The Scope of SAT Cheating in Asia



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Reuters recently published a two-part article (here's part 1 and here's part 2) exposing the extent of SAT cheating in China and South Korea. If you have time, I highly recommend reading it. Here are the salient points as I see them:

1. The College Board reuses SAT tests and has been doing so for many years. If a test was administered in the U.S., it can be reused at a later date in other countries.

2. There's a whole industry in China and South Korea built around obtaining these tests (by theft or memorization) in order to give its customers an advantage.

3. The College Board is not very forthcoming or penitent about the issue. Hey, the more students who take the SAT, the more money they make!

4. U.S. colleges (especially the cash-strapped University of California system's) love foreign students from China and South Korea; they usually add to STEM numbers and usually pay full price. Since the College Board reuses tests, now many of these students can score higher on the SAT to make it even easier for U.S. colleges to accept them.

5. Since the College Board still recycles tests and schools like the UC's are self-interested, it's now even harder for American students to get into U.S. colleges - especially the UC's. Aren't the UC's designed to provide accessible education to California residents, though? [insert outraged remark here]

I'm hoping the Reuters article will put some pressure on the College Board to make it more difficult to cheat. The best solution I've heard would be to create print-on-demand tests that would draw questions from a database so that no two tests would be alike. But since both the College Board and U.S. colleges are profiting from the status quo, I don't think we'll see a change that would make it hard to cheat anytime soon.

Please share this story with someone you know - the more people who find out about this, the more likely it is that something will change.

- Vince


P.S. I realized after getting a reply to my newsletter about systemic SAT cheating in Asia that I needed to clarify something. It may have seemed obvious to you, but it wasn't stated very clearly by me.

The thing that frustrates me is that more and more foreign students who have cheated on the SAT are getting into U.S. colleges at the expense of all students who don't cheat.

The percentage of foreign students in the University of California system, for instance, is rising while the percentage of U.S. students is falling, and this is partly because it's much easier for Chinese and South Korean students to cheat on the SAT.

P.P.S. Update: As I write this, on December 10th, 2021, I just learned that the entire International December SAT was leaked a day early on Reddit. As usual, The College Board won't admit this happened, but your kids may now be competing against people overseas who literally had the whole SAT before they took it. Good times!

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