The company that administers the SAT exams worldwide is withholding scores for thousands of students in China and South Korea after allegations of widespread cheating.
For those students who took the exam on October 11, scores are being held just days before the early application deadline approaches for many colleges and universities in America. Students from other countries who took the exam that day have already received their scores.
“Based on specific, reliable information, we have placed the scores of all students who are current residents of (South) Korea or China and sat for the October 11 international administration of the SAT on hold while we conduct an administrative review,” Tom Ewing, spokesperson for test assessors the Educational Testing Service (ETS), said in a statement.
The company has been made aware of reports that detail the sharing of test questions in advance of the test taking place in East Asia in prior years. Most of these reports discuss test preparation schools. The reports were responsible for canceling an exam in South Korea in May of last year, as well as voiding 900 exam scores in the same country in 2007.
The issue is also a concern in China, where only a few days ago 2,440 Chinese students were found to be cheating on a national pharmacy licensing exam with technological gear meant for cheating, including wireless earpieces and “electronic erasers” that can transmit answers through code.
According to a CNN report, around 1 in 10 college applications from students in China contain some level of fraud. Admissions officers state this is usually found in essays or high school transcripts.
“There are a lot of Chinese students and parents trying to get into the best quality schools they can,” Eddie West, director of international initiatives for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, was quoted as saying in the report. “Obviously there’s competition and incentives to cut corners.”
Ewing said scores were being withheld based on where students live, not where they took the exam. The SAT is not administered in China, with the exception of a select few private schools, causing thousands of students to travel from the country to other parts of Asia to participate.
“Chinese people see education as a game to be beaten,” Beijing-based educational consultant and teacher Jiang Xuequin told CNN. “If you can beat it, you’re a good player. If you can’t beat it, then you’re just stupid. Cheating is seen as a fair way to play the game. There’s absolutely no sense of shame in cheating… it’s been going on for years.”
The company is hoping the review will be done quickly and that students will have their valid scores by mid-November, allowing them to still be considered for early admissions.
Many students, however, are not so hopeful. Taking to college discussion boards on websites like College Confidential, students express their fears that colleges will not accept them because of the delay in scores. Many also mentioned that the scores would have influenced where they chose to apply. Others felt they were being treated unfairly.