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ACT exam questions leaked by college prep program

Reuters discovers that ACT's Global Assessment Certificate program is riddled with fraud. Read more below.
BY Skendha Singh |   28-07-2016

News agency Reuters has discovered rampant cheating in the Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) program, owned and administered by a subsidiary of the American College Testing (ACT), Inc.

Reuters spoke to former students and teachers as well as staff from ATC and the GAC centres. It found that tests and GAC assignments were easily available online for sale in China and South Korea, where the program is popular. It also reported that centres in mainland China sometimes have access to question papers well in advance of the actual tests, which are shared with students as practice papers. This was confirmed by a few GAC graduates who are now enrolled in American universities.

Christopher Bogen, a director at one of the GAC centres in China, told Reuters about “intentional, flagrant cheating” by students. He said they often submit plagiarised assignments, including essays translated into English by Google!

The GAC program is designed to prepare international students, who do not have English as a first language, for university education. It is the only internationally recognised program that allows students to prepare for, and take, the ACT. This is especially convenient for students in China. If they enrol for the program, they do not have to travel elsewhere to take the ACT. Graduates of the program can easily enter any of the GAC Pathway Universities in countries like Australia, USA, UK, US, Canada and Singapore. Not only that, some of the Pathway Universities in the US give GAC graduates a whole year in credit.

Colleges in the US are obviously alarmed by this discovery. Timothy Tesar, Assistant Director of international admissions at Iowa State University, told Reuters that these reports were “very disconcerting.” The investigation has made universities question the legitimacy of the GAC grades and applications.

The market for international students, especially from South-east Asia, who want to study abroad, is growing. And China ranks right at the top. In 2014-15, more than 300,000 Chinese students were enrolled in US universities and colleges. They are a huge financial asset for US universities because few Chinese students request for, or receive, aid. They also pay a tuition fee much higher than domestic students. Testing services like ACT, SAT, IELTS and TOEFL also gain from the growing popularity of the US as a higher education destination. And so do those looking to make a quick buck. The result is scams like these.

But, the fallout of an academic fraud of this nature can take on huge proportions. Without a rigorous ACT, universities will not be able to ensure a consistent and equal standard for domestic and international student recruitment. In the US, students give tests under stringent conditions. Also, the decreasing popularity of SAT overseas is due to such security lapses, exposed by Reuters earlier this year. While SAT still remains the most popular international college admissions test, ACT is closing in. Now, with ACT’s own standards being questioned, it remains to be seen what the effect on its market share and reputation will be.



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