The ACT — the most widely used college admissions exam — was canceled for thousands of test takers planning to take it in South Korea and Hong Kong on Saturday after it was found to have been leaked in advance.
ACT Inc., which owns the ACT, took the action after learning on Friday that the test had leaked, though it did not say how or where, according to an ACT statement (which you can read below in full). Some 5,500 students were affected, according to Reuters. The statement says all will get a fee registration refund. But the test will not be rescheduled, and those students who want to take it will have to wait until the next scheduled administration, in September.
Bob Schaeffer, public education director for the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, said that the cancellation notice was sent out at about 6 a.m. on Saturday, Asia time (Hong Kong and South Korea are one hour apart) just a few hours before ACT test centers were scheduled to open.
This is the latest in a continuing series of international cheating scandals to affect students attempting to take one of the two major U.S. college admissions exams — the ACT and the SAT. In fact, in 2013, the College Board, which owns the SAT, canceled an entire administration of the exam as well as SAT subject tests in South Korea after questions were leaked. For years, the College Board has invalidated some scores at every administration of the SAT overseas — most often in Asia — because of cheating, which has been done through a sophisticated process run by test-prep providers.
The SAT is more popular overseas than in the United States. The ACT overtook the SAT as the leading admissions test in the United States in 2012.
Schaeffer said that many students from mainland China flew to Hong Kong, and possibly Seoul, to take the test because the ACT is not given on mainland China. That means some students wasted a good deal of money on air fare and housing — not to mention the cost of test prep. He also noted that high school seniors who were planning to take the ACT on Saturday in South Korea and Hong Kong as a last chance to post qualifying scores for scholarships, athletic eligibility, etc. now have no options left.
Here’s the ACT statement:
To: All examinees registered to take the June 11, 2016, ACT in South Korea and Hong Kong
This letter serves to inform you that ACT is cancelling the June 11, 2016, administration of the ACT test at all test centers in South Korea and Hong Kong. ACT has just received credible evidence that test materials intended for administration in these regions have been compromised. Accordingly, ACT took the difficult but appropriate step of cancelling the test event to ensure the fairness of the exam for all examinees.
The June 11 test date will not be rescheduled. Please do not report to the test center or contact the school. ACT will issue an automatic refund of your June registration fees. If you would like to test on a future ACT test date, registration for the 2016/2017 test dates will open the week of June 20th.
If you are facing college application deadlines, you may provide a copy of this message to colleges to which you applied as verification that you were registered for the June 11, 2016, test date.
We deeply regret that you are affected by this unfortunate situation and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience it may cause you. Please direct any questions concerning your registration or the information in this message to ACTemail@example.com.Thank you,ACT Test Administration