Students who took the ACT college entrance exam last month have had their scores for the writing section canceled due to leaked exam papers.

Affected students have received a notice from the test organizers stating: “Unfortunately, events occurred which compromised the testing process for the writing portion of your test event. As a result, you will not receive a score for your writing test response/essay. Your multiple-choice ACT tests – English, mathematics, reading, and science tests – WILL be scored.”

The message also stated that the ACT would issue a refund of US$16 to each student.

ACT spokesman Ed Colby said that the cancellations involved test centers in the Asia and Oceania regions, with those affected only amounting to a “small portion of examinees”, but did not reveal the exact number of those whose scores were made void.

The writing section of the ACT test is usually voluntary, but many U.S. institutions ask prospective students to take it in order to be able to evaluate their writing and critical thinking abilities.

President of the international affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counselling, Kristin J. Dreazen, said that this latest cheating incident was “a frustrating and complicated situation for our students”.

According to Reuters, the day before an ACT exam was due to be administered on October 22, the news agency managed to secure a copy of an ACT writing test from a source who said it was meant to be used the next day at test centers in Asia and Oceania.

Test administrators were told to use a different paper than the one originally planned, but it appears there are still concerns over the security leak.

Makers of standardized test papers have been hounded by cheating controversies over the past few years, many of which were said to be prevalent in China, as “school officials and proctors ignored and were sometimes complicit in cheating”, reported Reuters.

In June, the ACT tests were canceled at all test centers in South Korea and Hong Kong due to a leak of test materials, just hours before some 5,500 test takers were scheduled to sit for their papers.

It was the first time the exam had ever been cancelled for an entire country.

Image via Shutterstock

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

Students caught cheating in China’s university entrance exams could face 7 years in jail

Med-school exams cancelled in Thailand after high-tech cheaters nabbed