College Board Tightens SAT Security But Continues Using Old U.S. Tests Overseas


The College Board, which develops and administers the SAT college entrance exam, has articulated new security measures, but has not remedied the test’s biggest vulnerability.

The New York-based College Board said the steps include reducing the number of times the test is given outside the United States and increasing the auditing of test centers, according to Reuters news agency. However, the nonprofit organization did not say it would end its practice of reusing test forms overseas that were initially given in the United States — the source of many of its security lapses in recent years.

Reuters reported last year that the College Board has failed to stop a widespread and known security problem. Asian test-preparation companies are gathering questions and reading passages from past SAT exams, then giving their clients that material to practice with. The questions later show up on SAT exams administered overseas, giving an unfair advantage to students who have seen them.

Reuters also found that the College Board knowingly had administered some exams overseas that it knew had leaked. The news agency has done extensive investigations into leaks and students and companies that have cheated on the SAT. Many of those stories can be read here.

The problems caused by recycling tests overseas recurred as recently as last month. In its announcement, the College Board acknowledged it was cancelling the scores of an undisclosed number of students who took the SAT overseas in January and was reviewing the scores of an additional group of students “as part of ongoing comprehensive investigations.”

Reuters reported last week that parts of the January exam given in Asia originally had been administered last June in the United States. The June test was widely available in China and had been sold to students in South Korea. Reuters obtained more than 200 pages of scans and photographs of the leaked exam.

Zach Goldberg, a College Board spokesman, decline to say how many students had their scores canceled or in which countries they took the test.

David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board, said at a conference last September that the organization planned to scale back its reuse of tests. Goldberg declined to say whether the College Board will stop the practice overseas.

In its most recent announcement, the College Board said starting this fall, it will cut the number of test administrations overseas from six a year to four. The SAT will only be offered in October, December, March and May. The international test sitting originally scheduled for this June will be canceled.

The College Board stated its new security measures include providing law enforcement and other government agencies with the names of test prep companies and individuals suspected of stealing test materials. It pledged to make it easier for students and teachers to anonymously report suspected cases of cheating.

The organization also said it plans to prohibit individuals from taking future tests, including the SAT and Advanced Placement Exams, “when we conclude they have gained or attempted to gain or share an unfair advantage on any College Board test.”

For more on this story and previous reports, visit Reuters’ website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].