Seoul education authorities are launching a sweeping investigation into test-prep schools after the Scholastic Aptitude Test was canceled last week due to an alleged leak of questions.
The organizer called off the U.S. college admission exam for Koreans scheduled Sunday amid growing concerns that a number of private institutes had obtained the exam questions illegally.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said it would investigate more than 60 SAT preparation institutes in the city, particularly in the Gangnam District, where a majority of the schools are located.
There are currently 68 registered private institutes in Seoul that provide SAT preparation classes, according to the education office.
The education office announced that an 18-member investigation team will conduct the on-site inspection until the end of this month.
The investigators will look into how the schools obtained the test materials and whether they had hired unqualified foreign teachers.
If the schools are found to have performed any illegal activity, they may face fines or even closure, the SMOE said.
The prosecution has already investigated more than eight private institutes since February over the allegations that they leaked exam questions to students.
The College Board, which oversees the SAT, had notified Korean applicants of the cancellation of the test via email, citing a suspicion that a school possibly leaked the exam questions to its students.
It is still not clear how any school had obtained the exam material, but there is a possibility that some of the leaked questions would have been used on the canceled test.
It is not the first time a leak of test materials has been reported. In 2007, some 900 test takers in Korea had their scores canceled after allegations that there was a “security breach” of the SAT early in the year.
The SAT is currently offered several times a year in more than 170 countries, taken by thousands of students around the world who want to apply to U.S. colleges.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)