March 27th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

SAT, ACT institute tough new measures to prevent cheating

[Updated at 2:27 p.m. ET] Sweeping new security measures to prevent cheating on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams were announced Tuesday.

Beginning with exams taken in September, students will have to submit a photo of themselves when they apply for a test. That photo will be printed on the student's test admission ticket and the roster provided to proctors at testing sites. Testing staff will compare the submitted photo to a photo ID and to the student in person at the testing site.

Photo checks will take place when the student arrives at the testing site, during breaks and when tests are handed in.

Student photos will also remain in the testing databases and be checked again by high school counselors and college admission officials once scores are calculated and submitted.

The new rules were announced at news conference in Nassau County, New York, where 20 people were arrested last fall in a SAT/ACT cheating scandal.

"A photo ID simply won't work to game the system anymore," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office is prosecuting the alleged cheating cases.

In those cases, test-takers produced fake IDs and took the tests for high school students who paid them to do so, Rice said. The test-takers took the test at high schools other than the ones the students attended to prevent being identified by staff, Rice said at Tuesday's news conference.

Students will still be permitted to take tests at high schools other than their own, Rice said, but standby testing - showing up at a test site without prior registration for that site - would no longer be permitted.

The changes will "ensure honest kids will no longer take a back seat to cheaters," Rice said.

Rice was joined Tuesday by Kathryn Juric, vice president of SAT at the College Board, which administers the SAT, and Charles Smith, vice president of the ACT.

"We are confident that the security advancements made today will help maintain an honest testing environment," Juric said.  "It was crucial that these new measures address test-taker impersonation issues."

Smith said students would not face any increased cost because of the new security measures.

"We believe we can cover the cost out of our reserve we set aside for instances like this," he said.

Officials expect most students to be able to upload a photo of themselves to the testing services when they submit their application online, they said, but mail-in applications would still be accepted with a photo attached. The testing services would then put that photo into the database to be added to admission tickets and test records.

"The problem is we have kids that think that cheating pays," Rice said.

If, after the changes, possible cheaters still believe that, Rice said she had one message for them.

"You're wrong. You're not going to get away with it," she said.

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Filed under: Crime • Education
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    I hardly think that throwing these kids in jail is the answer...beating them, either.
    I do not think that anyone who is serious about their education would have a real problem.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Honesty is the best policy

    What is to stop a cheater from uploading or sending in a picture of the person who will take the test for them?

    March 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      I wondered the same exact thing.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • gary

      If you upload a picture of another student taking the test for you, the results will be sent back to your school, where they will see the photo does not line up with the student – BUSTED

      March 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • mylastnerve

      nothing except it'd be like getting caught by a security camera when robbing a store. plus, if that pic gets sent along with the official test results that are sent to the colleges, you'll be found out.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Readthearticle

      Before tests and scores are given final approval, teachers and administrators from the kid's school will have to verify that the picture is of the correct student.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Got cha

      The student who benefits from cheating on the test will inevitably get caught. “Student photos will also remain in the testing databases and be checked again by high school counselors and college admission officials once scores are calculated and submitted.”

      March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack 63

      as per the article that picture will follow that test through the entire process. It will be printed on the test, the schools and colleges will see it when they show up to enroll.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      From the article:
      "Student photos will also remain in the testing databases and be checked again by high school counselors and college admission officials once scores are calculated and submitted."

      The score will be useless if your guidance counselor or college admission official realizes the photo on the test score is not a photo of you.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Melissa

    It's about time they up their security for the ACT/SAT. I just took the GMAT last year to get into grad school/ an MBA program and they had borderline overkill (but appropriate) security. The day of the test, you had to show photo ID, they videotape you taking the test, and you have a palm scan (more intense version of a finger pring scan)everytime you enter/leave the room to insure you are the same person that checked in.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • luispedroza

      That explains why the GMAT costs $250 every time you take it...

      March 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kim S

    It's obvious that spelling and grammar are no longer tested subjects. Some of these comments reflect the weak grasp many of you have on the english language. Don't forget kids, puncuation saves lives.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      And you are a shining example, given the multiple errors in your post....

      March 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |

      The word "English" should be capitalized.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      You forgot to capitalize "English" language. If you're going to comment about the spelling and grammar of others you should probably make sure you get everything right.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. I'm going to write the SAT wearing a hoodie

    Don't shoot me bro.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack Jack

    When in high school (late 80's), I took the test for five other people, acquiring differing levels of goods and services. My efforts got all five of them into college. You know what? Four of them graduated and went on to be successful. The other person moved to military service and also became successful. The SAT itself is very elitist, we should focus on personalized strengths to determine someone's future. Not this number 2 pencil, fill in the bubble, College or McDonalds all or nothing approach.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • iBod

      I agree. Well said. Times have certainly changed, they have.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      First, whether they went on to become successful (assuming your internet-story is true), doesn't change the fact that they committed fraud. It bears on their character.

      Second, whether the test is "elitist" is irrelevant.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      The argument the cheaters use–whether they are rationalizing cheating on the standardized test or in writing essays admissions and otherwise–is that the system is elitist. Their logic creates an elitist and also corrupt system. I'm curious if Jack accepted $$$ for his services, or if his hours in exam rooms were purely altruistic gestures. If he subsidized his well-being with ill-gotten gains, how does he rationalize that he was doing his part to rid the world of something foul. No doubt he thinks that he helped himself while simultaneously helping friends. The best of all worlds. The moral relativism of our culture allows us to couch our indulgence in lofty terms.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. iBod

    You have to send a photo of yourself when you register, when you already have to provide identification before you take the test, anyway? This is suppression! This is very similar to what the Republicans are trying to do with voter's registration! What does it solve? Do they honestly believe that can't be worked out against, either?! What the Hell has this Education System turned into?! Get this to the front pages, this is utterly shameful and needs to be known!

    PS: The SAT is not a test, it's a strategy. It's kind of a mix between blackjack and poker. So long as you know how to play, you could very likely ace that piece of crap, no problem. I know. I did it. I'll tell you:

    ...It is not a determinate of any amount of intelligence by any means. That's not to say I am undermining my own intelligence. I am merely saying the SAT is a huge WASTE of your time!

    March 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      This is the best trolling attempt in a while.

      You lost it when you tried to link this to Republicans and voting identification, though. That wasn't very subtle.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • iBod

      Nah, great rebuttal. You can try being a bit more logical and sensible next time. Overall, I thought your comment was fair. I give it an "E" for..uh...Effort, if you suppose. Definitely one you should print out and put on your fridge. Mommy and Daddy would be proud.


      March 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fluff-Bunny

    Back in the 80s, I took the SAT for someone (4 people actually). This "person" actually got a better score than "I" did. How's that for poetic justice?

    March 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Al

    The real crime is the outrageous profit the College Board makes on these tests, which are dubious predictors of academic achievement at best. The College Board, leader in the fine art of the scam.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Actually, there's only ONE better predictor that's quantified (high school GPA) and it's only a slightly better predictor than the SATs. SATs plus high school GPA combined are actually the best predictors we have out there. So your "dubious" comment is actually completely off the mark.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Honor System

    I guess the honor system went into the same trashcan as moral values and modest clothing. Way down at the bottom of that can is where we lost our love for unborn children. (even ones we weren't related to)

    March 27, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Worst segue ever...weren't you on the first page advocating beating kids and throwing them in jail?

      March 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mrs. Davis

    Okay. That's the U. S.. What are they going to do about people in foreign countries.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aezel

    So, a company is already coming out with a HUD screen implanted in contact lenses in the next two years. What will they do to stop cheating when kids can have an information feed directly to their retinas?

    March 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bobby Noheater

    With the level of cheating going on in schools in this country, what does that say about the parenting of these junior criminals? And to think these kids could be advancing into professional careers... it's scary to think of the lack of integrity being unleashed upon the general public.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tis

    In all honesty, SAT scores and ACT scores really does not measure a person's worth, value, or skills in life. Unfortunately, society made it this way which does cause some panic amongst kids and result in cheating due to fear of being subjected to failure marked by an overpriced piece of paper generated by a profit-based organization.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Honor Student

    Excuse me. This is my first day at university and I'm still looking for Honesty and Integrity 101.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaEd

      They are located in the Morals Building.

      Or maybe they are part of Morals Building.

      A much neglected activity to be sure.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
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