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Are right and wrong on the SAT?

A file photo of a student taking a

A file photo of a student taking a practice SAT in Newton, Mass. (March 3, 2005) Photo Credit: Getty Images

The line between doing everything possible to prepare for a challenge and cheating to overcome it can seem like a fine one. But the difference is clear. Six Great Neck North High School students and the 2010 Great Neck North graduate they allegedly paid to take the SAT for them had that highlighted this week when they were arrested.

So, we hope, did other students, who can use the situation as a study guide on which, of the multiple choices they face applying for college, they should avoid.

Parents and kids huddle together to create strategies for college entrance. They include course schedules, extracurriculars and community involvement meant to impress colleges, lengthy test prep classes, and professional counselors who help craft and edit applications.

That may be compulsive, but it's not immoral. If the counselor, though, goes from helping guide and edit an essay to writing it, that's cheating, and it's shameful. If the test prep strays from learning the secrets of an SAT whiz to paying the whiz to take the college-entrance exam, that's cheating, and it's shameful.

It's also stupid, particularly when the not-so-great students -- who allegedly paid the ringer $1,500 to $2,500 -- end up with practically perfect scores, as was the case here. You have to be a brilliant person to create a scheme that dumb.

Kids and parents learn right from wrong, but they may not always remember the lesson. Perhaps this story out of Great Neck will serve as a refresher course. hN