College Confidential and Brain Dumping the SAT

SAT Scores Delayed for Asian International Students

The above is the official story put out by the Washington Post, which is far more informative than any other outlet I could find. However, Valerie Strauss put some other information in two blog entries:

On Oct. 8, 2014 — days before the Oct. 11 administration of the SAT — the National Center for Fair & Open Testing received an anonymous tip about cheating that included what the sender claimed to be a copy of the December 2013 SAT that was supposedly going to be administered at international sites Oct. 11. This was reported by Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the center, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the abuse of standardized tests commonly known as FairTest. He said FairTest tried to confirm the claims but could not.

According to Schaeffer, SAT tests given at international sites are “almost always” repeats of exams administered previously in the United States but not publicly released.

Students began to think that the October 2014 international version of the SAT was identical to the December 2013 U.S. version by Googling some vocabulary words and passage topics and finding that the 2013 test was the one that came up in discussions threads on “,” according to Schaeffer. It is not yet clear, however, whether the two tests are identical.

I’ll have more to say about the media coverage, but I got distracted by reading up on College Confidential. I’ve always been skeeved by the forum, but that’s because I’m usually researching the test threads which are almost certainly populated by Asians and Asian Americans. No doubt the forums have other purposes; I hear parents frequent them. Little has been written about the forum;the NY Times wrote a feature about it that seems out of date. Quantcast shows that Asians represent 13% of the users, considerably above average. 18-24 is the largest age group, 45-54 is second. So it’s clearly not just used for college tests.

Anyway, I read the college confidential thread, which was opened back in early November for the December test, but from page 4 to page 70 is nothing but brain dumps. The posters make reference to Tiny Chat, a conferencing chat room, and google docs, where they are clearly compiling a list of all the answers. Many posters are putting down all the answers they can remember, in specific detail. One poster lists all the math answers by section (page 57, 58, page 59):




A few weeks later, a new thread is opened for the December international test, held on December 7th—and posted so early that the thread date was December 6th (the forums on US time, I assume). In response to the creator’s query, another poster announces that the December international test was a reissue of the June 2012 test, and for good measure gives a table:

JAN 2013- MARCH 2010
MAY 2013- JUNE 2009
JUNE 2013- MARCH 2012
OCTOBER 2013- MARCH 2013
NOVEMBER 2013- JUNE 2011

One thread asked about the December 7 international test

The poster is then sent to the June 12th thread, where again, all the answers are put down. One person (poster name largeblackman. I am deeply skeptical) posts reading section answers.

These are the only two months I checked.

Someone reading this going to say “I did this back when I took the SAT. Chewed over everything I remembered with my friends, worried if we didn’t get the same answers.” Well, no. You didn’t do this. Some of the posters are going into shocking detail. They have question numbers, letter answers. A good chunk of the posters were clearly coordinating the creation of a complete document with all the questions and answers.

They were braindumping, an activity that Microsoft spends a lot of time and energy preventing, but the College Board seems to actively encourage by reusing old tests for international students.

No wonder Asians have such a strong preference for the SAT. The credulous press tends to believe in the super tutors of Asia, but they’re much more likely to be New Oriental “prep” methods revisited. Steal the test, then memorize everything on it. GMAT had similar issues.

Valerie Strauss quotes the head of an international school who caught a cheater: This is certainly organized crime.

I suppose it’s possible that all these posts at College Confidential are just 17-year-olds pranking each other. I find that unlikely. More probably, the posters in question aren’t all 17, but adults who are paid to go in and take the tests while photographing or at least memorizing as much of the test as is possible. Or at the very least, the posters are actual high school students coordinating information illegally. Certainly, someone should at least investigate: ask the owners to provide the IP addresses, actually read the threads, ask the posters to produce the google docs they mention, find the actual names of people who participated.

But universities want the Chinese money, and College Board wants the test fees, and the FBI has to keep watch on Ferguson so that Holder can admonish the grand jury when Darren Wilson isn’t indicted. Who has the time or inclination to investigate a possible organized criminal enterprise that’s corrupting our educational institutions?

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20 responses to “College Confidential and Brain Dumping the SAT

  • vijay

    need to differentiate between Asian Americans an Asians, and within Asian Americans; a large number of Asian Americans are not Chinese or Koreans. The word Asian is a horrible misnomer; the difference between Filipinos or Indians and Japanese is more than the variation between black and white Americans; economically,culturally, and socially.

    • educationrealist

      Understood. However, culturally, most Asians have similar issues around cheating. It comes from their weak government systems, I think.

      That said, while I suspect most of the kids here are Asian, I don’t know it, and didn’t say as much.

      • vijay

        I dont want to belabor this point, but:

        1. Asians in US are, composed of 1. Chinese , 2. Filipinos, 3. Indians, 4. Vietnamese, 5. Koreans, 6. Japanese and so on. There are few purely japanese children in US.

        2. Politically, socially, and culturally, the variation from Japan to India is larger than from the US to SubSaharan Africa. Japan is economically, politically closer to Minnesota, Sweden or Denmark, and India is closer to West Africa.

        I know I am kind of making your point here, but my only point was Tolstoyite; all happy countries are similar as in Maine, Canada or Japan or Finland; each unhappy nation is unhappy in its own way, as in India; or as in Mississippi.

      • educationrealist

        I’m well aware of the differences. I’ve said many times in the past that when I say “Asian” I usually mean Chinese/Korean/Indian. In this case I didn’t because I was talking about quantcast.

  • Vijay

    I would like to change the topic slightly, and ask for your take on Diane ravitch’s,s screed in NY review of books on China, and standardized testing.


  • retired

    As has been noticed here the swotters don’t get into colleges at the rate their metrics would suggest. In my experience, after graduation they do not get hired into jobs nor promoted commensurate with their academic credentials. Businesses need employees with ethics and social skills who can apply their knowledge, not just spit it back up on a test. However there is plenty of room in the cubicle farms for coders.

  • Lagertha

    Relax, everybody who cares about this stuff: SAT’s are being dumped for ACT’s this year, and, so many of the ‘Most Selective’ universities are eschewing BOTH tests all together this year- they are also stating that fact quite vociferously in their application material (which is quite amusing; the U’s are so unctuous about ” atypical/URM applicants!) . There is now a growing back-lash against EVERYTHING circa 2000 or so, as far as the “testing” part of the application.

    My brother, affiliated with Ivy Leagues, says it is now all about “blow my mind with your frickin’ unique experience/life story” essay. NO ONE with a pulse can cheat/game/master this feat since there is no template. You better be cool/mind-blowingly interesting enough to walk on this campus, in other words!

    People on the admissions board are paid to check the facts. In other words, the most selective U’s (others will follow like lemmings) are moving to an ‘ALL- ABOUT- YOU’ format that is impossible to game. I mean, heck, the essays (short and long, and, may I add, very esoteric) are not for mainstream, boring, uncreative, grade-drone students of any ethnic group/country! SAT’s and ACT’s were formerly used as just a ‘discard results lower than 700 per test; 32/composite’ method to get to the juicy stuff – the students who are the crazy-ass exceptionally gifted ones…

    Also, the short essay questions will change every year (big money for the College Board, btw, and, CB ARE so fracking beholden to the Ivy League cartel) so no country or ethnic group will ever have a god-given clue/advantage as to what the next “soul bearing” small essay topic will be about how to land your sorry-mainstream ass into your favored university.

    So, what I am trying to say is that there is almost a desperation to find the truly gifted student right now; the trailblazer; the genuine creative genius who may/may not have the GPA, usually has a high SAT/ACT….BUT they also have that special ‘magic.’ It is what the most revered Tech masters are talking/worrying about in SV. There is a desperate look-out for genius of any nationality. Usually, in my opinion, that talent is found in the soul-bearing short or long essays of a brainiac teenager with nothing to lose…a renegade, a true-blue soul. Everyone else is just part of the herd. When you write about yourself, you are bearing your soul.

    Finally, grade-drones/SAT drones/resume padding-drones are now slowly being treated with suspicion or even contempt by the Ivory Towers. And, foreign students, even with their full-tuition money – bring nothing to the table if they are not profoundly creatively gifted and kinda’ crazy. The USA and American students are still creating the MOST new technology/industry/discovery/breakthroughs in the world. There are MORE American students, former students who are millionaires and billionaires, who earn the most patents, establish the most companies, earn most Nobels, most awards of any kind. And, duh, it’s all about the money for elite U’s and flagship state U’s as far as successful, wealthy alumni.

    All American universities are on the look-out for potential geniuses who create the next lucrative industry/breakthrough. And, that person is not a “follower”, not meek, obedient, passive, rule-observer, grade-grind, low-social-ability type of person. You have to have courage and unrelenting intensity to be a trailblazer. Uniqueness can not be assessed by a test.

    • educationrealist

      Yeah, this is nonsense. Around the edges, sure, but they’re going by numbers. And they all want international students.

    • anonymousskimmer

      “NO ONE with a pulse can cheat/game/master this feat since there is no template. You better be cool/mind-blowingly interesting enough to walk on this campus, in other words! ”

      I recall reading an article by a Ph.D. (IIRC) laden mother who helped her son revise and revise his essay. He got in to Stanford and received feedback that it was his essay that did it. And his essay wasn’t nearly as good before her input.

      To her credit the mother was ambivalent about the situation and feedback.

    • DensityDuck

      “So, what I am trying to say is that there is almost a desperation to find the truly gifted student right now; the trailblazer; the genuine creative genius who may/may not have the GPA, usually has a high SAT/ACT….BUT they also have that special ‘magic.’ ”

      This sounds like a fucking press release.

      Admissions essays and resume-checking are even easier to game than the SATs. With an essay you can overdescribe, overestimate, overemphasize, and when all else fails just make stuff up. At least with the SATs you actually have to show up and put marks on paper.

      • momof4

        Yes. a few years back, I remember reading about a girl who had misrepresented some of her academics and took credit for extracurriculars she didn’t actually do, to the point that the Ivy which had accepted her rescinded her acceptance.

  • jjbees

    It’s even easier to game the social side of college application than the academic side.

    Asian parents in California are paying consultants to get their kid into ivy’s, the consultant charges 10-100k, and tells the kid to go to this tech startup after freshman year of high school, get your name on the end of this scientific paper (by sweeping up a lab or something), start this charity for 4year old literacy that accomplishes nothing. At the end of it all, you are still a grind, sweating your summer away doing nothing unique or original, but damn, you look like a get up and go kind of entrepreneur.

    It’s awful

  • Mark Roulo

    And now the BBC posts this:


  • Gordo

    And now the BBC posts this:


    That’s where the National Health Service get their ‘doctors’.

  • Braindumping the PSAT: A Few Questions for David Coleman | educationrealist

    […] first PSAT sitting, two parents (at least, I think they were parents), posted this this exchange on College Confidential (click to […]

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