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. huxley

    Photo id? Can anyone say racial profiling? Pretty sure this is going to be found illegal in several states.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • tanthonyS

      What the heck does this have to do with racial profiling? Yup, NOTHING. I think that it's an EXCELLENT security measure.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      This has nothing to do with racial profiling. Moron.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulina

      Are you for real Huxley! Lol...you can't really be that stupid...you are putting us on...right? Right?

      March 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • gremlinus

      We check IDs all the time when students take test in college. The photos aren't distributed with the test, it's just used by proctors to make sure the person is the same one taking the test.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • TriXen

      Nah... as long as it doesn't affect Obama's reelection, it won't be challenged.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LALALALA

    THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING. NOT EVERYONE IS AS SMART AS THEY PUT ON OR TRY TO LEAD US TO BELIEVE

    March 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pierce

    If you cannot afford to pay to get an ID, you certainly cannot afford to go to college. So what's the problem? We already have to present a photo ID, that part was that way before. The only difference is you have to submit another picture of yourself. I don't see a problem here

    March 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Some people get scholarships...or find an employer who pays tuition (like me)

      March 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • iBod

      Great logic, Fool. "If you can't afford...an ID, you can't...afford college."

      A.) The disparity of the cost of college and the cost of an ID is so large the former requires to be paid for in loans (after scholarships). To have an ID you have to come up with full amount. So, the comparison is void....Big time, Void.

      B.) The problem is exactly that. [Most] Schools give you ID's for free. If you are who you say you are–And The School Wouldn't Lie–why the Hell should you have to submit a photo of yourself to the College Board? "So they can put your face on the test"...No. Who cares? I want a legitimate explanation to what this will accomplish. It doesn't accomplish anything. It's the same system that is already in place, but that you have to provide identification twice. It's a waste of time, effort, and very likely, money–since it will require extra ink to "put your face on the test." Like it friggin matters, anyway. It's still easy to beat the system.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paulina

    It's a good start definitely. Merit students should not have to suffer because of cheats!

    March 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    These are tests used to determinate just how smart you are. IMHO, to successfully "cheat", is to really demonstrate that you are indeed smart; smarter than the test givers themselves.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      I have determinated that you cheated on your standardized tests

      March 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. transplantedhoosier

    The submitted photo should also be checked against the person who shows up for the college interview, and when the student shows up at both the dorm and the first sessions of class for the first freshman semester. If the steps before these I've suggested don't "out" the cheater, I believe my suggested ones would.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. transplantedhoosier

    ...steps befor those...oops

    March 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Samuel R. Preston, III

    I cheated on the test that allowed me to post here. I am really a small house plant.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. eh?

    I still dont see how this will amp up security measures. why not have let the testing establishment have access to an online database that compares their photo with their social or DL#

    March 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJB, PhD

      Because not all students who take the exam have an SSN (international students whose parents are in the US on work visas, for instance) or a DL# (students in states that have raised the driving age to 17 or 18).

      March 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fred Quimby

    John Calipari is really unhappy about this.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Katie

    How about they just get rid of the test? Rich kids can pay for tutoring and special prep tests but most kids can't. They ought to start taking that into consideration when they grade the tests – there ought to be a special section they have to fill out to say how much they've been coached and how often they've taken the test, either as a prep or for real. (Some kids start taking the SAT in 6th grade!!)

    My preference – they stop putting so much emphasis on a for-profit test. It's a big money-making scam.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greenspam

    Testing should be abolished for the top 1%

    March 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Test Tatoo for life

    In the early 60's, no one knew about Traumatic Brain injury. I was a teen confused he had lost his reasoning and memory capabilities along with knee jerk anxiety problems ( no one could help me understand I was healing). I took the SAT and it convinced me I was stupid and worthless. It's been a lifetime later and 2 college degrees
    later ( the long route) I feel the whole test thing is unduly weighted. For all the returning troops who suffer likewise,
    hang in ... it will heal. Stay off drugs and booze for the quicker route to healing.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samuel R. Preston, III

      good point.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eh?

    It's a good start but it simply doesn't go far enough. All one would have to do is send them a picture of the test taker they've hired upon application. The test taker solely has to show up with a fake ID and voila – cheating can (and will) still occur.

    You might be able to stem this if students are selected at random for further background checks to ensure that they are truely the bearer of that name and photo, but that will require additional staff, time and money, all of which I'm sure the SAT/ACT boards either do not have or do not care to spend.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vijay

    I don't get it – what high schooler needs a stand in to ace a 7th grade level exam?

    March 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      Have you taken the ACT or SAT? Yes it is easier to some but it requires knowledge of HS level algebra, trig, etc. Not sure where you are getting the 7th grade slam from. Yes I have taken the SAT and the GRE and the LSAT.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Agreed! I took the test as a 7th grader (my teacher was curious how I would do) and I got something like a 1150 or 1200 (under the old 1600 system) without any preparation.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I also took them in 7th grade. In NY, you can do that with a 98th percentile score on the CTBS, test, or whatever those statewide exams were called. I scored above the average for a high school senior when I was in 7th grade, so I don't see why anyone would need to cheat.

      The funny thing is, I did not know what a square root sign was when I took the test. I learned that in school, about a week after I tested! If I had known what the root sign meant, I would have done even better! I wish we had learned that a few weeks earlier.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I should add that taking the test as a 7th grader gave me some confidence. I beat the median score at Cal-Tech(or Stanford, Harvard, and Yale for that matter) although I did not get a perfect score. I thought I might get an 800 on the math, but could not get there. I thought the math was pretty trivial, but obviously I made a careless error or two.

      I never studied for the test, either in 7th grade or in high school. Looking back, I probably should have studied in high school, as I might have gotten a perfect score. I took pride in not preparing for the test, but I see that hubris as a bit silly now.

      Now if you want a tough exam, try an actuarial examination.......Makes the SAT math look trivial, which it is.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Whoops.....My above median CalTech/Stanford score was in high school. I forgot to add that. In 7th grade I beat the median for a high school senior, but I sure as hell did not get a Stanford type score! That would be very impressive as a 7th grader.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdawg

      Obviously you have never taken these tests, vijay, if you think the SAT/ACT are "seventh grade" level.
      Please refrain from assuming you know things.
      It is foolish.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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