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LI students take SAT under new security

Cecilia Kim, 17, is a senior from Townsend

Cecilia Kim, 17, is a senior from Townsend Harris High School in Bayside who took the SAT at Great Neck North High School. (Oct. 6, 2012) Credit: Steven Sunshine

Some of the first students to take the SAT on Saturday under new anti-cheating measures said the greater scrutiny made test day longer and more stressful.

While generally in favor of stricter rules for the college entrance exam, the students said having to show more evidence of their identity added an extra burden to an already anxious day.

"Every time you leave the room -- just to go to the bathroom -- they'd check your ID," said Emma Kelly, 16, of Williston Park, a senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset. "But it was fine. The only really bad thing is that if you've forgot or lost your ticket, then you're totally out of luck."

The security procedures, put into effect worldwide, required students to present an admission ticket. Test-day location changes and walk-ins were prohibited.

College Board, ETS and ACT Inc. -- groups that sponsor and administer the tests -- tightened security in response to a cheating scandal that led to the arrests of 20 students in public and private schools on Long Island last year.

Additional ID checks through the day, including during collection of answer sheets, and more training for proctors who oversee the tests, were just a few reforms. Officials did not disclose some of the changes, citing security.

Commack High School senior Kyle Choy, 17, of East Northport, called the frequent ID checks "distracting."

"I definitely lost focus for a little bit, but I understand," he said. "It was more annoying -- the proctor looking over at you periodically. You definitely notice even though you're taking a test."

Outside Great Neck High School, where the September 2011 cheating probe began, parents waited in their cars for hours for their children to complete their tests.

Many of the students who took the SAT there were from Queens high schools.

"It was a little excessive," said Cailan Rourke, 16, a senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside. He said he and others' bags were searched because someone's cellphone started beeping.

Another student said a girl in her testing room was almost turned away because she didn't look like her ID photo. The girl had recently dyed her hair.

One parent, Jimena Corrigan of Whitestone, strongly endorsed the new rules.

"I know how much my son studied for this and it really isn't fair that some people can buy good test scores because their parents have the money for it," she said as she waited by her car. "You can't tell your kids that it's OK to cheat. It is wrong."

With Joie Tyrrell

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