Cheaters as heroes

As a testing expert, Kimberly Swygert rips a new movie that makes heroes out of students who try to steal their upcoming SAT exam so they can cheat their way to The Perfect Score.

In the movie’s version of morality, the would-be cheaters are preventing the SAT from “unfairly deciding who they’ll become.” Like who you’ll become is decided by where you go to college, not by who you already are. A cheater. “The only way to truly decide one’s fate is to beat the system.” Yeah, split those infinitives! That’ll show ’em.

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  1. I’m working on test creation as well in my current job, and it is shocking how uninformed teachers are about this subject. I was contacting schools to participate in field trials for k-g2 math and science tests, and I had to explain multiple times that the tests were not there to evaluate the child, we wanted to evaluate the test.
    For students who hate standardized tests, I’d tell them “Don’t hate the game, hate the playah.”

  2. Nothing wrong with splitting an infinitive…stealing the SATs, aside from being an improbable misapplication of time and energy, is still a felony, though.

  3. Richard Brandshaft says:

    OK, OK. But there are plenty of caper movies that take the crook’s viewpoint.

  4. Even if I agreed that SATs determine a kid’s fate at 17 and I do not. I find it interesting that in Europe It happens around the age of 10 and everyone seems to think this is great. It is my understanding that only the top 5% get to college in Europe. College is free too. Maybe I should say France and Germany instead of Europe. Maybe things have changed since I was there, but I doubt it. I have met Germans who think our educational system is better and try hard to get their kids into our military school system in Germany.

  5. Richard – Yes, I’m not surprised that this movie takes the point of view of kids who think it’s acceptable to cheat on the SAT. I just find it funny that the SAT is considered enough of an adversary that the filmmakers thought this plot would make an exciting movie. I also want to go see it so I can point at the screen and say, “That’s not how it is in real life!” when some arcane testing matter gets discussed.

    I so rarely get to do that at the movies, you know. 🙂

  6. Seems like an appropriate time to mention a new book that I am helping to promote called The Cheating Culture (Harcourt 2004), by David Callahan. It talks about the pervasiveness of cheating in America – everything from corporate fraud, to steroid-infused athletes, to ivy leaguers trying to scam their way through the GREs and LSATs. Callahan contends that the economic climate of the past twenty years, with its winner take all philosophy and strict bottom-line mentality is, in large part, to blame.

    I encourage all of you to check out the website – – and Callahan’s personal weblog –

    All the best,

    Stephen O’Reilly
    A Network for Ideas and Action