While it is difficult to be sure that the two tests were completely identical, the test given yesterday in Thailand was at least very, very similar to the one given in the US in December 2018.
IS THIS KIND OF REUSE UNUSUAL?
Yes and No.
It is not at all unusual for students in Asia to be given reused tests. In fact, ALL tests given in Asia are repeats of tests previously administered in the US. College Board cannot finalize the scoring scales for a test without first administering it to a certain number of American students, so students in Asia can never receive brand new tests.
Still, exactly what happened in Thailand yesterday is quite unusual.
For the last several years, College Board has followed the same pattern: in June of each year (or in August for 2020, when the June test was canceled), the organization has administered numerous completely different tests on the same day, and then it has reused those tests over the following year or two.
For example, in June of 2019, College Board administered at least 15 completely different tests on the same day:
Only one of those forms (Form NAON225) leaked and circulated online. The others have been reused in the intervening year and a half. For example, Form NAPG307 was reused as the October 2019 International test; form NAPL312 was reused as the March 2020 international test; form NAPI309 was reused as the August 2020 international test; form NAPF306 was reused as the September 2020 US test; and so on.
This kind of reuse is normal and responsible; because so many different versions of the test are used—and because only a small number of students take each one—the odds of any given version leaking are quite low.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
Most of the international world received a reuse of one of the many August 2020 US tests:
This test had not leaked, and thus it was new to all test-takers.
But Thailand and a few other countries received a reuse of the December 2018 US.
This IS unusual
For the last few years, College Board has typically NOT given international students repeats of tests from August, November, or December US Saturday tests. (March, May, and October tests are legally released and thus not eligible for reuse.) Because College Board gives everyone in the US the same test during each of those months, the risk of leakage is very high. And in fact, most such tests have leaked and found their way onto the Internet or into the collections of test preparation companies.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
It is difficult to say for sure, but something similar happened in September 2020. Most of the world got one version of the SAT, but a handful of countries in the Middle East received a repeat of the December 2018 INTERNATIONAL (not US) test:
These anomalies almost certainly connect somehow to College Board’s endless efforts to thwart international cheating operations. Yesterday, College Board also canceled the SAT throughout all of Lebanon because of some “security” concern.
WILL THIS HAPPEN AGAIN? WILL THE MARCH TEST BE A REUSE OF SOMETHING I CAN FIND ONLINE?
At this point, it seems unlikely. Again, this kind of reuse is very unusual. The best way to prepare for the test will always simply be to develop the skills necessary for success.