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. Arimanthos

    To a great degree it's unfair to cheat for others since those trying may lose spots in great colleges because of a test. But then again, don't forget interviews, essays, and school grades. Also, in the end the cheater will suffer when he enters a college he can't succeed in due to its level of difficulty and is just down a load of money for paying for it, for having someone take the exam, and for having to pay for college. So cheaters, good luck succeeding in college after this.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jhenn Whalen

    They're treating a symptom here and not the real issue. How we thing of high stakes tests like these and how they have the power to dictate our future puts unreasonable expectations on all students to be brilliant. Reducing children to a test score, and therefore their possibilities in terms of careers, isn't personal. And so many are trying to get a leg up in this impersonal process the only way they know how. If we want genuine change in favor children, change high stakes assessment into something more personal to these kids as human beings.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. bl4ck0utsUn

    The very sad fact is that kids are having to cheat at all! What does that say about the education system in the US? Half the kids now a days can't do simple math without a calculator, spell without spell check, have any clue in history, and reading comprehension is nill! Shame on American for spending more money on National Defense then on educating our future generations!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josh

    So, this may just be me, and my problem solving skills, but couldn't the person who is paying someone to take their test for them, just upload the picture of the other person to the database?

    March 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.C.

      "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 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lynn

    Of course “hands of color” are used in the picture about ACT and SAT cheating by affluent students. When was the last time anyone witnessed an underserved student with funds to pay someone to take the ACT or SAT test on their behalf? Why again demeaning racial stereotyping by the media. Enough is enough. If it's a derogatory story minority images are almost always used as examples. What we will see is a drop in the overall majority test scores

    March 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark S.

      One of those people that recognizes and judges others based on their skin color. Obviously a racist, making comments and preconclusions of that type.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hannha

    no they will not get away with it

    March 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hannha

    I dont think that they will get away with cheating on the SAT.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zach

    I think that while cheating is wrong, most of it stems from the fact that some students are not good at taking tests even if they study or get tutoring. One solution would be to make taking the SATs, ACTs, GREs etc optional rather than mandating them as a way of getting into college or graduate school. The other option would be to have students show their credentials through the work that they have done through portfolios or essays. This will make it easier for students to have access to a good education rather than be rejected because they didn't measure up to a standard that did not show the full extent of their academic ability.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lisa Clark

    I really don't care if they cheat.. They don't ever use half of the crap learned in school anyway.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Libby

    It is time we did away with SAT testing altogether. SAT scores are not a predictor of college success or failure. There are colleges that do not even consider these scores in their admissions process. Why are we still forcing kids to take them??

    March 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
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