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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soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. avlpilot

    I only got like an 1100 on he old scoring system and got around a 3.5gpa in college the sat is a waste of time its a test that's all it is...some people don't take tests well does not mean they aren't smart...college isn't hard you just have to apply yourself a little bit more than in high school

    March 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @avlpilot So, you got and average score on the SAT and average GPA. Big whoop, there is a correlation.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cai

      "college isn't hard you just have to apply yourself a little bit more than in high school".

      1) some people would tell you that this is a problem (ie, college should be far more difficult than it is).
      2) college is, in fact, WAY harder for some people.
      3) How does that relate to SAT cheating?
      4) SATs/ACTs teach our teachers and parents to teach our children to perform on tests, rather than to actually learn things. This too, is a problem.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • GershwynnJay

      I would say 3.5 is not average, Joe. Is that what you are, an average Joe? Ha. The discussion in my head about this topic would fill volumes, suffice it to say the SAT is a joke, as is the American mentality of 'High'er Education. Let's leave it at that.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill Ball

    When are they going to eliminate these useless tests?

    March 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • GershwynnJay

      The test is useless, and so is the new security measure they are implementing. If the students could take the test with a fake ID, who's to stop future cheaters from getting a fake ID anyway and simply snapping a photo of themselves to use at registration? I don't understand the logic at all. I could go get a fake ID with some Joe Blow's name on it, then go apply with my freshly printed photo from my HP printer and apply for the SAT using Joe Blow's information. It's easy. Cheaters will find a way to cheat.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    I got a 1310 combined on my SAT's, had a 2.33 GPA in high school. Now 3 years into my degree at Penn State, I maintain a 3.50, and hold a full time job. SAT's and ACT's prove absolutely nothing.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JoJo

    No hoodies in the photo ID please.... lol

    March 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RJ

    I strongly agree with avlpilot. It's not that the test is useless. It's just that it is extremely overemphasized and dramatised in today's society. I strongly do not believe it accurately predicts how well you will do in college in any shape or form REGARDLESS of where you are from. If you are from a underpopulated area to one where those problems don't exist, it still does not accurately predict college success in any way. I did not do well really considering the area from which I am from. But I did absolutely fine in high school and currently am doing the same in college being named to the Dean's List (min GPA of 3.5) every semester except one (I transferred from that school because I hated it so much so that's why my grades suffered). Unfortunately it is something that you have to do moderately well in if you want to get to your first choice school. I don't think that's fair really. Its one day out of 365 where you sit in a room and take a test for a long period of time. There is so much more to a person than that. Also testing anxiety can be a major diagnosed problem for some people and with how the SAT/ACT is portrayed today, it doesn't help. So yea, it doesn't really make sense too me.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Myto Senseworth

    I have not been impressed with the performance of recent graduates. I think the test is bogus and our colleges are turning into "paper mills". If someone stays with the program long enough, he or she can get the "ol sheep skin"....

    March 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gardenjedi

    These new rules violate several protected class statutes and have a complete disregard for proper protection of personally identifiable information. 1) If china can hack the government RSA secure key system, a high schooler can surely hack SAT computer system and steal all of these peoples photographs and other PII information like SSN's. 2) Providing the photograph to the colleges overrides my ability to decline to provide my race information to a college. 3) Colleges can not discrimiate in their applications proces through certain protected class statutes. Whith a photo, they are jaded to this information even if they try to avoid discirminating. This is all around a very bad idea and surely there is a better way of doing this. For example, use a Chip and Pin card that is mailed to the student. Use a magnetic stripe card mailed to the test taker. Use an RSA key that is mailed to the student. Pick one of one hundred other ways other than using my photograph.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob Bichen

    Outstanding. I am a big fan of pro cycling. All of the drug testing has finally knocked down (if not completely out) doping. I am hopeful that these measures will also help to root out the cheaters and level the playing field in academics. These are high stakes as to admissions to the best schools and additionally, if they get away with cheating at this level, and assuming they survive college, the will lack the ethics they need to be effective and productive members of the society and/or business world.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason M

    54% of the variation in your first year of college GPA is explained by your High School GPA.
    53% of the variation in your first year of college GPA is explained by your SAT Score.
    So you don't really gain more information from one than the other looking at them alone. However having both numbers gives you a better idea of how you will do as-
    62% of the variation in your first year of college GPA is explained by your SAT Score and HS GPA.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kmac

    If the SC rules against the health care bill SAT and ACT can be a thing of the past. State schools (government) require you to enter into a contract with a private firm to get an education. Pandora's box openings is the sound you hear.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. matt

    it is awful school exams authority by state or federal government than teacher's own decision given to students get test papers in the classroom.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jane

    I support the ID plan because a lot of kids cheat to try to get scores my son got by studying. While my son got top admissions and full ride offers, kids in the middle might miss out if cheaters get better scores than them.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Amy

    How does that stop cheaters? When they submit a photo with registration, what stops them from submitting a photo of the person they're paying to take the test for them?

    March 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ChrkeePrde

    Its not just about toughening rules... its about the cheating culture that's becoming increasingly popular. People want something out of nothing nowadays... oh boy, I wonder how it'll be a few decades from now...

    March 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. George Johnson

    But you can't be asked to show a photo ID to vote to select a president of the United States.....

    March 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
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