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Adam Minter

How to Stop Asia's SAT Cheats

SAT cheating is far too easy in Asia. Here's how to stop it.
Reusing tests allows cheaters to buy answers from elsewhere in the world.

Reusing tests allows cheaters to buy answers from elsewhere in the world.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Dec. 6, nervous teenagers around the world will sit down to take the SAT. Most will succeed or fail honestly. Others, particularly in Asia, may well have bought the answers beforehand. As evidence, FairTest, a Massachusetts-based organization that advocates for standardized-testing reform, sent me the transcript of an online chat with an anonymous seller in China, who offered to provide a copy of the upcoming Dec. 6 test for as little as $3,000.

While it’s impossible to verify the seller’s claim, the problem of SAT fraud in Asia is widely acknowledged. Late last month, the Educational Testing Service -- which administers the SAT for the 6,000 colleges and universities represented by the College Board -- temporarily withheld scores from Chinese and South Korean students who had taken the test in October. Many were suspected to have procured questions and answers -- which had previously been administered in other parts of the world -- in advance. (ETS says that all students have now been given their scores, except for those who took the test outside their home countries.)