More details are emerging about the SAT scandal in Asia and “The Washington Post” has an excellent overview of exactly how it all went down. As detailed in an article in “The Washington Post” entitled “The six-step SAT cheating operation in Asia — and how to stop it” written by Valerie Strauss, it was quite the well planned scandal! This took quite a lot of planning and a whole lot of dishonesty. And that is by no means surprising. Not one bit. Students in China are often handed pre-written admissions essays that have absolutely nothing to do with them. So why on earth would this SAT scandal come out of left field? It wouldn’t.
According to “The Washington Post,” “Confederates 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…Overseas ‘test prep’ companies 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). Prior to each exam, some test-takers contract with these firms to provide the answers to that day’s SAT. Such ‘services’ are heavily advertised on Chinese language websites such as Taobao, QQ and Wechat. On SAT day, hired guns 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. Based on this advance warning, the ‘test prep’ company consults its database and identifies 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.”
So they didn’t only cheat. They cheated with the help of extraordinary planning and execution. The SAT business in China is a big business. These folks are cheating quite well. How exactly will College Board address this scandal? So far, they’ve put exams coming from South Korea and China on hold. But even if these exams never count, how will College Board (and ETS, which administers the exam for College Board) going to address this growing cheating problem going forward? That remains to be seen.