How can I cheat on the SAT?

Matt Larriva
Mar 17, 2020

This is an interesting question, and I’ll answer because I assume you’re asking in a hypothetical sense rather than an pragmatic sense. That is, I am not encouraging using any of these methods and strongly condemn cheating in this or any setting. I am answering this question also because the CollegeBoard and The ACT organizations have done very poor jobs at securing their exams, and the organizations should take this more seriously.

PrepScholar did a good article about this

But first: where did Aaron’s answer go?

In the future, you will get less biased answers if you ask your question in the passive voice (i.e., how could cheating be done by someone on the SAT?) or from an intellectual curiosity stance (i.e., what are some of the biggest vulnerabilities of the SAT’s method of test-proctoring?) or even from a historical standpoint (i.e. has anyone ever successfully cheated on the SAT?).

As an intellectual experiment, it’s always fun to play around with the taboos: ‘how could I rob a bank and not get caught?’, ‘how would I steal a rare book and resell it without someone noticing?’

Many people have cheated successfully on the SAT mostly through

  1. identity fraud
  2. access to the material early, either by accident or intentionally
  3. communication during the test

Then we can think about some other methods that are possible in a both traditional hacking and non-technical hacking standpoint:

  1. Time-zone hacking: the East coast will be done with the SAT before Hawaii heads to the test centers. (easy fix for the SAT: give different tests to different locales)
  2. Accommodation hacking: extra time is given to students who have an Individualized Education Plan. (I don’t think anyone would do this—it would be massively involved and have huge repercussions outside the test)
  3. Communication: bathroom breaks with cell phones. (easy fix for the SAT: require students to bring cell phones and hand them in)
  4. Section jumping: move back to different sections during the Experimental section and rework left-over problems (easy fix for the SAT: give the sections independently)

Obviously: don’t cheat on the test. I post this so that the SAT and ACT organizations get their acts together about security and stop pretending like it’s out of their hands.