Standardized Test Issues - SAT

The second half of high school is a stressful time. When you're a junior or senior, you're a full-time student—yet, somehow, you're also planning the rest of your future, you're managing your college applications and admissions statuses and long-term academic dreams, and you're taking tests that could seemingly dictate your success for the next decade.

There's a lot going on. The last thing you need is a misconduct allegation surrounding a high-stress subject: The SAT. Long seen as a rite of passage for high school students, the Scholastic Assessment Test represents both a hurdle and an opportunity for students to set themselves apart.

However, it's also a highly regulated experience that can trigger a lot of attention and hard feelings. In recent years, the College Board—the entity that administers the SAT—has noted a rise in the occurrences of students cheating on this standardized test. In its efforts to curb cheating, College Board has doubled down on many of its procedural requirements and recommended harsh discipline to those allegedly involved in misconduct. Students have seen their hard-earned scores canceled. They have learned that they may not be able to retake the test. They have had to reroute their futures as a result of these decisions.

If you're approaching the SAT and suspect that similar treatment may be in your future or if you've already taken it and have received alarming allegations, breathe. This doesn't have to happen to you. By teaming up with an experienced student defense lawyer, you can take control of your future.

What Is the SAT? Who Takes It, and Why?

The SAT, or the Scholastic Assessment Test (previously known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test) is an examination that the College Board sets for students worldwide. Colleges in the United States use the standardized scores that high school students achieve on this test as a tool to aid college admission decisions.

The SAT covers reading, writing, and mathematics competencies. While anyone can take it, a typical student might sit this exam during their junior year of high school for the first time. They might then retake it senior year if they would like to see an increase in their scores.

The SAT is offered several times each calendar year, typically on an early Saturday morning. The test is lengthy; without the optional essay portion, it requires three hours of a student's time. (With the essay portion, the test-taking time increases to 3 hours and 50 minutes.)

College Board releases many different test-preparation materials, including practice test questions, online. There are also myriad agencies or other avenues that students can turn to for support while preparing to take this important test.

Applying for the SAT and Avoiding Accusations

When you're putting together your information to apply for the SAT, it's important to make sure that you're not misrepresenting yourself or sending in false data. The College Board wants to make sure it knows exactly who's taking their test—so they've created strict guidelines to help lead the application process.

Misconduct related to the application for the SAT primarily involves providing incorrect information to the College Board. This could be as simple as using an informal name on your application, but the idea could extend to writing down an incorrect school, an old address, or any of the other pieces of information that the SAT application requires.

The College Board seeks to avoid instances of students taking the test for other people, among other more severe types of misconduct. This heightened security awareness could result in a simple error turning into something much bigger, unfortunately—which could result in disciplinary action.

Misconduct During Test Administration

The College Board has provided a document enumerating the rights and responsibilities of students who seek to take the SAT.

Firstly, the Board wishes to create an atmosphere of strict security surrounding the test event itself. Therefore, the Board advises that in order to gain admission to the test-taking facility, you'll need to bring a photo ID and your admission ticket. It will be up to the test center facilitator to compare the information you provide and grant you access to the building. College Board notes that the facilitators can deny admission, choose not to score your test, or even cancel your score due to any discrepancies related to your ID or photo—for example, if the photo does not match their requirements, or if you have a nickname on your ticket that doesn't match your full name on your ID.

In addition, College Board has a very lengthy list of items that you cannot bring into the testing facility. If you are caught with any of these prohibited items, you could merit disciplinary attention due to SAT testing misconduct.

These prohibited items include:

  • Mobile phones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, or other wearable technology (simple non-digital watches are acceptable)
  • Audio players or recorders, tablets, laptops, notebooks, Bluetooth devices (e.g., wireless earbuds/headphones), or any other personal computing devices
  • Free-standing timers
  • Cameras
  • Pens, highlighters, or mechanical or colored pencils
  • Books or references of any kind
  • Compasses, rulers, protractors, or cutting devices
  • Papers of any kind, including scratch paper
  • Earplugs
  • Unacceptable calculators
  • Weapons or firearms

There are exceptions made in some cases regarding a subset of these items based on need—e.g., for students with learning disabilities who require specific, pre-approved test-taking support. However, for the most part, the use of any of these items could merit score cancellation or other punitive measures.

In addition to prohibited materials and items, there are also prohibited behaviors before, during, and after test administration. If anyone accuses you of any of the following, College Board or similar authorities may take action against you or your hard-earned scores:

  • Cheating (or in any way working to achieve an unfair advantage)
  • Taking test questions, responses, or essay topics from the testing room—including through the process of memorization
  • Accessing any part of the test center you do not have access to, or accessing the test center prior to or after the test, to obtain illicit information
  • Looking forward or back through the test booklet when you're expected to work on a specific section
  • Attempting to give other people assistance during the test administration
  • Discussing the test with any identifying information before, during, or after the test
  • Communicating with another person in any way (aside from respectfully flagging down a proctor for an emergency or related reason) during the test administration
  • Keeping a mobile phone on your person during the test instead of handing it in during the initial collection
  • Sharing a calculator
  • Using a