ABC News: Does Loophole Give Rich Kids More Time on SAT?: "March 30, 2006 — When Ali Hellberg, 19, was in prep school, she said several of her classmates obtained notes from psychologists diagnosing them with learning disabilities, even though they didn't have any learning problems.
They faked learning disabilities to get extra time to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, in the hopes of getting a higher score, she said.
'I had a friend who is a good math student but is no math brain, and she got extended time and got a perfect score on her math SAT,' Hellberg said.
That friend now attends an Ivy League school.
Some call this scheme the rich-kids loophole. With intense competition to get into Ivy League and other elite colleges, students say they need nearly perfect SAT scores, as well as great grades and impressive extra-curricular activities. A rising chorus of critics say high school students from wealthy ZIP codes and elite schools obtain questionable diagnoses of learning disabilities to secure extra time to take the SATs and beef up their scores.
The natural proportion of learning disabilities should be somewhere around 2 percent, the College Board said, but at some elite schools, up to 46 percent of students receive special accommodations to take the tests, including extra time.
Harvard graduate student and researcher Sam Abrams conducted a study on students in Washington, D.C, where the number of students receiving accommodations is more than three times the national average.
"We see outright overperformance … scores that, on average, in the disability population, would qualify you without question to the elite universities," Abrams said. "This strikes me as very compelling evidence that people are taking advantage of the system in Washington, D.C."
Abrams believes the abuse has become more frequent since fall 2003, when the College Board stopped "flagging" the scores of students who took the SAT with extra time. Since the "flag" was dropped, colleges have no way of knowing that the test was taken under nonstandard conditions. Abrams and his co-author, Miriam Freedman, believe this has made it more appealing for students who don't need the extra time to seek it out. "