Prosecution indicts group for leaking SAT questions

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Prosecution indicts group for leaking SAT questions

Prosecutors said yesterday that they have indicted 21 people, including eight brokers, for illegally leaking and circulating questions for the SAT Reasoning Test, a standardized exam used for admission by most universities in the United States.

An additional suspect currently serving in the military was sent to the military prosecution for legal proceedings.

The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said that following a nine-month investigation, most of the collected questions were illegally disseminated among English cram schools, which have already seen their reputations tarnished after a string of controversial incidents regarding the test.

The 22 individuals are suspected of illegally collecting and distributing entrance exam questions without approval from the New York-based College Board, which owns the SAT, therefore violating copyright laws.

One of the 22 suspects, surnamed Kim, 28, who runs an SAT preparatory academy in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, traveled to Guam in March last year and sneaked in a mini-camera to take photos of SAT questions, prosecutors said. He was ultimately caught by a test administrator, they added.

That did not, however, defer him from cheating. Two months after the incident, Kim paid four workers at his institute 100,000 won ($94) each to take the SAT and memorize the questions.

The academy owner then accumulated the illegally-obtained questions and used them in his classes.

The prosecutors said Kim’s institute enjoyed a high enrollment of students as word spread among parents that he had access to a wide range of SAT questions.

Another suspect, also surnamed Kim, 22, accumulated 220 million won by selling leaked SAT questions via the Internet on 358 occasions.

According to prosecutors, one language institute owner paid 47 million won to a broker to obtain leaked questions.

The latest scandal over the leaked SAT questions is nothing new in Korea, which is widely known for its over-the-top zeal for education.

In April 2007, about 900 Korean students had their test scores disqualified in an unprecedented move by the U.S.-based Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the tests, because SAT test questions were leaked prior to the testing date.

Following a series of test scandals involving Korean teachers and students, the ETS cut the number of SAT tests offered annually in Korea from six to four in July this year as part of a punitive measure.

BY SHIM SAE-ROM [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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