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Security Breach Leads to Leaked SAT Biology Questions

Some students taking the SAT Biology Subject Test on June 1st may have had an unfair advantage, courtesy of Reddit.

FairTest’s Bob Schaeffer reports that the testing watchdog group received a call on the evening of May 31st from an anonymous source in East Asia, offering to send them a copy of the questions administered to students that evening. The call was followed by an email containing a full PDF of the test – the same test that was due to be administered to students in the U.S. a few hours later.

The breach might not have affected many students, had FairTest been the only recipients of the leaked questions. According to Inside Higher Ed, the questions were also posted to Reddit in the early hours of June 1st, Eastern Daylight Time, several hours before students were expected to be at their testing center. The College Board responded to Inside Higher Ed by acknowledging the breach

This leak is the latest in a series of security issues affecting college admissions testing. Last August, the SAT was hit by a large-scale cheating scandal caused by the College Board’s practice of reusing test questions from previous international testing administrations for U.S. students. ACT, Inc isn’t immune from security breaches either: last October, ACT, Inc was forced to cancel school-day testing due to security issues.  

Ongoing security issues have made the need for computer-adaptive testing more and more urgent. As our founder, Jed Applerouth, wrote last year, “even in the domestic market, paper-based, fixed test forms are not secure.” The international market is far more porous, and using the same test form for students taking the test at different times opens up opportunities for bad actors to game the system. The only way to fix the problem is to make the system more secure.  

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