For many students applying to college, the SAT is the one defining moment of their future. With the importance of scores in mind, students deal with the pressure of the exam in different ways.
At a recent Sunday evening SAT class taught by Cy Williams, the room bustled with activity.
One student leaned over his textbook, his eyes darting back and forth as he scribbled his answers and whipped through the pages. Another student sketched a crocodile on the margin of his book, pausing to text someone back on his cell phone.
The course, taught by Williams at his home, helps students prepare for the SAT. Whether it’s with expensive classes or hefty textbooks, most students feel pressure to do well on the test.
If only there was a way to sidestep the hours of pouring over the books but still get good scores. For some students, the answer is simple: Cheat.
Seven teenagers from Long Island were recently arrested after being caught cheating on the SAT. The teenagers had hired a college student to take the test for them.
Various videos on YouTube demonstrate how to cheat on the SAT, from taping answers to pens to supposed magic multiple choice patterns. Some strategies include discussing answers in the bathroom or texting solutions during the test.
“My grandmother’s friend knew someone who made fake IDs for people who would take the SAT for you,” junior Chloe Jones said.
However, Jones does not believe SAT cheating occurs often. “It’s probably not that huge of a problem,” Jones said.
Senior Rachel Shi took the SAT her junior year. “I have heard a lot [about people cheating],” Shi said.
According to other students, cheating is not that simple.
“I’d feel really guilty if I cheated,” junior Tara Halsted said.
Drawing the line between moral integrity and a promising future by cheating is harder than it might seem. Senior Corinna Kron says she wouldn’t do anything if she saw a student copying somebody’s answers during the SAT.
“I wouldn’t tell on them because they are trusting another person with their future. They don’t know how well the other person will do, so if the other person messes up, they mess up,” Kron said.
“They would end up getting caught anyway,” she said.
Halsted believes students should not cheat. However, “I don’t know what I’d do [if I saw someone cheating],” she said.
Opinions about how often SAT cheating occurs are also varied.
“I would not be concerned [about cheating on the SAT] ever,” Williams said. “I’m not sure how someone would cheat; it’d be really hard.”
Kron, who has taken the PSAT, believes cheating occurs “at least one person per test.”
Williams believes there is a connection between cheating on the SAT and pressure to do well.
“SAT scores are something colleges look at. There are score requirements for certain schools,” he said.
For Shi, the pressure to do well is intertwined with the fact that English is her second language.
“As a second language learner, the SAT is a big problem for me. If I want to get into a good college, I have to do well on the SAT,” Shi said.
For many students, doing well on the SAT is the bottom line.
For Kron, this means studying. “I’m taking SAT prep classes, working out of two college prep books, and use SAT flashcards,” she said.
The students in the SAT class continue their activities. The lights are dimmed, pencils are flying, and the clock is ticking.