Did you ever retake an exam because somebody somewhere leaked the question paper? Oh boy! This is probably the worst reason possible to repeat a test. Months of hard work gone down the drain because of one person’s lack of ethics.

Apart from the irritating aspect of preparing once again to retake the exam, something like this also undermines your confidence in a test. This shaken confidence feeling further extends to the authority that oversees these competitive exams. In the case of the SAT, it is the College Board, the sole authority regarding everything SAT.

There have been breaches in the past on the SAT security too. The College Board has competently handled these issues. It has further strengthened its security protocols both before and on the day of the exam. For most part, as a diligent student aiming for an admission in a good college, you really do not have to bother about these issues. Just that, having the knowledge regarding these instances and the measures is ‘good to know’ to retain your confidence in the exam. How will you perform if you don’t trust the examiner?

Let’s look at key measures taken to maintain and retain SAT security:-

Intended Purpose

The SAT is mainly taken by millions of students worldwide to apply for higher education. This is the only and actual intended purpose of the SAT. But there are other reasons why someone takes the SAT. There are people who take the SAT to understand how it is modeled, like educators for instance. Their purpose is to know the pattern of the SAT so they can train students better to crack the SAT. There are other people who take the SAT for state funding. College Board has clear intended purpose policy that helps decide on the test dates based on the reason one is taking the exam.  Anyone found in breach of this policy stands the risk of score cancellation.

Question and Answer Service (QAS)

Question and Answer or QAS service in short, is the only exception to the rule of ‘never ever disclose any question on the SAT’. The disclosure by any means – text, SMS, email, chat or any other electronic/non electronic forms is not accepted. If you are found doing any of these (which I hope not!) your SAT exam and scores if applicable are cancelled. College Board provides a clear policy on QAS and how to go about it.  

These two points are super critical and hence important to understand from the point of view of a student. Your actions and choices before taking up the SAT need to factor in these two points.

There are other key security measures that are active on the SAT exam day and during the exam.

Photo ID

The photo ID is the most primary and a key tool to root out miscreants whose intention is plain mischief and not taking the SAT.  College board is particular that the photo should match the person reporting for the test. There are no two ways to go about this policy.

Ordered Tests

The SAT exam sections are ordered in a manner and the student is expected to respect and follow this order. You should not skip this order for your own sake. If found doing so, your exam stands cancelled.

Timed Tests

All sections of the SAT are timed. No student can go to the next section if he/she has few spare minutes on hand. The way the exam is designed it is not possible to do it. If you are one of those geniuses who somehow manage to do this, then the penalty is score cancellation.

Calculator, Mobile and Electronic Devices

You are allowed to use a calculator on the SAT, provided the calculator falls under the guidelines as mentioned by the College Board. Mobiles are a strict no. Then there are electronic devices. Should you carry your favorite mp3 player to the SAT? Well, you are going to the exam center to write a competitive exam and not for recreation, so the answer is no. Read up on the College Board’s phone and electronic device policy.

The College Board is proactive in scanning through various security threats that keep emerging, including cyber threats for paper leaks. It has taken various measures to maintain the sanctity of the SAT.

Some of new policies revised and made public in February 2017 include:-
  • Increased number of audits for test centers across the world

  • Collaborating with colleges with respect to student identity and reporting misuse

  • Anonymous reporting of malicious activity regarding the SAT

  • Taking in the cooperation of US law enforcement agencies to identify, report and act against people/parties responsible for breaches

It is really important for you as a student to identify all points that can lead to confidentiality breach with respect to SAT and not be a party to it. Your focus as an aspiring student should be to crack the SAT with best scores. You do your bit and let security measures taken by the College Board be your guardian.



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