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ACT test called off hours before students were to take it

The ACT — the most widely used college admissions exam — was canceled for thousands of students planning to take it in South Korea and Hong Kong on Saturday after it was found to have been leaked in advance.

ACT Inc., which owns the ACT, took the action after learning on Friday the test had leaked out, though it did not say how or where, according to an ACT statement. Some 5,500 students were affected, according to Reuters. The statement says all will get a registration fee refund. But the test will not be rescheduled, and those students who want to take it will have to wait until the next scheduled administration, in September.

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Bob Schaeffer, public education director for the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, also known as FairTest, said the cancellation notice was sent out at about 6 a.m. on Saturday, Asia time (Hong Kong and South Korea are one hour apart) just a few hours before ACT test centers were scheduled to open.

This is the latest in a continuing series of international cheating scandals to affect students attempting to take one of the two major US college admissions exams — the ACT and the SAT. In fact, in 2013, the College Board, which owns the SAT, canceled an entire administration of the exam as well as SAT subject tests in South Korea after questions were leaked. For years, the College Board has invalidated some scores at every administration of the SAT overseas — most often in Asia — because of cheating, which has been done through a sophisticated process run by test-prep providers.

The SAT is more popular overseas than in the United States. The ACT overtook the SAT as the leading admissions test in the United States in 2012.

Schaeffer said many students from mainland China flew to Hong Kong, and possibly Seoul, to take the test because the ACT is not given on mainland China. That means some students wasted a good deal of money on airfare and housing — not to mention the cost of test prep. He also noted that high school seniors who were planning to take the ACT on Saturday in South Korea and Hong Kong as a last chance to post qualifying scores for scholarships, athletic eligibility, etc., now have no options left.

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