By Bahk Eun-ji
Police launched an investigation into an alleged leak of test papers for the U.S. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) conducted on Oct. 5.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Friday that it is investigating private institutes that provide SAT lectures in Gangnam District in southern Seoul. The investigation will mainly target two institutes.
Police said they will focus on how the two institutions obtained the March test questions conducted in the U.S., the same set of tests given to candidates in Korea on Oct.5.
College Board, one of the co-administers of the test, oversees the question banks system for SAT, and it doesn't provide sample tests.
Police will investigate whether there were professional brokers for the question leaks and whether lecturers were involved in the crime. They will also investigate how these private institutes are operated.
College Board and Education Testing Service (ETS) ㅡ the two administers of the test _ also take the latest test leaks seriously and said they are willing to cooperate with the police for the investigation.
"At this time, ETS and the College Board have no reason to suspect that any Korean test takers gained unfair advantage on the October SAT test but we take such matters seriously and will thoroughly look into any credible information received," the College Board said in a statement.
After a series of question leaks in Korea, College Board has cut the number of SATs administered in the nation from six to four.
SAT is usually held six times ㅡ in January, May, June, October, November and December ㅡ but the test administer decided at the beginning of July that it will cancel two sessions that were scheduled for January and November for the 2013-2014 academic year.
The decision came after another question leak at some SAT cram schools in Korea when the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) and the Ministry of Education shut down after a prosecution investigation on June.
Critics claim that the education authorities should strengthen their monitoring of the SAT private institutes in order to prevent a recurrence of the leaks.
"There are 88 SAT schools in Gangnam and it is hard to set plans for inspections with only suspicions. We are also waiting for police investigation results," said an official of SMOE.