Exam papers are to be given electronic tags to stop students cheating, exam board Edexcel said today.

The organisation announced plans to use electronic tags as markers, similar to the ones found on CDs and clothes in shops, on bags of exam papers to identify the contents and coordinate the marking of exam papers.

Edexcel said the tags would allow inspectors to scan the packages at any time after delivery to identify the contents and make sure nothing has gone missing. And the ability to track papers from the moment they are collected for marking is hoped to reduce the numbers of papers stolen and made available over the internet.

The exam board has also updated its computer systems to flag unusually good results for those students who had previously not been high achievers for further investigation to guard against cheats getting away with it.

Edexcel managing director, Jerry Jarvis said: "Incidents involving stolen papers are extremely rare, but the potential impact is massive.” He pointed to the fact that the logistics of re-issuing alternative papers was complicated and possibly detrimental to those who have to both sit and mark them.

"We're doing a major trial of new techniques and technologies with the aim of deterring potential thefts, enabling us to better identify the source of a lost or stolen paper, and reducing the threat of fake papers being sold to candidates," said Jarvis in a statement.