Cheating on Standardized Tests

What happens to students who cheat on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams?

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The premise of the 2004 film The Perfect Score about six high school seniors who steal their SAT exams from the Princeton Testing Center may have seemed far-fetched, but was it really?

In 2008, seven students from Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles, the largest charter school in the country, stole SAT tests from the school and cheated on their exams.

In the long run, if you choose to cheat on the SAT you are cheating yourself by getting into a college that you are not academically prepared for.

How Common is Cheating on Standardized Tests?

Cheating on the SAT is no easy feat. Students are required to bring their ID and do not know which test they are going to get beforehand. A proctor is in the room the entire time. No students are allowed to leave before the test is complete.

Despite this, some students find ways around the rules and cheat on their SAT or ACT.

This is apparently not a widespread issue, as there have been only an estimated 2,000 cases of cheating out of approximately two million students who take the SAT each year.

How Do Students Cheat?

There are a variety of ways for a student to cheat on their SAT or ACT college entrance exam. All are risky, and will most likely result in getting your scores thrown out.

The most common way for a high school student to cheat on a standardized test is to copy another student’s paper. This usually backfires, as most students do not have the same test format.

Some students use their cell phones to text and access the Internet for answers. Others bring cheat sheets written pasted on water bottles. Although it may seem like a clever ploy, you should not expect to get away with it.

An extreme international case of cheating occurred when a test prep tutor in South Korea was charged with scanning copies of the SAT exam and then sending it to South Korean students who were taking the test in Connecticut.

Most recently, this year a student from a top Midwestern university took the SAT for a handful of students at the prestigious John L. Miller Great Neck North High School on Long Island.

A spokesman for the Educational Testing Service, which owns the SAT, reported to the Washington Post that all students who have another student take the test for them are caught. Sometimes a a handwriting expert may be called in if authorities believe you had someone else take the test for you.

Students can get caught cheating on their SAT or ACT a variety of ways. Both companies have anonymous hotlines to call with information about cheating. A proctor may catch you cheating and report it to the proper authorities.


The consequences for cheating on your college entrance exam aren’t too severe. Students are allowed to retake the SAT or ACT free of charge. They may choose to cancel their scores and colleges are not notified.

In the long run, if you choose to cheat on the SAT you are cheating yourself by getting into a college that you are not academically prepared for. You are also cheating another student who had the credentials to get into the school out of a spot that is rightfully hers.

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