American College Testing, which administers standardized entrance exams around the world including Korea, will close 26 test venues in Korea due to rampant cheating.
ACT said on its website Monday that it will administer tests in Korea only in venues designated by the service and dispatch its own supervisors.
ACT vowed to crack down on the "criminal actions" of some test takers in Korea, who ruin the test for other students who prepare honestly for the exams.
Exams that used to be administered in 26 locations in Korea will be moved to one designated center. ACT sent out e-mails to Korean staff last Saturday informing them that a test scheduled on Dec. 10 will be administered in a hotel in Seoul. ACT said the aim was to stop "repeated leaks" of test materials in Korea.
Tests scheduled in February, April and June next year will also be administered in a single location. "It looks like back-to-back cheating prompted the tough response," a staffer said.
In June, ACT said it discovered evidence that test materials were leaked and abruptly canceled tests to be administered in Korea. It also found evidence of essay subjects being leaked across Asia ahead of a test on Oct. 22 and ended up canceling all essay test scores.
ACT has sent exams to Korea in boxes two weeks before the test dates. They were supposed to be opened on the day of the tests, but some schools that administered the tests opened the boxes ahead of time.
The tests administered in September and October were delivered in plastic containers sealed with high-strength wire and fastened with combination locks.
One head of an English-language crammer in Korea said, "If you administer the test only in one location, students living outside Seoul will have to put up with a lot of inconvenience, and Korea's image will be tarnished."
Crammers often rely on teaching techniques how to beat the test or on leaking questions, rather than on teaching students how to answer questions properly, an approach encouraged by the formulaic nature of standardized tests.
American College Testing uses tightly sealed plastic containers to deliver test materials to Korea in June.