Three Chinese students plead guilty to exam cheating in U.S. – China’s latest society and culture news


“This is embarrassing. They should be sent to Africa.”

“Cheating is quite common in U.S. colleges. These students don’t represent the whole community of overseas Chinese students. And apparently, Chinese students are targeted when schools try to catch some cheaters.”

These two comments are typical reactions (in Chinese) to the news that on August 30, three students from China pled guilty to cheating on English proficiency tests required for U.S. college admissions and are likely to face deportation.

According to the Boston Herald, Cheng Xiaomeng, 21, gained admission to Arizona State University based on a fraudulent TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test was actually sat by a ringer named Wang Yue, a student at Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in March 2016. Before hiring Wang to complete the test for her, Cheng had taken the English proficiency exam several times but failed. Cheng was also paid by two other students, Zhang Shikun at Northeastern University and Huang Leyi at Penn State University, to take the same exam, earning a total of $7,000.

The four students were arrested in May at various locations across the U.S. on charges of trying to defraud the federal government. On Wednesday, Cheng pled guilty in federal court in exchange for sentences of time served and deportation. Cheng’s lawyer said that the student had good school performance while at Arizona State University and would return “to her home country of China in disgrace and more importantly to the disapproval of her father, who I’ve met.” Zhang and Wang also have submitted their guilty pleas, and hearings are set for them over the next three weeks. However, Huang declined a similar plea deal, and thus her case is still open.

Last week, SupChina published an article by John Pomfret that discussed the number of Chinese students who fake their way into American universities and colleges by hiring ringers to achieve ideal scores in tests such as the TOEFL and SAT. American schools’ obsession with Chinese cash has triggered “a tsunami of fraud,” Pomfret wrote.


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun is a Chinese native and was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allows her to pursue a journalistic career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.