Students Cheating on the SAT – nothing new, except now they are getting caught…

This report in the Washington Post does not raise any alarm bells, but rather confirms what has been happening for a number of years now. Students feel the pressure and resort to cheating. What makes this so disturbing is the way cheating is done and to what lengths students, together with the help of agents and agencies in China, are willing to go. It is no secret that students have cracked the SAT’s which may be imbedded in Chinese recent history, but now universities have finally woken up. And I am not sure if there is a solution, other than instilling a code of honor in all agents and agencies and students that says, if you cheat, you can’t come in – PERIOD.

Cheating concerns force delay in SAT scores for South Koreans and Chinese

October 30 at 8:15 PM
Concerns about possible cheating on the SAT in Asia have led test overseers to withhold scores for students from China and South Korea who took the college admission exam nearly three weeks ago.The nature and extent of the alleged security breach were unclear Thursday because the College Board and its contractor, the Educational Testing Service, revealed few details about the unfolding investigation. But the score-reporting delay could affect thousands of students seeking admission to U.S. colleges as November deadlines loom for early applications.

“Based on specific, reliable information, we have placed the scores of all students who are current residents of Korea or China and sat for the Oct. 11 international administration of the SAT on hold while we conduct an administrative review,” the College Board and ETS said in a joint statement. “The review is being conducted to ensure that illegal actions by individuals or organizations do not prevent the majority of test-takers who have worked hard to prepare for the exam from receiving valid and accurate scores.”

An international admissions counselor and the leader of an admissions and counseling network told The Washington Post that some students at test centers in other Asian countries reportedly were caught checking smartphones to get cribbed answers to SAT questions while taking the exam.

The alleged cheating cast a spotlight on a critical academic pipeline. China and South Korea are the top two suppliers of foreign undergraduates in the United States. There were more than 93,000 Chinese and 38,000 South Korean undergraduates in U.S. colleges in the 2012-2013 school year, according to the Institute of International Education.

The College Board has declined to say how many students per foreign country take the SAT. But it is likely that most Chinese and South Korean applicants do. For many, Oct. 11 was a key test date because it was the last administration of the test before early applications start to come due on Nov. 1.

Matthew Lee, of Fairfax County, an education consultant for college-bound students in Korea, said his clients were “devastated” when they heard the Oct. 11 results were delayed. Some worry that scores will be invalidated and they will have to take the test over again.

“They worked so hard over the summer,” he said. Lee said some parents wonder if their children should register for the test in another country, in case colleges harbor any suspicions about scores from tests taken in South Korea.

The College Board, a nonprofit organization based in New York, sought to allay concerns. It said scores “will be returned as quickly as possible” in November. “The College Board will make universities aware of the circumstances and can supply students with a letter to share with the schools to which they are applying,” the organization said in a statement.

At George Washington University in the District of Columbia, which recruits heavily from China and South Korea, a senior official said that a delay in score reporting would not disadvantage applicants from those countries. “We don’t want prospective students who’ve done nothing wrong to be worried about a negative impact on their applications,” said Laurie Koehler, GWU’s senior associate provost for enrollment management.

The College Board said the SAT is given in more than 175 countries, at more than 1,000 testing centers outside the United States. The only testing allowed in China, officials said, is at international schools. That means Chinese students typically go to Hong Kong or another country to take the SAT.

Scores are being withheld for all Chinese and Korean residents, according to the College Board, regardless of where they took the test.

College Board and ETS officials said the rules for test administration are no different whether it is given in San Francisco or Seoul. Cellphones and other portable computing devices are prohibited, with an exception for approved calculators during the mathematics assessment. Test proctors enforce rules, sometimes with help from private security firms.

Exactly what prompted the investigation is unclear. The College Board/ETS statement on Wednesday denounced “organizations that seek to illegally obtain test materials for their own profit, to the ultimate detriment of all students.” That indicated a concern that test questions were circulating illicitly in advance or during the exam.

Paul Kanarek, a senior vice president for the test-preparation company Princeton Review, which has operations in Asia, said the educational culture in China and South Korea puts a huge premium on test scores. He said some tutors will try any tactic, including stealing questions in advance, to help their students get an edge. “There is enormous pressure and incentive to take advantage by hook and by crook,” Kanarek said.

On Thursday, there were signs that test integrity questions were being raised outside of South Korea and China.

Ffiona Rees, president of the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling, wrote in an e-mail:

“From what I understand from our Facebook group, there were several cases where our members (not in China or Korea) found significant instances of student fraud — including a student with entire pages of the SAT scanned on the phone. The student had the entire test with answers and essay already completed.”

Joachim Ekstrom, a counselor at NIST International School in Bangkok — a site where some Chinese visitors took the test — wrote in an e-mail that one student was caught using an iPhone.

“Her mistake was that she checked the notes on her phone during testing, and one of the proctors noticed it,” Ekstrom wrote. “As I searched her phone I saw that it was full of messages including the day’s ‘correct’ test answers for each section.”

Tom Ewing, a spokesman for ETS, said he could not discuss specific reports of possible cheating. He also declined to elaborate on the scope of the investigation. “We’re really not . . . detailing how many students are affected,” he said.

Michael Alison Chandler contributed to this report.

Chinese ‘Power Couple’ Defends Harvard Donation

how is this any different from anyone else giving money to support higher learning by supporting any given university…? they are being blamed at home for “taking money away from the chinese students and giving it to america…” this sounds a little bit too much like old school communist thought to me… after all, whom would they be giving the money to in china..?

-Andreas Kristinus

Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the couple who co-founded China’s largest commercial real estate company and donated $15 million to the University last July, shared their views on education and philanthropy with hundreds of students on Wednesday in a filled Science Center B.

The pair, which Forbes dubbed one of the “World’s Most Powerful Couples,” currently heads the real estate developer SOHO China Ltd. as well as the philanthropic organization SOHO China Foundation.

Shiyi Cheery About Education

Philanthropist Pan Shiyi speaks about his scholarship donation and the importance of education in the Science Center on Wednesday. Shiyi and his wife Zhang Xin started the SOHO Scholarship foundation, aimed at bringing Chinese students to elite universities.

Last July, the foundation launched the $100 million “SOHO China Scholarship” to provide financial aid for Chinese students to study at the world’s top universities, starting with a $15 million gift to Harvard.

Co-hosted by Harvard China Fund and several Chinese students’ groups on campus, Wednesday’s event was conducted mostly in Chinese because many audience members were Chinese nationals.

William C. Kirby, a professor of Chinese studies, introduced the couple by recounting their respective rags-to-riches stories.

Zhang worked as a factory girl before studying in the United Kingdom on financial aid. Similarly, the opportunity to go to college was life-changing for Pan, who was born in rural China.

“To both of them, education was key to later success. They know the transformative power of learning,” Kirby said, after calling their donation “a gift of transformational proportions.”

“I’ve always thought that one’s relationship with society is in an equilibrium. The more you give, the more you will gain,” Pan said in Chinese.

The couple, who has a combined 25 million fans on the Chinese Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo, faced severe criticism in China after announcing their donation to Harvard.

“People have been saying that we are taking money from the Chinese people before giving it away to Americans. Many have hurled us doubts and even invectives,” Pan said. “But we can’t live for these doubts. As long as we think it’s the right thing, we will keep doing it.”

Currently, eight Chinese students at Harvard College have benefitted from the SOHO China Scholarship.

“Eight scholars is a drop in the ocean,” Zhang said. “We can’t solve all the problems in China’s education system, but this serves as an example.”

Zhang said that even though China produced close to 10 million high school graduates last year, less than 500 applied to Harvard College.

“Many Chinese families are not aware of the financial options [offered by American colleges],” she said. “Through our public profile, we hope that more Chinese students will see this as a potential future.”

Some Chinese students have reacted positively to the scholarship.

“It’s going to have a lot of ripple effect[s]…. I would expect more and more donors coming from mainland China to replicate this,” said Sicong Shan, president of Harvard Chinese Students and Scholars Association and a student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. HCSSA was one of four co-hosts of the event.

“This is a better way of using their money than if they go and purchase more real estate [properties],” said Yang Du, another GSAS student who attended the event.

Tianxing Lan ’18, one of the eight beneficiaries of the donation, said the total amount of financial aid that he was receiving from Harvard was not increased by the SOHO China Scholarship.

“I think for now, there hasn’t been a big influence on whether more Chinese students will apply to Harvard, because you can get financial aid anyway,” said Lan, referring to Harvard’s need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid policy for international students.

“But if they continue to give money to schools that don’t give a lot of financial aid to Chinese students such as Stanford and Duke, that would influence people’s decisions to apply to those schools,” Lan said.

—Staff writer Zara Zhang can be reached at