After the August SAT exam, allegations surfaced on social media that it was the same test as the October 2017 international SAT and that it had been leaked online in China and South Korea.
This situation comes right after the controversy surrounding the June SAT earlier this year, which had a harsh curve due to the College Board deeming the test too easy. Students demanded on social media and through petitions that the College Board to rescore the test.
A petition with more than 2200 signatures (as of Sept. 12) is circulating to persuade the College Board to cancel the Aug. 25 SAT scores.
Senior Blake Lincoln, who took the Aug. 25 test and heard about the situation from senior Mehdi Lacombe, said it would be unfair if the College Boardcanceled the scores.
“I felt really confident getting out of that test,” Lincoln said.
“But all of a sudden, my test could have been canceled because the College Board couldn’t get test security ready and because they couldn’t get another test.”
Lincoln also said he doesn’t think the scores should be canceled because he didn’t know the test was leaked.
“I don’t blame the kids (who took the test) at this point,” Lincoln said. “It is fully on the College Board. You can’t just throw this on the students, especially seniors, who need these scores to get into college. And you can’t expect students to be able to take another test.”
Lincoln said that the College Board is losing credibility due to their problems in June and this controversy in August.
“If they really thought it was a good idea to use a test internationally and then bring it to the U.S., knowing that (international) students – especially from Asia – were coming to the US to take the test, then that becomes a problem,” he said.
“The College Board needs to get their crap together because this is ridiculous. They screwed up.”
One reason that international students come to the U.S. to take the SAT is that there are fewer international testing opportunities.
While there were seven test dates for the SAT in the U.S. for the 2017-2018 school year, there were only four international dates.
Since an August test date is offered only in the U.S., it gives international students another chance to take the exam.
The number of international test dates was reduced from six to four after cheating that occured last year.
However, in this case, it led to another instance of cheating – although it may have been unintentional.
Test-prep companies in Asia frequently obtain past SAT tests – both U.S. and international versions.
There is no way to determine whether international students knew the October 2017 international exam would be reused in August in the U.S.
However, international students who came to the U.S. to take the SAT who had seen the leaked test – and used it to practice – would have had an unfair advantage over all students who didn’t.
The College Board has not commented on whether the October 2017 interntational SAT was leaked or reused.
“We do not comment on the specifics of test form and/or question usage, in order to protect the security of our tests,” a Aug. 27 tweet from the College Boardread.
Senior Tori Van Vleck, who also took the SAT on Aug. 25, said she thinks it’s unfair and that the College Board ignored the problem.
“They just didn’t want to address the fact that they were in a scandal,” Van Vleck said.
“They don’t want solid evidence that it was something they knew about.”
However, it looks like the College Board will have to address the situation.
On Aug. 30, a class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court against the College Board, which owns the SAT, and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT.
The lawsuit was filed in Florida by the father of a student who took the Aug. 25 SAT and seeks damages for everybody who took the SAT in August.
According to Inside Higher Education, charges include “breach of contract (failing to provide a fair test), breach of good faith (failing to provide a fair test), negligence (permitting reported security problems), negligent misrepresentation (claiming that security issues were addressed) and unjust enrichment (charging fees to test takers while not assuring a fair test).”
Upon being informed about the lawsuit, Lincoln expressed his approval.
“That’s perfect,” he said.
“(The College Board) deserves this. If the lawsuit is gonna wake them up to the problems that a lot of students face, then go for it.”
However, Van Vleck said she wouldn’t have sued the College Board.
“I definitely think that some parents take stuff pretty far,” she said.
“I was frustrated over it, but it’s not the end of the world. But I don’t understand why they couldn’t create a new test when it’s something two million people take, and it’s such a big part of their college admissions.”
According to Reuters, which did an investigation in 2016 about SAT security and cheating, developing a single version of the SAT can take up to 30 months and costs about $1 million.
But Lincoln said that it is silly to reuse a test no matter how much it costs to write a new one.
“You need to make sure that your tests are secure,” he said.
“Your job as the College Board is to make sure that people get tested fairly and accurately. If that means spending a million dollars on a new test, then you need to spend a million dollars on a new test.”
However, the costs of creating a new test would mean fees for students would increase as well, Reuters said.
Students would potentially have to pay more than double the current amount.
Van Vleck said that the cost of writing a new test is not an excuse for reusing a prior SAT.
“Registration is already like 50 bucks, and late registration is like 75 bucks,” she said.
“It does not take 75 bucks just to print a copy of a paper. It probably costs like a cent because you’re mass-producing it to print the test.”
Van Vleck also said she doesn’t think it’s that difficult to create tests.
“All these companies online, like Kaplan and Princeton Review, create their own tests by recycling maybe one question from an old test,” she said.
“It’s really not that difficult. There’s millions of reading passages out there, and you can create any math problem. Maybe it’s been seen on a different test, but that’s completely different from copying an entire test.
“It should be an honor to be a top company that’s doing all this. They have to take it seriously.”
Director of college counseling Jane Bauman said that students are not paying to take a reused test.
“(The College Board needs) to adjust for the digital age,” Bauman said.
“And the digital age means that you can’t recycle tests. It’s (the College Board’s) job to provide test security. I don’t think students expected (a test to be reused), but now they will. The demand for questions or copies of tests that are posted online is going to grow. It’s going to be crazy.”
More and more colleges and universities are becoming test-optional, including University of Chicago.
“There are a lot of different kinds of test-optional,” Bauman said.
“Some schools are test-optional but require that you submit something else instead, like graded essays. Some schools are test-flex, and they want you to send some combination of AP scores or SAT subject test scores.”
Bauman said one of the driving factors to become test-optional is to increase the applicant pool.
“I attended a conference and heard American University speak – they had just recently become test-optional – and they found that it increased the diversity of their applicant pool,” she said.
“On the other hand, some colleges feel that the tests confirm students’ grades and GPA and (help to) understand what a grade represents at a particular school.”
Bauman said that despite the test security issues, the tests are well-written, and she does not think colleges are becoming test-optional due to recent transgressions with the SAT.
Lincoln said that while he thinks standardized testing is important, he is glad more schools around the country are adopting this policy.
Bauman agreed, saying that moving away from requiring tests is not a bad move.
“I think the SAT is a good test,” she said.
“The improvements are good and important. Now (the College Board) needs to continue to improve their test by improving test security.”
—By Sarina Rye