Posted by: Louis Lavelle on July 1, 2008
This morning, I managed to contact David Wilson, the president and CEO of GMAC, and I thought I’d share with everyone some of his thoughts.
First, the explosive news: GMAC has canceled the score of one individual. It happened about six months ago, after this person bragged in a Scoretop chat room about using materials he got from Scoretop to gain an advantage on the test. GMAC subsequently canceled his score and notified the schools where he was an applicant. Wilson told me that all of the schools rejected his application, but GMAC spokesperson Judy Phair later clarified, saying GMAC never learned what the schools decided.
More info may be forthcoming, but at this point, that’s all I’ve got. GMAC wouldn’t say when he joined the web site, when he took the test, where he was an applicant, or any details of what he said in the chat room that landed him in hot water.
Okay, now for some good news….
One that impressed me about Wilson is that he really doesn't seem to be looking at what happened at Scoretop as a black-and-white thing. Back in 2003, GMAC busted an imposter ring--a half dozen people who took the GMAT for others for about $5,000 a pop. GMAC canceled 166 scores as a result, and five of the six imposters ended up at Rikers with sentences of 33 to 40 months each. Wilson pointed out that what happened at Scoretop is NOT the same thing:
In this case we've got all kinds of shades of grey. At the one extreme, you have the surfer trying to find better ways to prepare for the exam. Then you have people trying to get into chat rooms, but not with an eye to taking advantage of anything that was copyrighted. Then you have those who think they might get an edge because they think they might see a live question there. Our focus is on those people who ultimately violated the agreement they signed. We're not interested in the innocent surfer, but those who were actively engaged in providing that information. If you were actively engaged in providing that information, then you are a target.
I asked Wilson to estimate how many of the 6,000 individuals from the Scoretop hard drive might ultimately have their scores canceled, but I couldn't pin him down. It's just way too early to tell. I also asked him how he thinks schools will respond when GMAC does start canceling scores. What he said was interesting. If GMAC is judicious, and cancels scores only for those for whom their is compelling evidence of cheating, Wilson believes the schools will trust GMAC's judgment--as they have in the past--and take action against those individuals.
We have contacted every single school that uses the GMAT. To a person they're thrilled that we're going after those people aggressively. They don't want coming into their classrooms people who cheated to get in. We don't cancel scores indiscriminately. We're not going to cancel a score where we think there's a shadow of a doubt. Historically, they [the schools] will ask us what the facts are. We'll explain precisely what it was. My guess is when we give them the facts we'll be in accord.
I think his words bear repeating: "We're not going to cancel a score where we think there's a shadow of a doubt." I think those are words a lot of people were waiting to hear.