Penalties for Impersonating Someone on a Standardized Test

Penalties for Impersonating Someone on a Standardized Test

The stakes with standardized tests can be overwhelmingly high. High school students taking the SAT or ACT can face the prospect of not getting into a good school, while students taking academic achievement tests might not be able to graduate or move on to the next grade if they don't attain a certain score. While cheating might seem like a solution to the problem, the penalties can be high.

1 Cancellation of Scores

At minimum, if you're caught cheating, your scores on the test will be canceled. This means that the person you're pretending to be will likely have to take the test himself and won't get credit for having completed the test until he does. If you're taking a college admissions test, the college to which you're applying could also be notified. The College Board, for example, cancels fraudulent SAT scores and notifies the schools that the student has requested her scores be sent to of the cheating.

2 Criminal Prosecutions

If you break the law by giving a false identification, signing someone else's name to a document or breaking your oath as a teacher or administrator, you could be charged with a crime. In Atlanta, for example, school system administrators and teachers accused of changing students' answers on standardized tests face criminal prosecution on conspiracy, fraud and similar charges. Impersonating another is a crime in some states, and a few states are moving toward making cheating on a standardized test a crime. In New York, the state's legislature debated making cheating a crime in 2012.

3 Loss of Offers

If you impersonate someone else on a test, you and the other person could lose scholarships and college admission opportunities. If the cheating is discovered immediately, your scores will be canceled, but if the school finds out about the cheating subsequent to your enrollment, you could lose funding or even be kicked out of school.

4 Civil Penalties

In some cases, you could be subject to a civil lawsuit for cheating. If you impersonated another student without her permission, she could sue you. While this situation is rare, it could occur if the student's parents hire you or if, for some reason, you decide to impersonate a competitor to lower her score on the test. You might also be sued if you got a scholarship based on your standardized test score and are later found to have cheated. The school might attempt to recover the scholarship money, claiming that you received it fraudulently. Similarly, another student could sue you for interfering with her class rank or scores. For example, in 2013 a student filed a lawsuit against a teacher accused of helping another student cheat in Texas, claiming that her rank as salutatorian had been stolen.

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.