From the New York Times:
Chinese and South Korean Students Face Fallout From Suspicions of SAT Cheating
By EDWARD WONG and RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA OCT. 30, 2014
BEIJING — The announcement by administrators of the SAT college entrance test that scores are being withheld for students from China and South Korea who took the exam earlier this month has infuriated many and raised anxiety about what for a number of them is a high-stakes college application process.
The Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test worldwide, said Wednesday that it was withholding the scores of those who took the test on Oct. 11, at least temporarily, because of suspicions of cheating “based on specific, reliable information.” The company referred in a statement to “organizations that seek to illegally obtain test materials for their own profit, to the ultimate detriment of all students. …
The Institute of International Education estimates that from 2012 to 2013, China accounted for 29 percent of foreign students at American colleges and universities, and South Korea 9 percent. Those were the largest and third-largest contributors to the international student pool in the United States, while India was second, at 12 percent.
In recent years, SAT administrators have uncovered several cases of widespread cheating on the exams and taken action. In particular, people at some test preparation schools were accused of acquiring and sharing test questions in advance.
In 2007, administrators voided 900 SAT scores from South Korea. Last year, administrators canceled an exam in South Korea scheduled for May 2013 after accusations of attempts at widespread cheating were reported in the domestic news media. That forced some of the 1,500 South Korean students who had signed up for the exam to scramble to apply to take the exam elsewhere.
In November 2013, South Korean prosecutors said they had indicted eight “SAT brokers” who had hired students to memorize questions of exams taken abroad or posed as test-takers themselves, using secret cameras to take pictures of questions. Prosecutors also indicted 22 managers and teachers at test preparation companies in South Korea for buying the illegally acquired SAT data.
In both South Korea and China, academic cheating has been a long-running problem. Professors, officials and celebrities have been exposed for having plagiarized dissertations or even faked degrees.
South Korea is known for its hypercompetitive educational system, and several of its high schools are famous for astounding placement rates at Ivy League colleges and universities.
Elite Chinese schools have yet to reach the same placement levels, but test preparation companies and college application consultancies have proliferated in recent years. Middle-class and wealthy Chinese parents are spending large sums of money to try to bolster their children’s chances of getting into a respected college abroad.