How many scores? The College Board, which owns the SAT, and the Education Testing Service, which administers the exam, won’t say.
Which countries? They won’t say.
What are they doing to find the culprits and stop the cheating? They won’t say.
Spokesmen for the College Board and the ETS, repeatedly asked for specifics, have said they cannot provide them for security reasons. Repeated requests for interviews with leaders of both organizations on the issue of SAT test security have not been granted.
This problem is now years-old; for example, the College Board canceled the entire May 2013 administration of the SAT and SAT Subject tests in South Korea because of a leak of questions. Since October, scores have been withheld from every administration of the test. One school in China, the Shanghai American School, posted a message Feb. 13 on its website that said in part:
For those who took the January SAT last month, you undoubtedly received an email the College Board informing you that the scores will be delayed for 5 weeks, I’m not shocked by this. I am shocked that the College Board sent us an email on the same day that they sent an email to test takers because they have not done this in the past.
The last two blog posts on this site hopefully have helped you gain some clarification of whether to take the SAT or switch to the ACT.
Some students in Asia have been complaining to the College Board and the ETS that December scores have not yet been released, and they are concerned — for good reason — because college admissions decisions are approaching. One school, Amherst College in Massachusetts, posted a message about the delayed scores on the school’s website, saying in part:
Please note that it is possible that delayed score reports will not arrive before we render admission decisions, especially for January testing. As the First-Year Application Requirements section of our website states: “Testing should be completed by the appropriate deadline (either ED or RD); in particular, Regular Decision applicants should be aware that the results of January testing may not reach us in time to be considered.” We will do our best to accommodate any applicants affected by the delay in score reporting, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to consider delayed scores in our admission decisions. To ensure that your scores reach our office as soon as possible, you must take prompt action to notify us of your results once your scores are released (as described above).
The next SAT is scheduled in Asia for May.
Most if not all of the cheating is believed to stem from the fact that the SAT exams given in Asia were previously given in the United States. Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the nonprofit National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known as FairTest, has pieced together how the cheating occurs, from reports by counselors and people who work in test prep companies in China and South Korea, and (as I have published in earlier pieces on this subject) this is how it is down:
— Test prep companies have employees or partners in the United States obtain recently administered SAT exams, including those that are officially “undisclosed,” either by copying illegally obtained test forms or compiling content from information about individual items shared on chat boards such as collegeconfidential.com
. Some even take the tests themselves.
— Test prep firms overseas maintain complete databases of questions and correct answers from previously administered tests. They use these to train their regular clients (also illegal if they use questions that have not been disclosed). Such test-prep “services” are heavily advertised on Chinese language websites such as Taobao, QQ and Wechat.
— On SAT day, the firms have people sit for the test at Asian sites in time zones several hours ahead of China (e.g. Auckland, New Zealand is five hours ahead of Beijing), memorize the first few items, then take a “bathroom break,” from which they call or text that information to their superiors. The firms consult their database and identify the test being administered in China later that day.
— A list of correct answers is then transmitted to paying clients by simple technologies, such as emailing the file to their cell phones or loading it on programmable calculators that students are allowed to use in the test center.
This note about the January test scores is on the College Board website: