Law enforcement must take SAT cancellation seriously
The College Board, the administrator of the U.S. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), has called off the exam scheduled for Saturday, citing the possibility that some test questions had been leaked. This is the first time the test organizer has canceled a round of the college admission tests.
Judging from a statement released by the board, the cancelation was made in response to information from the prosecution "regarding tutoring companies in Korea that are alleged to have illegally obtained SAT and SAT subject test material for their own commercial benefits.'' In February, prosecutors raided eight private academics that provided SAT lessons in southern Seoul over suspicions they were selling questions from SAT tests they sourced in Southeast Asia.
The cancellation of the test could trouble innocent exam applicants who have been preparing hard to enter universities in the United States. This is all the more serious, given that the June exam can also be canceled although the board still says it will go ahead on schedule.
In fact, SAT tests have been leaked several times. In 2007, the ETS, the board's vendor for global test administration and security, canceled the scores of about 900 Korean students after discovering exam questions had been leaked. In 2010, police conducted an investigation after suspicions emerged that SAT tests had been leaked.
It's not difficult to reason why test leaks have occurred repeatedly in Korea. It is because parents and students want to obtain high scores even in illicit ways and tutoring companies will risk everything to source test questions. These incidents show a shameful aspect of our society that advocates the mistaken saying, "The end justifies the means.'' Against this backdrop, conscience no longer matters.
Cheating in tests has become so rampant that some students at prestigious universities have succeeded in being hired by broadcasters and large companies because of their high scores on TOEIC and TEPS exams earned through cheating. According to the Gwanak Police Station, these students paid a law school student and another company official to help them get high scores. They used wireless transmitters and other high-tech devices to achieve their aim.
The series of exam leaks and cheating are so serious that the damage is not confined to test takers alone. The incidents will taint the image of Korean students around the world, including in the U.S. What's most dreadful is that American universities may lose confidence in Korean students completely if these shameful incidents pile up.
It's awful that our innocent students will be branded liars as a whole because of some brazen parents and students who seek to get high scores by fair means or foul.
The government needs to be aware of the seriousness of the situation and take measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. Law enforcement should conduct a thorough investigation and let the suspects, including parents and students, pay the price. They must consider disclosing the list of prominent figures involved in the incidents, if necessary.