For the First Time, SAT Test Gets Canceled in an Entire Country

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ann Hermes / Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

Students at Seoul Global High School on March 28, 2013

Some 1,500 South Korean students who dream of attending elite American colleges are scrambling after the U.S.-based administrator of the SAT cancelled the scheduled May 4 session of the exam because of allegations of widespread cheating. It’s the first time the SAT test has been called off in an entire country.

Officials decided to cancel the exam after discovering test questions circulating in test-prep centers in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. The College Board, which administers the SAT in the U.S., and the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the nonprofit organization that develops, publishes and scores the tests, issued a statement, saying they had made the “difficult, but necessary” decision to cancel the exam. “This action is being taken in response to information provided to ETS — the College Board’s vendor for global test administration and security — by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office regarding tutoring companies in the Republic of Korea that are alleged to have illegally obtained SAT and SAT Subject Test materials for their own commercial benefit.”

The details are scarce, but a CNN report says the prosecutors’ office in Seoul confirmed it had raided several testing centers for evidence, and the Journal story notes that at least 10 staff members of test centers have been barred from leaving the country while the prosecutors’ office investigates.

Test center managers told the Journal that the problem is widespread and that official test booklets can be purchased from brokers for about $4,575 — a relatively small price to pay for families fighting to gain admittance to Harvard, Stanford and other prestigious American schools no matter the cost. According to the Institute of International Education’s most recent annual report, South Korea sent 72,295 students to study in the U.S. in the 2011–12 school year, making the country the third largest provider of foreign students to U.S. colleges after China and India. Worldwide, international student enrollment at U.S. colleges has soared in recent years, with a record 764,495 foreign students attending American universities in 2011–12.

This is not the first incident of SAT cheating in South Korea. In 2007, some 900 students who took the exam in January of that year had their scores canceled after an investigation found an unknown number of students had seen at least part of the exam before the test was given. The latest incident, plus a string of scandals in the country over the past year that saw at least seven lawmakers accused of academic plagiarism, caused a South Korean national newspaper to question whether its citizens are unusual in their willingness to cheat.

But South Korea is hardly alone — the high stakes nature of the exam has fueled cheating elsewhere, although on a smaller scale. Of the nearly 3 million SAT exams taken worldwide each year, at least a few thousand are canceled because of suspected cheating. Several hundred other potential test takers are turned away at the door each year because of questionable identification. In 2011, 20 students in Long Island, New York, were charged with cheating on the SAT — five were accused of taking the test for others and 15 were accused of paying them $500 to $3,600 to take the exams.

The College Board and ETS say they expect to be able to offer the SAT in South Korea in June, but in the meantime, and out of fear of additional problems, there have been reports of students flying to Japan and Hong Kong to take the test there in order to get their scores in time to apply for college in the U.S. this summer.

81 comments
fdfdfdsfdssfd
fdfdfdsfdssfd

The solution to this problem is to have a HUGE question bank which pulls questions in a semi-random fashion to generate unique but comparable difficulty tests for each student. They would have to spend a lot of money writing 10 thousand questions and testing them all on test takers to know the difficulty of each question and junk poorly written questions. If someone wants to rip off 10,000 questions and work through them, that is otherwise known as studying. They could even publish the whole question bank to even the playing field for low and high income students. They take a couple hundred bucks from each student and this test is administered to millions across multiple countries, they have the funds. More than enough funds. The test company is simply lazy and taking us all for a ride. They want to elbow their way in to a monopoly position, take hundreds of bucks from each person, then give the absolute minimum in services to keep the scam going. The other scam they've got going to writing "official" test preparation materials. How unethical is that?

OkmenCT
OkmenCT

tuixachsale.com là túi xách uy tín chất lượng chán ngán 

BellinaJung
BellinaJung

The least they can do is mention that the school in the picture has nothing to do with the whole issue. Are they even allowed to post random, irrelevant pictures on there? Wow..You even mentioned the name of the school. I hope you make it known that the picture is totally irrelevant and apologize to the school. In the future, if you don't know where it happened, don't put up a picture. You're victimizing an innocent school and people.

sokuri0206
sokuri0206

I assure you that the pic has nothing to do with the whole cheating stuff...i thought that unrelated pics should be mentioned that its unrelated. Cheating was done at a private education center

Vindicated2
Vindicated2

Cheating is rampant everywhere.  Why is South Korea being singled out?  If anything, automate the process so a database of questions can be selected from at random.  And put extra proctors and cameras in the test room.

seizeabe
seizeabe

All the talk of "not-for-profit testing" is absolute nonsense. If anything is not-for-profit, it doesn't need to be advertised, enforced or made compulsory. "Testing" is a billions of dollars industry, with crisscross interconnections. Everybody is required to take the tests. Imagine the money that flows at every stage. Imagine the test preparation material, test preparation centers, testing personnel, testing process and equipment. And all testing is done by private organizations. The all important school and college admission process being "developed, published and scored" by the private sector. There is no government oversight at all. Everybody is in league... Even philanthropists rely on such tests. And, now they want to test (evaluate) teachers too! Imagine privatizing such a vital role of determining the futures of millions of students, without any government oversight whatsoever. And, nobody raises any concern about testing per se, at any government level. Is it the same when it comes to the Defense, Intelligence, Transport security, Healthcare? No. Is it therefore any surprise about how skewed education and opportunities are for the advantaged / privileged? Private testing at the local, state, national and professional levels, without government oversight is a sham. Admissions, funding, promotions, school/college/university ratings, on the basis of private-testing is a sham. Private testing lacks standardization and oversight. It should therefore not be surprising that several scandals, at prestigious colleges, school boards and now these admission tests happen. Testing, especially online-testing, should not be difficult at all, for government to develop, publish and score. Only then will there be the required security, sanctity and credibility of the system, just as the monetary or security systems. Till then, the not-for-profit, billion-dollar, private testing industry would continue to undermine education and thrive as a business. And, make fools of the innocence of hard working students, the world over. Finally, have we heard a single word of dissent or shock from any of the otherwise loud protestors at the political or media level? No! Any surprise?

ttliu
ttliu

@freechal0311 @philkooyoon 한국은 학문 사기꾼들. 엄청 많음.인성은. 안가르치고.누군가. 학계 대청소를. 해야. 한국의 미래가.암울함니다.손석희도.한둘이 않이에요 총체 적으로 썩었네요.

hsknyc
hsknyc

If you can cheat and get away with it, all power to YOU!!  Wish I had an option to cheat when I was miserably taking that stupid test..  Don't get caught.  If no one knows, no one cares.  Lesson to learn from this article?  use a bit more money to stuff the mouth of those officials and tell only the kids who want to cheat.  It's a f'd systemt o begin with, nothing wrong with cheating on a flawed test. IMO only.

ChandlerBrun3
ChandlerBrun3

@TIME @APPropst Why should an American test be administered in a foreign country where they don't know how to keep the exam private?

soyoung1809
soyoung1809

명문대가 뭐길래... 이리도 망신당할 행동들을 하는건지.. 세계적인 잡지에 이렇게 실렸으니 한국인들 이미지가 어떻게 보이겠나-_- What an embarrassing news! Don't try to do something beyond your capability. I wonder how people from other lands would judge intellectual potential of South Korean students after this shameful report. 

hosoo795
hosoo795

@TIME: Why has the SAT test been canceled throughout South Korea? ti.me/124qS15 (via @TIMEWorld)”또 하나의 국가적 망신. 그래봤자 취직 보장도 안되는데.

TerrenceAndrewDavis
TerrenceAndrewDavis

My enemies worry about man's opinion and smearing my reputation amoungst men.  I talk with God and laugh my ass off.  God or man's opinion?  I take that bet any day.  I'm so confident I share a secret.  God said you mess with a priest, you mess with him.

MatthewScot
MatthewScot

@TIME @TIMEWorld because standardized testing is part of a broken educational model and South Korea is an advanced country that knows better

HeartandSolGram
HeartandSolGram

@TIME @TIMEWorld Ugh! Faculty of various schools in Atlanta, GA were accused of the same thing. The test is too darn' hard already! Hello!

AseDeliri
AseDeliri

@sachi_bbsr if you are smart it shows. Regardless of the school you attended. When you climb using a helicopter, you will be quick to fall.

sachi.bbsr
sachi.bbsr

I expect this to happen someday in India.


hbergeronx
hbergeronx

@razibkhan this has been "a problem" for a long long time. Computerized and randomized can help, but really, tests create test takers.

hbergeronx
hbergeronx

@razibkhan my roommate in 1991 had GRE in Korean, he said that each attendee was given instructions on which question number to memorize.

seizeabe
seizeabe

Cheat at admission tests, cheat at college (recent elite college cheating scandal.... Intro to congress), cheat at work, cheat friends, cheat government, cheat family... What's surprising about this news? Just research the greatest cheats... And find out where they were introduced to cheating... Where they were taught or learnt to cheat... Things will all fall into place. Not for profit education.... Millions in salaries for CEOs / Presidents... Not for profit hospitals and healthcare insurance... billions in profits, government research grants and funding, tax-loopholes - zero taxes, & Millions in salaries for CEOs / Presidents... Wallstreet crash... Housing crash.... Banks crash... Insurance crash...

Just find out where all these greedy fellows learnt their tricks, and we'll know the foolish rush to cheat in tests, courses and work!

tturner02478
tturner02478

How is this different from what Kaplan and other test-prep parasites do in the US. They use exit interviews to pay students who come out of test administration sites to recall as many questions as they can. They use this in tell to create "sample tests" for students paying for the test prep. Only difference I can see is the scale of the theft.

黑毛包
黑毛包

ETS is possibly the most corrupt organization in the United States.  Their tests to do not prove anything....even the supposedly great "SAT" has a very statistically insignificant number associated with it.   Colleges use the test out of fear, and students take it because colleges demand it.   However, I have known enough people who had horrible (and I MEAN HORRIBLE) SAT scores (think 900 combined score) and had a 3.8 GPA in college....and others with a 1400 (on the old scale) and received D's and C's.   So tell me ETS- just exactly what are you predicting??? how many students will take your exam and be out of $60,$90 $300 USD??  The GRE is $175 a shot.  ETS is supposedly non-profit, but the CEO makes over a million dollars a year.   Low income people have no chance of getting a "high" score or even taking the test multiple times.  Even if you have money you can expect to fork out over 2k for a tutor.   This is really inaccessible for the vast majority of Americans, thereby barring them from the chance of applying to colleges that demand high SAT scores (also again --- NOT a good predictor of how the student will do in college).   If every student in America gave the proverbial finger to ETS and did not take their horribly written tests for two years, ETS would go out of business...and this would be a wonderful event.   They could still make money off of another bad product- the TOEFL (which does not show if someone's English is even remotely fluent) to unsuspecting foreigners.  

BorisIII
BorisIII

And the messed up thing is I'll bet students that cheat will get the same type of grades in college than the students that don't cheat.  Maybe just have to study a little more.

GolnazG
GolnazG

@sw_hadley No kidding, wow! Time to end all standardize testing and find more effective and reliable ways to assess.

marcstarr
marcstarr

the answer is simple. end the sat and all national standadized tests. Let each school create its own mini sat or entrance exam that best fits the students they want in their school. Only those students who apply to that school take its test. That makes it school specific and if its stolen...only that school is to blame.

CharlieCheckers
CharlieCheckers

This is no surprise when you consider that these young people see their business leaders, like Samsung's Chairman Lee Kun Hee, receive multiple pardons after being convicted on multiple counts of bribery, fraud and corruption.

smartbosslee
smartbosslee

@philkooyoon 아 정말 큰 일이네요. 필구님 말씀대로 표절에 대한 교육과 예방 시스템이 필요한데, 박사논문을 표절한 고위공직자가 학자의 잣대를 들이대지 말아달라는 해명을 하는 상황은 참 암울하네요. bit.ly/13LwtLP

thkimth
thkimth

@philkooyoon 더구나 이번 치팅을 칼리지보드가 자체적으로 발견했나요? 한국검찰이 먼저 인지해서 수사내용을 알려준 것입니다. 칼리지보드의 무성의한 조치로 피해를 보는 사람은 선량한 학생들과 부모들뿐.

thkimth
thkimth

@philkooyoon SAT cheating 으로 구글해보면 미국내에서도 스캔들이 많이 있음을 알수있습니다. 그때마다 칼리지보드가 미국의 특정한 주 또는 카운티에서 취소한 적 있나요? 칼리지보드의 이번 결정은 책임회피성으로 비판받아야 합니다.

noolonge
noolonge

@philkooyoon CISA, CISSP같은 IT 자격증 시험도 참 신기합니다. 학원가면 문제집을 주는데, 쪽집게같아요…

berkun
berkun

@kaylawebley I'm wondering how many similar crimes go unreported to the public.

berkun
berkun

@kaylawebley What legal obligations does The College Board or ETS have to report on a) cheating at all b) measures taken to reduce?