Was the August SAT College Board’s Biggest Controversy Yet?

As allegations of cheating became widespread after the August SAT, College Board assured students that scores will be released as planned on Sept. 7. But reactions have varied.



The first SAT exam was issued to high school students in 1926.

By Mhar Tenorio, Online Editor-in-Chief

The students have spoken.

College Board’s security and integrity were questioned as the SAT on Aug. 25 has been revealed to be a replica of a past exam administered in 2017.

The SAT, also known as the Scholastic Assessment Test, is administered by College Board. The test is one of the most important factors in college admissions, and students end up spending hundreds of hours studying for the test.

As students left their testing centers, allegations of cheating became widespread online.

Twitter user Qifan Yang pointed out that August 25th’s test had already been leaked online before test day. Yang found the copy of the test in a social networking app called WeChat, and this was claimed by other students as well.

An answer key to the August SAT was also posted on Reddit. The link is currently disabled.

The test was given for an October International SAT in 2017 in China and South Korea, which is a possible explanation for the leak.  

As students waited for a statement from the College Board, students feared of a possible cancellation or invalidation of scores. Because early college acceptance applications are due before the next SAT in October, seniors taking the test for the first time in August would have been heavily impacted. Cancellation would waste the efforts most students put into their preparations for the test.

On Aug. 27, two days after the test, College Board released an online statement posted on Twitter amidst worries and speculations.

“Most multiple choice scores from the August SAT will be available online on September 7 as planned,” the College Board stated.

However, not all scores may be released. The College Board assured that they will conduct a statistical analysis to investigate students who “gained an unfair advantage” during the test. Not only will those students have their scores cancelled, but they may possibly be banned from any College Board administered test.

The statement, however, did not tackle the reuse of the October International test on the August SAT. College Board remained quiet on the issue to “protect the security of tests.”

Despite students being worried about cancellations, others were unhappy about College Board’s response to the situation. A petition has been made to invalidate all the scores on the August SAT due to the leak of the test material beforehand. 2,123 students have already signed the petition with the goal of 100,000 signatures. Once the goal number is reached, the White House will ultimately take action towards the issue.

The issue also reached Assembly member Adrin Nazarian’s office.

“I strongly recommend the College Board change its policies and procedures to ensure organized cheating does not take place. It is unacceptable that a private company entrusted with creating a level playing field would allow for this type of leak. Private companies should be held accountable when competition is skewed.” he stated.

“That said, as college admissions become increasingly challenging, I encourage students to maintain classroom integrity. Learning the material should be the most important priority for students, not finding ways to gain an unfair advantage.”

Additionally, this outcry may soon go to court. An unnamed father of a Florida student who took the August SAT filed a class action lawsuit against the College Board on behalf of all affected students who took the test.

In response to the lawsuit, College Board released a statement: “We are reviewing the complaint and will respond accordingly. Our focus remains on reinforcing our comprehensive approach to test security.”

Despite the continuous efforts of the College Board, cheating allegations and security breaches have been a “persistent problem” prior to the August SAT.

This might reference to the extensive test prep industry in Asia. A 2016 Reuters report revealed that test materials were often reconstructed in which agents who took the SAT in the US sent the contents of the test overseas. Hidden cameras and online discussions are possible methods that could have been used to recreate tests. These international test prep agencies then depend on the College Board’s system of recycling questions for its clients to achieve better scores.

Even after the redesigned 1600-point SAT was first administered in March 2016, Reuters already reported and received replicas of the tests from Chinese test prep agencies.

The solution to prevent these leaks and alleged cheating seems clear: administer a new test for every SAT date. However, this is not as easy as it seems.

College Board pointed out that creating these tests are not only time consuming but also very expensive. If more tests with different questions are manufactured, this can eventually pass the burden to students taking the SAT with an excessive fee—possibly doubled.

As an alternate solution, College Board promised to reduce the number of past SAT questions—but not completely eliminate the recycling of test material.

No matter the outcome, college admissions officers still believe the August SAT further undermined the security and credibility of the test. Scores may be deemed questionable because those who gained an advantage by looking at the test beforehand may be undistinguishable.

To Van Nuys High School students, however, fret not as Ms. Mary Charlton, VNHS’ college counselor, assured that the August SAT had “no impact .”

“I’m glad it didn’t have an effect on us.”

College Board released test scores on Sept. 7 just as planned.