SAT cheating scandal in Korea

News Writer, Angela Park

Rumors erupted during the early morning hours of May 1 that the May 4 SATs (Standard Assessment Test) were canceled due to the illegal obtainment of materials for commercial benefits from SAT preparatory hagwons.

By the afternoon of May 1, this rumor quickly became truth when Collegeboard sent out emails to all May 4 SAT registrars confirming the cancelation with the premise that no other equitable alternative was possible. This distressed many students like Jennifer Choi, a junior, who said, “Them sending us an email three days before the SAT; that’s just wrong. I was mad at the fact that this chance to take the test was stolen away from me.”

The email’s content discussed how Collegeboard will still carry on with testings in June. However, many students doubt that reassurance. Ready to take further action out of worry and concern, Eric Han stated, “I was actually bent on writing an email to Collegeboard so that they would at least not cancel the June SATs, since this would just be unfair for the current juniors.”

The juniors and sophomores were especially flustered by the cancellation because they had placed high hopes in the May SAT.  Jennifer Choi remarked, “I was thinking to take the May SAT and apply for early action, but plans changed and I guess I won’t be doing that. I will probably take the June SAT and then the October SAT.”

Hoy Lee, a junior, premised, “If I don’t get the ideal score I’m reaching for in the June SAT I’m going to have to alter a lot of my plans over the summer. If I had taken it in May I would have had extra time to improve had I not done so well.” She also expressed her disfavor towards the hagwon responsible for the smuggled acquirement / obtainment of the tests, “I think that’s an extremely unethical thing to do because their primary pursuit is to gain money illegally. But they don’t know the ripple effect that their actions have.” Hoy continued that she feels as if Collegeboard is “playing with our feelings as of right now,” since the June SATs are not completely confirmed to proceed.

In response to the SAT cancellation, several students have started to consider taking the ACT (American College Testing) over the SAT. “I started studying for the ACT. I was going to take the SAT again but after this I was kind of afraid that if I took the SAT, and it got canceled then it would change all of my plans,” noted Miriam Lee, a junior.

The ACT is another standardized test, like the SAT, that all American colleges and universities accept. ACTs differentiate from the SAT in that it is more curriculum-based. People differ in preference of the two tests due to different academic strengths. The ACT tests your knowledge in English, mathematics, reading, science, and optical writing whereas the SAT is comprised of general skill in mathematics, reading, and writing. The scoring system differs as well. SAT scores range from 600 to 2400 for all three subjects. And the ACT scores each subject separately on a scale from 1 to 36.

Senior, Rachel Yeo sympathized with the juniors and said, “I think I would’ve been devastated so I can’t imagine what they’re going through.” She encouraged, “I myself didn’t do any early decision and it wasn’t horrible. I know that some people were happy that they did it, but for me it gave me more time to prepare my essays more delicately and design everything better. I think as long as you use your time wisely it should be okay.”

This has not been the first time that Korea has cheated on the SATs. In fact, exam cheating happenings occur in countries elsewhere as well. At least a few thousand test takers’ scores are canceled due to suspected cheating worldwide each year.