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. jowl

    yet another instance where everyone agrees Photo ID's are necessary - its only when we require one to actually vote in an election that people get up in arms. sigh.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob


      March 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArtInChicago

      NO! Not the same amigo. If the state requirements for getting the voter IDs were easy, or consistent, (ie students in some states can get a gun license with student ID, but can't get voter ID with same) then there would be no uproar. But I guess like you, when you are a hammer, all the world is a nail.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    So you need an ID to take a test but people complain you need one to vote? According to the logic some people can't afford an ID so it is discriminatory ..same case here.. if lower income children do not have an ID they can't take the test, go to college, get an education etc.. where is the OUTRAGE here!

    March 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      Most schools issue students photo id, so there is no reason a low income student wouldn't have an ID for the test.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Req.

      You won't need an ID to take the test. All you need is a picture of yourself.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      not the same. To take an ACT or SAT test one shows either their school photo ID or drivers license. Many ,like myself, did not have a drivers license at the time of the test and the free school issued ID was used instead.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cate

      Exactly. Why is it harder to take the SAT than it is to vote? Frankly this seems a bit overkill to me. While I think it is important to prevent cheating this just seems excessive.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ya Right

    So all this will do is make them change there game, Just by reading this I have already found a way of cheating there system. All you have to do is employ make up artist to make the person taking the test look like the student. When ever you come out with a new way to stop people, people just come up with a new way to get around you.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. anon

    Standardized testing is a huge money-making scam. To treat these crappy companies with any type of seriousness is the real problem. College degrees are becoming almost the same thing. Anyone who thinks this is all about integrity, hard work, and the American way needs to step back and re-examine the system.

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

    They need a biometric, but fingerprint scanning is far more accurate than palm vein scanning (the palm vein promoters compare it with inferior, outdated fingerprint technology), plus it's available in so many more convenient and low cost form factors. Adding a photo just makes the task of finding your proxy test taker add a "looks enough like me" component. I also guess they are just conceding that the smarter of two identical twins will set the scores for the two of them?

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

    Photo ID required? How racist. At least they will be able to vote as they have an ID.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CDR

    Jack Jack is my hero!

    March 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Big Fraudsters

    Big Fraudsters all got their start as little fraudsters. Pity the child raised by fraudsters.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toejam Football

      Coming from someone who uses multiple usernames, that is such a sage statement.....

      March 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Williams

    Another example of how innocent people are forced to suffer the sins & consequences of the guilty through checkpoints & ID requirements. Now,without a government issued permission slip higher education is not allowed.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Trey

    Where is Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton complaining that this is racist? Need ID to vote = Racist; Need ID to take Test = Yeah not so much!

    March 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      need id to cash check
      need id to by alchohol
      need id to get drivers license
      need id to get passport
      Need id to take the test, what's the problem?

      March 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. willie

    When I joined the Army back in 1982, they offered me rank to take admission tests for teens to dumb to pass, I refused and was treated as if I committed a crime. Cheating is a fact of life. When these kids get out of school and enter the real world they will find that all businesses and corporations cheat, lie and do all sorts of unsavory things to be profitable. Cheaters do prosper, the ones bad at it get caught.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • noteabags

      I'd rather be poor and keep my integrity than be rich and dishonest. I guess that makes me a liberal.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaEd

      As the article says, "The problem is we have kids that think that cheating pays".

      Yes, and they are handsomely rewarded for it too.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greg

    I took the ACT when I was a junior in high school (1998). That was the most miserable waste of my time ever. I scored well enough to go to GMI (Flint MI) but promised myself I would never take another test like that again. Upon completing my bachelors in engineering I gained admission to a Master's of Automotive System Engineering at UofM in Dearborn based upon my grades at GMI. No GRE required. Recently I started an MBA at Michigan Tech without the GMAT. I sent my resume and they agreed that a GMAT would be a waste of my time. I doubt I could get into a PhD program without taking some type of entrance test, so I guess I will just remain at the master's level. Two kids, hobbies, and an engineering career really put a damper on my enthusiasm for higher education anyways.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. diane

    So we will require high school students to provide photo ID to take college entrance tests and it would not be prohibitive to low income or minority students. Now, I ask where is the logic in NOT REQUIRING photo ID to vote in every election, in every state. Come on people! Would someone please pass it on to Eric Holder and President Obama that we are tired with their constant meddling in every situation that catches their fancy, as well as the incessant changing of "rules" to suit their purposes.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • willie

      I think it would be more important for the government to actually count our votes.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Bob

    Good. I'm sure it was the frickin' PARENTS paying the test-takers anyway. It's just sick.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert Brunner

    Real college degrees are not anything close to a "huge-money making scam". They are money making for the graduates...just look at average pay differences. It is important that the system have integrity. In the past (haven't seen recent data), SAT scores were predictive of college success and college success is predictive of better employment. Cheaters, once in college, are unlikely to do well enough to get or hold the higher paying jobs in technology, health etc. Thats good because an engineer or health worker that incorrectly calculates can be dangerous.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
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