Students are anecdotally reporting that they had previously seen entire sections of the August SAT from copies of an October 2017 SAT that was administered in China and South Korea and subsequently leaked online.
Is this true? We don't know yet. Here is what we do know...
1) In recent years, the College Board (maker of the SAT) has suffered numerous security breaches in Asia. This is well documented:
- Atlantic Article: How Sophisticated Test Scams From China are Making their Way Into the US
- Reuters Article: As SAT was hit by security breaches, College Board went ahead with tests that had leaked
- Time Article: China Hit by Another SAT Cheating Scandal
2) Many news outlets are taking the rumors of a recycled August SAT very seriously:
- Inside Higher Ed: Was Saturday's SAT Compromised?
- Teen Vogue: SAT Questions Allegedly Leaked From Previous Tests Given in Asia
- USA Today: Reports of leaked SAT leave students wondering about integrity of test
3) The student reports, though anecdotal, all seem to generally be saying the same thing. Namely, that College Board recycled portions of an exam that had been leaked online.
If this story turns out to be even partially true, it would be an obvious unfair advantage to students who had seen some or all of the questions beforehand. It would also amount to extremely poor security on the part of the College Board.
So what happens next? The College Board may invalidate some or all of the August SAT results. Or they may not. It's entirely their call. But based on their history in similar situations, it is very unlikely that the College Board will invalidate the majority of scores, simply because it would create a PR nightmare worse than the one they are currently facing.
At the very least, we hope this incident serves as a major wake-up call that the College Board needs to take exam security much more seriously.
What should students do who took the 2018 August SAT? As of August 30th, the College Board stated that they plan to release the August multiple-choice SAT scores as normal on September 7th. This is a problem for Seniors. Why? Because registration for the October SAT closes on September 7th. If their scores are invalidated, they'll want to take the October sitting of the SAT to ensure that they can send scores in time to colleges for Early Decision and Early Action applications.
One solution to this issue is to register for the October SAT prior to September 7th as a backup plan to hedge against the possibility that some or all of the August scores will be invalidated.
Another solution is to take the October ACT instead. Every college in the country accepts either the SAT or ACT, and no college requires a score on both exams. The ACT, though not perfect, has not been plagued by test-integrity issues like the SAT has been in recent years.
Keep an eye on this space. We will update you as this story continues to develop!