SAT scam as a business

Cliché: Business as usual.    
POCS Reality: College admission testing is a big business.


The recent 60 Minutes interview with accused Long Island SAT cheater Sam Eshaghoff showed how cheating on the SAT can be run like a business.

Key elements are satisfying clients with reliable service and providing a good product. With 16 test-taking times worth of high SAT scores to boast, word of Eshaghoff’s success spread until it reached the ears of officials at his alma mater, Great Neck North High School, who notified the proper authorities. Arrests of both test taker and test hirers were made and charges filed.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice called the 19-year-old Emory University sophomore an “academic gun for hire” leading to a “huge fraud…lots of money changing hands, there were high stakes involved, and there was forgery; there was criminal impersonation.” She also described SAT scams as a nationwide “big business” that has been going on for decades with a big pay-off and little risk sometimes run by middlemen brokers who match test hirers with test takers.

How big was the money? Eshaghoff recieved an $1,100 tip for fees up to $2,500 and there were bidding wars for his service.

High scores on the SAT college admission test can increase chances for admission and eligibility for financial aid based on merit. Colleges seeking a diverse student body will not take all, even if qualified, students but high SAT scores can improve a schools’ ranking. As an inducement for sought-after students to attend, merit money can be offered.

Colleges are not informed when test results occur from SAT scams. Admitted students with fraudulently obtained higher scores can hurt honest, hard-working students when the former gets one of the few admission spots or a higher financial aid award.

According to the records of ETS, the test administrators, 3 million students take the SATs and 99% of them are honest or at least not found to be cheating. ETS is concerned there may be an overreaction to the SAT scandal.

READ more: SAT scam was a successful LI business

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: SAT scores are an important factor in the college admission process and warrant appropriate safeguards, reporting methods and penalties for fraud to protect the integrity of the college admission process. Sadly, such fraud seems to be a well-known local secret waiting to be publicized by courageous and honest students, parents, school officials and other community members.