No, I’m not going to tell you to cheat on the SAT.  But if you’re curious about how people have cheated on the exam,   I will share with you 5 ways that people have cheated on the SAT in the past.

Disclaimer: SupertutorTV does not endorse or condone cheating. Many of the methods about to be discussed involve breaking local and/or Federal laws and may result in criminal prosecution. Do not attempt.

#1. Steal The Test

One way that others have cheated or attempted to cheat on the SAT is by stealing a copy of the exam in advance.  Yes, it’s illegal.  Yes, it’s theft.  No, you shouldn’t do this at home.  But let’s say you did get a copy of the test– then you’d have to have someone very smart take the test, along with the “cheaters” (who would take a copy of the same test) and then you’d get something of an answer key from that smart person.The other cheaters then figure out what they missed and go over their wrong answers and focus on memorizing the right answers to those questions they struggled with.  Part of the trick is having them take the whole test — not just memorize letters — that makes what is “right” on tough problems easier to remember, and for easier questions students can just do their own work.

Such a scheme, at least in the US, would be highly difficult to pull off (remember that movie “The Perfect Score” … probably not, but that idea was similar.)  The tests are securely shipped by the College Board and are not opened until the morning of the test. The College Board counts all the tests shipped prior to the exam; then the test center must send back every single copy to College Board. Failure to do so could mean a security breach and could even lead to canceling all the scores for the entire test center of that day.  At minimum, a breach of security such as this would likely instigate a score delay and investigation–  in Asia in particular this has occurred several times during administrations of the old SAT.

In terms of people actually getting away with this, it seems for the most part, this sort of racket has gone down in Asia. China, in particular, has been plagued with so many cheating scandals that College Board has pulled out of that country entirely.  According to Time Magazine, similar scandals have arisen more recently in Korea, where an entire sitting of the exam was cancelled.

If you want to read more about how some kids in Korea saw an advance copy of a stolen test, among other scandals, read on here:

For the First Time, SAT Test Gets Canceled in an Entire Country


#2. Study from Old Unreleased Tests

Another long running cheating scandal, with roots in Asia, comes down to a much more insidious issue: students having access to illegally obtained past versions of official exams.  In China, for example, websites and test prep brokers were selling online .pdf copies of the March 2016 SAT within weeks of its administration.  The trend is not new, and these dodgy folks had distributed other past tests on the previous iteration of the SAT as well.  The reason this matters or has been a source of cheating is the fact that in the past, The College Board has occasionally recycled tests.  For example, they’ve used exams that have been official administrations in the US and repeated them after a period of two or more years in a different market (international test takers) or for special test dates (Sunday testing in the US).

Any students who had access to these “black market” tests could use them to study for the SAT — and though even some may have not meant any harm– if the particular test they studied from happened to be the recycled exam they were taking for an official sitting, those students had a huge advantage on the test.

We don’t know what they will do with the new SAT since it hasn’t been going on long enough to recycle.

That’s not to say that ANY exams you find floating around on the internet are illegally distributed and unreleased.  The College Board releases some tests and not others. There are three times a year when it releases certain exams, which they call a “question and answer service.” If you take the SAT in October, May, or January, you can pay extra money for College Board to mail you a physical copy of the exam, a few weeks after you receive your scores. The exams that most American students find on the internet are usually released exams for “question and answer service.”  When it comes to Asia, however, prep companies and brokers have used shadier and more aggressive means to obtain tests that the College Board did not mean to release.

So to hypothetically pull off this method of cheating, a few things need to occur.  First, the College Board has to continue down its naive path of recycling tests, and second, you would need to track down copies of these unreleased tests, study from these tests, and then take an exam on a “special” test date or in a foreign country more likely to administer a recycled test.

If there’s one type of cheating that the College Board has not clearly stepped up to address in the past — this is it.  Let’s hope with SAT version 2016 they wise up!

Want to read more on “Recycled Cheating Test” Scandals?

“SAT Security Breaches in Asia”

“U.S. Students Given SATs That Were Online Before Exam”

“College Board: Yes, people cheated on the old SAT, but let’s not talk about that”

“SAT Integrity Falls Victim to China Cheating Scandal”

#3. Create an Elaborate Earbud System

This is another example of a cheating scandal rumored to have gotten China kicked out of the SAT game. Students would  have an earbud connected to a smart person in another room with a copy of the test. That person would then do the test and tell the students what letter to put for every question.

If you’re wondering why you’re not allowed to wear earplugs or earbuds during the test, this is the reason.


#4. Hire Someone to Impersonate You

This scheme caught a wind of infamy in 2011 when a ring of cheaters in New York were indicted on charges of having been paid to impersonate other students to take the SAT for them. In the wake of the scandal, the College Board  increased its security measures and now requires a picture on student admissions ticket to make sure that the person on the ticket is the same person on the ID. Unless you’re an identical twin, getting away with this cheating scheme is unlikely.

Want to read more on “New York Cheating Test” Scandals?

“Exam Cheating on Long Island Hardly a Secret”

“20 Students Now Accused in L.I. Case on Cheating”

“SAT and ACT to Tighten Rules After Cheating Scandal”

“Students Accused of Cheating Are Expected to Turn Themselves In”

“13 More Arrested in SAT Cheating Scandal”


#5. Cheat the Old Fashioned Way

If you really want to cheat on the SAT, you could always do it the old fashioned way.  Look over the shoulder of someone sitting right next to you! However, cheating in this way is unlikely to yield reliable results.  You don’t pick who you sit next to in the exam, and the chances that the person next to you is more skilled at the test than you aren’t guaranteed. In addition, you might get caught, and if you are, not only will the College Board cancel your score but your school may subject you to disciplinary action. That could get you suspended from high school and blacklisted from colleges altogether.  Not exactly the outcome you probably were hoping for.

If you’re smart enough to pull off these elaborate schemes to cheat on the test, odds are you’re probably smart enough to do well on the SAT. Your best bet on the SAT is to STUDY, and we have just the right resources to help you accomplish that!