- According to a criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice, the alleged ringleader of the college admissions scandal, William Singer, took a number of steps to avoid being detected by the SAT score review process.
- Prosecutors say Singer made students get extra time for the exams so they could take them in controlled environments in which Singer could bribe test center administrators.
- He is also seen in court documents telling one parent he couldn’t guarantee the man’s daughter a 1550 out of 1600 on the SAT because he didn’t want to be investigated.
- As part of the scheme, prosecutors say the man who helped students boost their SAT and ACT scores would make sure students answered different questions correctly so the exams would not be similar.
The College Board has extensive measures put in place to flag up students who may have cheated on the SAT, but it appears those involved in the $US25 million college admissions scandal may have found ways around the system.
A criminal complaint released by the Department of Justice on Tuesday said parents paid between $US15,000 and $US75,000 to have William Singer – the alleged ringleader of the cash-for-college scheme-guarantee a specific ACT and SAT test score for students.
Prosecutors allege that Singer would organise for a proctor to help students with the questions, correct answers after the students finished the exams, or take the exams in place of the students.
But to avoid getting caught for cheating, Singer took several steps to lie under the radar of the SAT’s unfair advantage algorithm, according to the criminal complaint.
College entrance exams have systems in place to combat cheating.
The College Board told INSIDER that it has an extensive process to make sure SAT scores are valid. The ACT has a similar procedure.
With the SAT, the College Board conducts statistical analysis on every answer document it receives, and flags ones that could have validity concerns.
A high score alone can’t raise a flag for the College Board, but that combined with other factors – like similar answers to another person or group, the discovery of a cheat sheet, or the absence of scratch work – can.
There is then an official investigation by College Board officials, which looks into a number of factors, like which questions were answered correct and incorrect, the amount of work shown in scratch work for maths sections, and the number of eraser marks.
The College Board does not consider race, gender, geographical location, or name when investigating – documents are based on the student’s registration number, which is given at random. Tests with similar answers can be flagged even if one student is in California and the other is in Connecticut.
William Singer actively avoided getting caught by exam officials, according to court documents.
It appears that only two students whose college entrance exam scores were altered by Singer’s scheme had taken the exams previously, according to court documents.
According to the complaint, the daughter of Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez saw her SAT score jump 320 points to 1900 out of 2400 when the Singer’s proctor intervened.
The daughter of Robert Flaxman saw her ACT score jump from a 24 to a 28, the complaint said.
The rest of the students whose scores were altered had never taken the exam before, so there was no previous scores to compare with their results.
Still, Singer tried to keep super high scores to a minimum, according to the criminal complaint.
In a conversation with Agustin Huneeus, Jr., who is accused of participating in the scheme, Singer said he could not get Huneeus’s daughter a 1550 out of 1600 on the SAT, according to the criminal complaint.
“I would have been investigated for sure based on her grades,” he told Huneeus, according to the complaint, apparently referring to her GPA not being worthy of that high of an SAT score.
Singer also instructed parents to have their children purport to have learning disabilities so they could be granted extra time to take the exam, thus allowing them to take it in a room separate from many other children, according to the criminal complaint.
He said he needed to “control the center” for the scheme to work, so he could have specific proctors and administrators located at specific testing centres where the students would take these exams, the criminal complaint said.
Prosecutors say Singer would bribe exam administrators and proctors to help with the scheme.
Singer allegedly bribed two test center administrators – Niki Williams and Igor Dvorskiy – so students could take the exam alongside a proctor, have the proctor take the exam for them, or correct their answers when they were finished, according to the criminal complaint.
Once in the exam room, Mark Riddell – who is accused of either helping students cheat or taking the exams for them – also stayed under the radar of the algorithm when it came to answering the questions.
According to court documents, Riddell would have each exam “answer different questions incorrectly in an effort to conceal their cheating.”
The College Board told INSIDER that at its 6,000 SAT test centres, it’s very rare to find less-than-honest proctors, and that a large number of employees take the job very seriously.
In a statement to INSIDER, a College Board spokesman said: “The College Board has a comprehensive, robust approach to combat cheating, and we work closely with law enforcement as part of those efforts. We will always take all necessary steps to ensure a level playing field for the overwhelming majority of test takers who are honest and play by the rules.”
- Read more:
- Students are suing the schools involved in the college admissions scandal – but experts say it’s a dead end
- What will actually happen to the powerful millionaires ensnared in the college admissions scandal
- Several coaches tied to the college admissions scam have been fired or placed on leave – here’s what they are accused of doing
- The college admissions scandal came to the FBI by accident, when an unrelated fraud suspect revealed it in a bid for leniency, report says
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