ACT, SAT security measures fail to deter cheating

35 Long Island teenagers were arrested in 2012 for being a part of a huge SAT and ACT cheating scandal, where some students paid others to take the exam for them.

Cheating scandals are not unique to the U.S., however. In South Korea, the May 4 SAT exam was cancelled after the College Boards and Educational Testing Service said tutoring agencies illegally obtained SAT and SAT subject test questions.

It is not a mystery that cheating finds it way into even the most “secure” exams. Recently, I took the ACT at Hartnell College in Salinas. Nearly 40 students were crammed into a classroom, smaller than the average classroom at CHS, and sat three people at a desk. Besides claustrophobia, this normally would not have been a problem.

However, all test-takers had the same test version.

Cheating in this situation would have been easier than stealing candy from a baby. While the SAT and ACT have increased security measures as a result of high-profile cheating scandals, they are not going about it the right way.

Many new security measures for both ACT and SAT include uploading one’s picture onto the admission ticket and showing a “government-issued ID” before taking the test. Yes, there have been cases where students pay geniuses to take their ACTs or SATs for them, but it is just a miniscule, insignificant percentage. Besides, with fake IDs being so easy to get, one could easily get past these precautions anyway.

The main issues I have experienced that could lead to cheating on the SAT are the mistakes of the proctors. Besides trying to cut us five minutes off of our 25-minute essay section or forgetting the five-minute warning, they don’t seat people at designated spots in the room. Therefore, students could sit by anyone they want. Since the SAT has different versions, it wouldn’t normally be an issue. In my situation, though, the person on my left had the same exact version as me. If I wanted, I easily could have copied his answers, especially the grid-in math questions.

Like I mentioned, the ACT was even worse. I heard people even discussing answers at the beginning of breaks.

While cheating is not fair to everyone else, I can’t blame students that cheat. The pressure to get into selective colleges is higher than ever before, and it is more and more competitive to be accepted. The difference between a 29 and a 31 could be the difference between a U.C. and an Ivy League school.

The SAT and ACT tests and grade point average are the most highly considered part of the application, so it is hard to justify not doing anything one can to get the best score possible.

-Edie Ellison