August SAT Controversies

by Laura Li

Preparing for college is no easy task and that includes taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  The 1600-point standardised test measures a student’s college readiness and is comprised of a reading section, a writing section, and a math section. Many undergraduates to-be take this 3-hour test multiple times and potentially spend thousands of dollars on prep classes to achieve higher scores.  

However, it seems that this highly valued test may not be as reliable as many may think.  Following the most recent August SAT, rumors about content leaks in China and South Korea have been circulating, causing a stir. Others have claimed that in October 2017, College Board administered a very similar test to SAT participants in Asia, meaning that August 2018 SAT questions were already circulating through the internet for quite some time, giving some test-takers an unfair advantage. College board has since issued a statement regarding this controversy. "If we determine students have gained an unfair advantage, we will take appropriate actions, including cancelling test scores and, in some cases, prohibiting them from taking another College Board assessment." They also claimed that a heightened security around all College Board assessments will be in play.  

However, many doubt these statements about security since the SAT has already met many issues similar to this most recent controversy. In past years, the SAT cram schools in Asian countries, like South Korea and China have been brought to the attention of US test takers and the College Board. These intense tutoring classes promise to prep test takers in the best way to be able to obtain high scores, high enough to enter “dream” colleges in the US. With families dishing out large sums of money for those promised high scores, prep classes must keep their word and many times have resorted to using illegal and leaked materials to gain an upper hand. Many programs have gone to extreme measures to ensure the odds are on their side by sending pupils into test sessions to memorize SAT content or even to steal booklets. In past years, prep companies have also utilized time zone differences to pass stolen answers and questions to students taking the same test a few hours later. This had been a great concern for those that taking the test honestly. College Board has commented many times in the past on this issue, but have not taken solid steps to prevent any potential leaking due to repetition of content in their tests. With the loss of credibility, many question if this century old evaluation is still a reliable standardized exam for students to take? But the biggest question still remains: how many more leaks will it take for the College Board to finally put their foot down and give everyone a fair shot at the SAT?

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