For the third straight month, some SAT scores in Asia are being withheld because of allegations of widespread cheating, this time on the December administration of the college entrance exam.

The same thing happened in November, and in October. After each administration in those three months, scores on the college admissions test were withheld while cheating allegations were investigated; then some scores were released, and others were invalidated. Some students missed early-decision college application deadlines as a result.

How many? The College Board, which owns the SAT, and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT for the College Board, said:

a) They could not share specifics about how many students had their scores withheld.
b) They could not say how many have been invalidated this fall because of confirmed cheating.
c) They could not discuss how they were attempting to stop students in Asia from cheating.

Other questions they have not answered since October include how they confirm cheating; why they don’t inform colleges and universities that a student cheated on the SAT when it has been confirmed; and why they continue to administer in Asia tests that have already been given in the United States, giving scammers opportunities to cheat in several ways.

Here’s the latest e-mail from Tom Ewing, director of external affairs at the Educational Testing Service:

We have now released the majority of the scores that were held for review following the November international administration. ETS has informed these students that their scores are available online through their My SAT Organizer.
Earlier this month, we received reports of test security violations during the December international administration of the SAT. The release of December SAT scores for some students is delayed while we conduct an administrative review. We appreciate that score delays are frustrating to students and institutions. Our responsibility is to deliver valid scores, even when doing so takes extra time. This is consistent with the feedback we continue to receive from our member colleges and universities.
ETS and the College Board take all credible claims of misconduct very seriously. Due to ongoing security efforts, we are unable to share specifics about the administrative review, reports on the most recent administration, and efforts to stop illegal activity. Doing so would compromise the effectiveness and integrity of current and considered measures.

Cheating on the SAT in Asia is not new. Back in 2007, the January scores of 900 South Korean students were canceled because, it was discovered, they had access to the questions before they sat down for the exam, which turned out to be identical to the SAT administered in December 2005, according to the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest.  In 2013, the some scores were canceled in South Korea for the May and October administrations of the exam because of allegations that questions from earlier tests were obtained by “cram schools” and given to students before they took the exam.

That’s one of the ways students cheat. Test preparation firms get the questions in advance by having compatriots take the SAT in the United States and memorize or illegally take photos of the exams — and charge big fees to students. In other cases, Asian students who know the test has already been given in the United States go to a Web site called College Confidential where American students write about SAT questions after taking the exam. The answers are compiled in a booklet known as a “key ring,” which students memorize.

Another popular cheating method is actually obtaining the test before it is given, which some people obviously did because the exam was posted on Chinese Web sites well before the December exam was given, according to proctors at several schools in Asia. Students reported that the questions were identical to ones from the March 2014 SAT given in the United States.

The cheating pattern couldn’t be clearer, year after year. The one thing the College Board and the ETS could do is design new tests for each administration, which, they have said in the past, would be expensive, apparently more so than investigating cheating every time the test is given internationally and dealing with a loss of credibility.

Here are some other posts about this issue:

 (Correction: Clarifying that December was the third straight month of cheating concerns. An earlier version incorrectly included September.)