College & Workforce Readiness

SAT and ACT Adopt Stricter Security to Fend Off Cheating

By Caralee J. Adams — March 27, 2012 2 min read
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Students taking the SAT and ACT will be required to go through some additional security beginning this fall in an effort to address the issue of test-taker impersonation in the college-admissions tests.

The announcement was made at a press conference held today by the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney with representatives of the College Board and ACT. The security changes come on the heels of a cheating scandal in New York high schools in which students allegedly were paid to take exams on behalf of others.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the lax system in the past allegedly even allowed one male student to take the SAT for a female on one occasion. “These reforms close a gaping hole in standardized-test security that allowed students to cheat and steal admissions offers and scholarship money from kids who played by the rules,” said Rice, according to an Associated Press report.

Under the new measures, students must submit a current photo (digital or print) when registering for the tests, and the photo will appear on the admissions ticket for the testing site, according to a press release from the College Board, which administers the SAT.

Supervisors at the center will have a roster of students with their name, date of birth, gender, test type, attending high school, and access to a printable online register of photos. Upon entering the testing site, students must present the admissions ticket. They also may be asked to show the photo ticket when re-entering the test room following breaks or upon collection of the answer sheets.

In the past, students were required to present only a photo ID when they arrived.

The new rules no longer let students on testing day change test centers, decide to take a different type of test, or walk in to take the test as a standby. All requests for changes will have to be made in advance.

After the test, high schools will receive scores for all test-takers enrolled at that school. A registration-data repository will be created with students’ information and photos for review upon request by high schools, colleges, universities, and the Education Testing Services office of testing integrity.

The College Board is absorbing all one-time costs associated with responding to this issue, and it is anticipated that any SAT exam fee increases for the 2012-13 academic year will be in line with—or less than—last year’s increase, according to Kathleen Steinberg, executive director of communications.

ACT spokesman Scott Gomer said his organization is working hard so the new measures won’t place an undue burden on students. “ACT is investing money in this so the price of tests will not go up as a result of the security protocol,” he said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.