Traditional methods of smuggling notes into school examinations are still the most common form of cheating, according to the latest Qualifications Authority statistics.

Last year 68 secondary school students were pulled up for taking notes into the exam room having, for example, scribbled them on their hand or stuffed papers up their shirt sleeves and results were withheld in 28 cases.

In 2007 29 students were pulled up for taking notes into the exam and results were withheld in 14 cases.

Forty-four students were pulled up for taking a cellphone into an exam last year and two had their results withheld, while 47 students were caught with cellphones in the examination room in 2007.

A total of 511,000 individual exam sessions were held last year.

The number of serious rules breaches fell by almost half in senior NCEA exams from 2007.

While 330 breaches were investigated - slightly up from the 328 breaches in 2007 - just 62 incidents led to results being withheld, down from 116 in 2007.

Bali Haque, the deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority (NZQA), said this was a reflection of the intensive training exam centre managers went through on how to spot and deal with cheating.

He said it was pleasing, given the size of the exam operation and the number of students and standards involved, that results were withheld in just 62 cases and hoped the downward trend would continue.

"We would prefer to withhold no results, we would prefer that there were no breaches but certainly we are very pleased with the drop," he said.

Results were also withheld from seven students for causing disturbance during the exams, six for handing in inappropriate language or drawings, five students who had similar answers to one another and four who tried to alter or access the answer booklet.

Other offences included: copying from an external source, using an unauthorised calculator or dictionary, communicating with another candidate, impersonating another student by using their admission slip, using an MP3 or CD player, removing the answer booklet and unauthorised absence.

Most of these breaches related to NCEA examinations. Six breaches were reported in scholarship examinations and results were with-held in one of these cases.

The offending students sat exams at various school locations around the country but NZQA said candidates doing exams at these centres were not necessarily students of the school.