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SAT, ACT Testing to Require Photo IDs to Prevent Cheating

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The SAT and ACT have undergone multiple changes over the years, but new security requirements will be enforced this fall as an effort to prevent cheating. Beginning in in the fall of 2012, students taking the SAT or ACT will have to submit photographs of themselves when registering for the popular college entrance exams.

The Washington Post reports that the key security upgrade is due in part to a cheating scandal that rocked several elite Long Island high schools last fall. (According to USA Today, seven New York teenagers were arrested in September 2011 after hiring a brainy college student to take the SAT in their place. In hopes of earning high scores on the entrance exam, the college student was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 to take the test while posing as the teenagers.)

Photos Required to Register for SAT or ACT

The submitted photos, which can be uploaded at the time of registration or mailed to the testing agency for scanning, will be printed on the students’ test admission tickets as well as the test site roster. Students must then present photo identification when arriving for the exam and IDs will be checked after breaks and when answer sheets are turned in.

The pictures will even be attached to students’ SAT and ACT scores when they are reported to high schools and colleges. “We will get Johnny Jones’s SAT scores with a picture. That will add security to the process,” Henry L. Grishman, superintendent of schools in Jericho, on Long Island, explained to the media.

Students Cheating on the SAT are Reason for Security Changes

According to The New York Times, the heightened SAT and ACT testing security measures were announced on Tuesday, March 27 by Nassau County district attorney Kathleen M. Rice, whose office charged 20 teenagers from five New York high schools. She said that as many as 50 students may have been involved in the 2011 SAT cheating scandal. “Those who try to cheat will be caught. A fake ID simply won’t work to game the system anymore," Rice told Newsday during a press conference on Tuesday, reports MSNBC.

Inside Higher Ed quotes Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, as stating that the new standardized testing system “is likely to reduce significantly, if not eliminate entirely, the likelihood of impersonators entering an exam center.” However, he also adds that photos and proof of identification will not be able to stop wandering eyes and copying answers once students are actually taking the exams.

Sam Eshaghoff, the 19-year-old whiz kid who confessed to taking the SAT for money and consistently scoring in the 97th percentile, appeared on 60 Minutes and explained that he considered himself a businessman with clients. Eshaghoff saw little wrong with acing the test to help teenagers get into their dream colleges. “I mean a kid who has a horrible grade point average, who no matter how much he studies is gonna totally bomb this test, by giving him an amazing score, I totally give him this like, a new lease on life,” he said.

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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