SAT Cheating Scandal – Are You Tempted?

Samuel Eshaghof's SAT cheating scandal

SAT cheatingThe Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a standardized test used to qualify for college admission in the United States. Using the results of this test, college admission officers believe they will be able to assess a student’s readiness for college. Therefore, students consider this test a crucial part of college preparation. A low SAT score can make the difference between getting into a dream college and only being able to attend a low rated university.
Recently, a SAT cheating scandal was uncovered that has raised doubts about the validity of the exam. In a story that mirrors the pilot episode of the TV show “Suits”, it was found that many students had hired a gifted test taker to impersonate them at the SAT Testing Center.
Six high school students from Great Neck North High School, N.Y. were arrested because of allegedly cheating on the SAT exam. Samuel Eshaghoff, an alumnus of the same university, was taking the test on the behalf of the six students. He was reportedly paid $1,500 to $2,500 dollars for the service; according to a news release published Tuesday by Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney.
Samuel Eshaghoff was a graduate of the same high school in 2010, and went on to attend the University of Michigan and Emory University.
"Colleges look for the best and brightest students, yet these six defendants tried to cheat the system and may have kept honest and qualified students from getting into their dream school," Ms. Kathleen Rice stated. The six students were not named by prosecutors because of their ages.
How did Eshaghoff manage to game the SAT for his clients? He was using false IDs with his photo but with the test taker’s name. The subterfuge was brought to light when the faculty and staff heard rumors about students paying a third party to take the test for them. To avoid detection, the six students registered to take the test at a different school so that they would be unknown to the proctors and test officers. Administrators then identified six students who “had large discrepancies between their academic performance records and their SAT scores,” the prosecutor said. Ms. Rice added that some of Eshaghoff’s scores were above 2100, nearly getting 2400, which represents a perfect score on the test.
Apparently, Eshaghoff performed too well on the tests. If he had flubbed a few more answers, the students might not have been identified as outliers. Of course, if he did no better than their average, it would have been a waste of time to pay him.
The suspect, Eshagoff, is facing charges for fraud, falsifying business records, and criminal impersonation; which could result in a sentence of up to four years in prison. As the six students were minors, they were released without having to pay bail.
Ms. Rice, who also presided over the investigation into the SAT cheating scandal, suggested that test proctors should take extra precautions on the tests. She also offered that photographing the students and sending the photos to their homes for identification might be necessary.
But ETS, the nonprofit organization that administers the SAT test under the auspices of the College Board, maintains that their current system is adequate to catch cheaters. ETS does not notify colleges or high schools when students are suspected of cheating, but instead cancels their scores and offers suspected cheaters a refund, a free re-test, or the opportunity to arbitrate.
After this SAT cheating scandal, many students now feel that cheating on the SAT test is a valid option. As the stakes get higher and higher for college entrance exams, affecting not only entrance to a desired school, but also the type of grant or financial aid that a student may receive; more and more students are looking for ways to get around the tough but necessary test.
Although no other adults were charged, it seems strange that High School Seniors had no difficulty coming up with amounts ranging from $1500.00 to $2500.00 to pay off the impersonator.

For those interested in improving their SAT scores by non-illicit means and decreasing their chances of being flagged as cheaters or be involved in a SAT cheating scandal, I have a few suggestions:

1.        Use a reputable SAT preparation service, such as the highly recommended Kaplan program.

2.        Apply yourself to your homework and class participation. Note that the students were flagged due to writing a test much better than their grades indicated.

3.        Review the other memory training and test taking tips on this website to improve your grades and test taking abilities.

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