work as full-cycle agencies, others hire scammers for subcontracting.

Tony Wang claims to have helped about a hundred compatriots pass the TOEFL in this way. Some of them have been admitted to top 30 universities in the US. Among his clients are executives of Chinese companies and pop stars. More knowledgeable Rest of World interlocutors believe that at least 10,000 people went through the industry of cheating on exams during the two years of the pandemic. Prices for services are different: some of the clients know English, but want to improve their honest 90 points out of 120 to 100; and someone does not speak the language so much that during the oral exam he simply opens his mouth, and the performer from the agency speaks for him.

One of the students who successfully passed the exam announced her expenses: the agency asked for 18 thousand yuan (about $ 2.6 thousand) for sending the correct answers to the smartphone, but she reduced the price to 15 thousand yuan ($ 2.2 thousand). If English is really bad, you can send a disguised specialist instead of yourself to be present at the exam instead of the customer: it will cost about $4,000. monthly.

Companies that help pass the more difficult LSAT exam, which is required for admission to most US law schools, charge 40,000 yuan (about $5,900) for getting 160 points out of 180 and 60,000 yuan (about $8,800). ) for 170 points, enough for an applicant at Harvard Law School.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language - a test for knowledge of English as a foreign language) is a standard international exam, the results of which can be used to confirm the level of English proficiency of applicants from non-English speaking countries when entering universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.

There are several options for taking the exam. As Forbes clarifies, TOEFL Essential can be taken from home, its results are accepted by 576 universities. TOEFL iBT is conducted online in accredited centers and is valid for 11.5 thousand universities. But there is also a version of TOEFL iBT Home Edition (exam results are accepted by 836 universities), which also allows you to take the test from home, but at the same time, the conditions for passing it must comply with the requirements of ETS, the world's largest organization for testing and evaluating education.

In response to an inquiry from Rest of World, in December 2022, ETS Security Director Wallace Dalrymple stated that the company is aware of fraud attempts around the world and spends tens of millions of dollars annually to detect and prevent such incidents. In June 2022, ETS acknowledged that home exams have contributed to an increase in fraud worldwide. The test subjects used remote access software or mobile phones to send and receive messages.

China is developing a new business niche: passing the TOEFL exams by dummies