Originally published in La Plaza Press
By ARIANA GHALAMBOR
Last year, the College Board was caught running a Reddit sting operation to bust students cheating on the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. May 10, 2020 before the Advanced Placement (AP) exams held by the College Board, a Reddit user named Dinosauce313 joined a subreddit called “2020 AP Exams”. It was made to give resources to fellow students supplemental information and notes for AP courses, after the AP exams were modified due to the pandemic. The virtual exams allowed students to use class notes and online resources, unlike any other year; however, using another person’s help was strictly prohibited. Cyrus Engelsman, a skeptical junior at Redlands claims that “The College Board would go under false names and possibly other methods to try to catch cheaters. This doesn’t really surprise me, since technology is getting more advanced, cheating methods have become more available.”
The College Board’s Senior Vice President of AP instruction, Trevor Packer, announced on May 10 that “the organization caught a ring of students who were developing plans to cheat” on upcoming AP exams–and that the search for other cheaters was under current investigation. Later that day, a Reddit user Dinosauce313 joined the community in April, right before the AP exams took place. Immediately, other users were suspicious of the account because of their odd tone exemplified by the phrase, “How do you do, fellow kids.” On several social platforms, a theory began brewing: Dinosauce313 was actually a College Board employee setting a trap to catch would-be cheaters and disqualify them. The College Board had previously announced it would be using “digital security tools to detect plagiarism,” a nebulous description that some interpreted as this alleged sting. “No teenager speaks like this,” one Tik Tok user said in a video, breaking down the College Board’s alleged actions.
The following image is directly linked to the TikTok. Click the image and it will redirect you to the original source:
Dinosauce313 assured potential cheaters hoping to collaborate on the AP exams that “each thread will be deleted five minutes after the completion of the test.” Not only was this promise of anonymity flawed given that information about other users would still be accessible, but Dinosauce313’s posts regarding each AP exam still remain publicly available.
Reddit users still continued to come up with more evidence, to further prove their theory. They found that the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the Dinosauce313 user corresponded to a location 20 minutes away from the main College Board offices in Reston, VA.
This leaves many students with a bad feeling about the 2021 AP exams coming up in a few months. Many students felt that it was unjust that the College Board punished the students on that subreddit because they had not yet cheated yet and were “innocent until proven guilty”. This year, students wonder if the College Board will attempt to run a similar scheme, this time more successfully. A spokesperson for the College Board spoke with Vulture, a news source to the company’s policies on online testing security. There it says the College Board “will be monitoring social media and discussion sites to detect and disrupt cheating” and “may post content designed to confuse and deter those who attempt to cheat.” The spokesperson also told Vulture the College Board “is not setting up accounts and starting discussion or social-media threads encouraging students to cheat, such as the ‘Dinosauce313’ account or r/APTests2020.” Kendra Burdick, a freshman at Redlands East Valley High School said that “I think that this should be taken into an important matter, no matter if this is true or false. Who knows, we might end up finding other problems similar that we have discarded.”
Still, some high-schoolers remain unconvinced. Even if the sting isn’t real, the distrust high schoolers feel towards the College Board is— and many remain convinced the College Board is behind Dinosauce313. The College Board continues to deny the conspiracy, though many students choose to direct their attention to the accounts spreading it around the internet.