GMAT Cheating Scandal: Drawing to a Close

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on September 8, 2008

The b-school dreams of nearly 100 GMAT test-takers have been shattered, with GMAC cancelling their test scores in what is likely the final chapter in one of the worst b-school cheating scandals in recent memory.

In the last few days, GMAC has been notifying students that their scores have been cancelled, and notifying schools that have received them. It’s unclear how many students had scores cancelled, but Joe Fox, the head of the MBA program at Washington University’s Olin Business School, said he received a GMAC letter this morning stating that the total was fewer than 100.

A second letter to b-school representatives listed the names of individuals with cancelled scores that were reported to each institution. At Olin, Fox said, only one applicant’s score was cancelled, and that applicant had already been rejected. Contacted late Monday, Fox was breathing an audible sigh of relief. Had the cancelled score belonged to someone currently enrolled or a graduate, Fox would have a difficult decision to make. “I’m really happy it’s not someone we had a more active engagement with.”

Contacted on Monday, GMAC spokesperson Judith Phair said the organization would make an official statement tomorrow, and release an "frequently asked questions" about the latest developments.

The original story broke nearly 3 months ago after GMAC, which publishes the test, shut down an illegitimate test prep Web site, Scoretop.com, and began investigating subscribers to the VIP section of the site. GMAC alleged that many subscribers had access to GMAT test questions before taking the test themselves. Unlike legitimate test prep services, which use retired questions, some of the questions available on scoretop were "live" questions--still being used on current tests--that were posted there by individuals after having taken the exam.

GMAC threatened to cancel the scores for any individual found to have posted live questions on the site, or who accessed live questions before taking the test. Applicants could be rejected, current students could be expelled, and graduates could have their degrees revoked. That prospect terrified many, who flooded the businessweek.com web site with thousands of comments.

It's unclear whether GMAC would allow individuals with cancelled scores to retake the test, or barr them indefinitely, as it has said it would in the past. It's also unclear how individual schools will react and whether individuals will be given a chance to appeal the GMAC decision or any action taken by the schools.

BusinessWeek will be following this story starting with the GMAC announcement tomorrow. Check this blog and visit businessweek.com/bschools tomorrow for updates.

Reader Comments

Sankar

September 8, 2008 6:01 PM

Very unfortunate to see this. My sincere hope is that no innocent student is victimized in the process.

Fewer than 100 lawsuits ?

September 8, 2008 6:08 PM

Thought could be more.

Phil

September 8, 2008 6:29 PM

Louis:

personal thanks for keeping us updated throughout this mess.

thanks!

james

September 8, 2008 6:36 PM

Based on Enron, the subprime failures, the fed foreclosing on Freddie Mac and Fanniw Mae there has been a lot of bad behavior by B-school grads of the past. These guys are just chips off the old block. Scratch any B-school grad and their blood runs green. They are taught how to go in and rip off everything they can then the govenment will step in and the little taxpayers will bail them out. Welfare for the rich and powerful.

Matthew Weigfield

September 8, 2008 6:51 PM

Has GRE exams caught any infection?
Has the authorities checked that?

James

September 8, 2008 7:14 PM

What I've Learned from GMAC: Use a WiFi Hotspot and an unregistered Prepaid Visa if you're gonna use sites which deal with school or prepping for official tests. What [jerks] GMAC turned out to be. There aren't many people out there who havn't done something at least a little questionable in their quest to obtain a degree. Everyone's at least peeked at a test that they shouldn't have had access to at 1 point or another.

All Together

September 8, 2008 8:09 PM

If you know the question that will appear on a test, then study the answer and retain that information, and then give the correct answer when taking the test...what's the difference if you're surprised by the question being on a test and you still know the correct answer. I feel bad for the students that had their scores canceled, but in the real business world passing a test means nothing. If you never worked for a company then your knowledge of business it limited,
and so are your job skills. Individual qualities such as motivation, and interpersonal and creative solution skills have not been developed. I think they should give those kids a break and give them a second chance. The business world could potentially be missing out on some great winners out there that got caught up in a passion to succeed. As always, this is just IMHO.

jbm_thestateofaffairs.com

September 8, 2008 8:56 PM

So sad that so many people will cheat thinking they will get away with it. Many will steal too if they think they will not be caught. Are we not supposed to be better than this?

I would like to know who the cheaters are, what their demographic is. How many of them are under the highest pressure to succeed because of their families? How many are idiots reaching higher than they should reach via the cheat mechanism? Who are the cheaters in this society? Write a book, I'll buy it, as I would really like to know.

old alchemist

September 8, 2008 9:14 PM

as former academic, chief scientist, and businessman i smell a rat, sick or dead. i am guessing but i'd bet big bucks this is a marketing ploy. why you scared young or not so young folks. i have two grandchildren soon to finish law school and like many new lawyers (those not going into politics) they need to pick a field, a specialty. what a made to order deep pockets class action lawsuit. closer investigation may disclose no injured "students" as per article. hey how about a class action for mental angst. maybe a congressional investigation, or at least atty generals of the various states will launch inquiries.

Sudipa Shrestha

September 8, 2008 9:39 PM

wow...I'm planning on giving my GMAT in a month or so. Should I wait? This is scary.

Surprised

September 8, 2008 10:22 PM

Given the seriousness of the action taken, how could GMAC just use email to notify those individuals. Most unreliable method of communication.

StandardizedStan

September 8, 2008 11:00 PM

this is the risk of allowing a simple 3 hour time span weigh so heavily in an application review process.

Casper Olsen

September 8, 2008 11:37 PM

Cheating is widespread in this country, specially among the undergrad students. Students who work closely with the faculties has been cheating constantly. It's like the 'smoking weed' scenario at undergrad level. Everybody knows it but nobody talks about it.

Roin

September 8, 2008 11:56 PM

This decision is incorrect. GMAC has to blame itself not having protective methods. not correct decision.I encourage whose score were canceled to sue GMAC.

sdep

September 9, 2008 1:18 AM

A huge relief for thousands out there..

Thanks a lot for the article, Louis!

To Louis

September 9, 2008 1:27 AM

Hi Louis,

Thanks for this blog, can you please help clarify a few things:

- Have all the mails been sent?
- If I have not got the mail and my score is still 'reportable' on mba.com, does that mean that my score will not be cancelled?

Understand that you must be getting a lot of such requests, but would really appreciate any help you could provide.

Please continue the good work. One last comment, I think BW should not 'glorify' the story once more tomorrow. It would have a devastating effect on those affected. Please let this die a natural death.

Overblown

September 9, 2008 1:33 AM

From all I've read, it sounds as though there was almost no chance any of the people who saw the live questions on Scoretop actually encountered any one of those questions on the test. And how were they supposed to know the Scoretop special subscription was illegal? It's not students' job to vet the legality of a study aid.

john

September 9, 2008 2:18 AM

I think 100 is not bad, GMAC did a good job..

Sujay

September 9, 2008 2:29 AM

Truly unfortunate ..hope no one innocent is punished :(

Me

September 9, 2008 3:24 AM

Hehe [I'm] safe :) Have not received the mail yet...

bijith

September 9, 2008 5:40 AM

this is bad....even african bull frogs shouldnt be treated to such activities....

vikon

September 9, 2008 5:47 AM

Excellent work by GMAC, but more could have been cancelled. Shows cheating, fraud, bribes wont work in the Western Universities like it does in Asia.

magallanes

September 9, 2008 7:31 AM

But the answer is easy, those people must take another similar test to show their expertise and abilities on GMAT.

Anyways, the amount of stupid and moron students on b-school is immense and not just because a exam crap but also for money and even for politician, and religious reason.

In any case, GMAT can (and most likely) will be sue.

MSALI

September 9, 2008 9:18 AM

This is very bad. Cheating is bad.
Any such info related to USMLE Step I Board Exam???
I mean Medical Licensing Examination????

endoftimes

September 9, 2008 9:38 AM

Hope GMAC stayed true to the categories and didnt punish anyone innocent. People's lives aree at stake here.

Carl

September 9, 2008 9:45 AM

Let's face it: These cheats are making the rest of us look ordinary. How come we all use the same recommended texts but they end up in the high 700s thereby shutting out the capable but honest who sat through the night studying for the exam. Anyone holding brief for them?

Louis

September 9, 2008 10:21 AM

Folks, I haven't been in touch with GMAC yet, but I've reached out to a bunch of top MBA programs and will be preparing a follow-up story for the web site tonight. If anyone who has had their score canceled is willing to be interviewed for the story, please send your contact info, including a phone number, to louis_lavelle@businessweek.com and I'll call as soon as I can. Thanks!

GorichJeam

September 9, 2008 10:48 AM

well how about also talking about the people whom go and make fake IDs pay about 1000-4000USD and have some whiz take the exam for them. I bet these scores don't get canceled. Besides does it really matter if they cheated or not? A monopoly on college admission which means nothing with regard to success/ ethics or anything else- why bother in the first place. who ever gets the highest score, should be automatically disqualified ( you know like the poison pill) besides there are way 2 many holes in that system that bypassing its security to gain the highest score is a joke.

to carl

September 9, 2008 11:22 AM

make some sense..there are many smart people outthere..who are you to think that nobody cant score higher than you?!!

to Louis

September 9, 2008 11:25 AM

Louis, cant you post an update on the cancellations first before creating another story? How can people appeal? Is it over or is GMAC continuing its investigation? There is not an update on mba.com although you said GMAC said there will be one today...

To Louis

September 9, 2008 11:31 AM

It would be helpful if you can get an official update from GMAC. Otherwise there is no point in all of us coming up with our own stories of what would be or could be?

Josh

September 9, 2008 11:42 AM

Looks as though 100 people will have to do something else with their lives besides living in an office building and buying the latest things to keep up with their coworkers.

If anything, I'd call that liberation.

They can use their free time to raise kids in a middle-class but emotionally supportive environment, and thus end the vicious cycle.

To Josh

September 9, 2008 11:59 AM

Nice way to put it buddy. Agree with you.
Those 100 ppl need not be involved in the rat race anymore. They should just collect themselves and look ahead for other opportunities in life.

To Josh

September 9, 2008 12:01 PM

C'monnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn man!!!!

100 Liars

September 9, 2008 12:17 PM

Less than 100 sounds RIDICULOUS!

Posting Live Questions is not a benefit.

The benefit is ACCESSING LIVE QUESTIONS.

Cheaters are those who Paid for accessing live questions.

BSchools should be aware of 700+scores!

BSchools must request the list of ST users, THEY ALL GOT INFLATED SCORES!!!

howard

September 9, 2008 12:34 PM

I can only wonder how rich and successful people like JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Joe Kennedy, Commodore Vanderbilt, and Henry Ford (you get my point, I guess) would have become if they played 100% by the rules and not peeked under the rug or slipped someone a few dead presidents to get some confidential information.
Its not a very nice world out there. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
To whit, Ronald Reagan didn't win the Cold War by touting a superior ideology; he bankrupted the Soviet Union by getting the Saudis to report fake oil production numbers to depress the world price of petroleum below the level that the USSR needed to finance its crumbling welfare state. Was that cheating?
Its only business, nothing personal.

to 100 liars

September 9, 2008 12:46 PM

You are the one who is ridiculous. How can you blame people without knowing what they did. I agree real cheaters should be punished but people like you who blame others without knowing anything should be punished too. Lots of people use many sites even today just to solve difficult questions not to cheat! Stop blaming innocent people who just tried to better prepare and didnt unfairly benefit from that site.

Sunjap-to BW

September 9, 2008 12:54 PM

Louis, when I enter my comment it says it goes to approval ( supposedly some BW people need to approve comments). Then how can you let someone who calls everybody cheater and tries to play the role of Judge in this situation? Either dont allow these messages or let everybody know who this person's real name is so he can be sued..

Shoelover

September 9, 2008 1:18 PM

Oh No! They might revoke your MBA. What does that mean, you might need to learn how to actually make money rather than being an administrator?

Rob

September 9, 2008 1:46 PM

Cheating on a b-school test? Come on! They are only doing what will be required of them in their future careers. Look around...

sklam

September 9, 2008 1:49 PM

Good that GMAC is cracking down, but all 6000 VIP users should have been cancelled & banned for life. A strong message should be sent that cheating, fraud & bribes are NOT tolerated in the Western Universities, unlike it being rampant across Asia.

Why only 100 ppl?

September 9, 2008 1:53 PM

Is it not surprising that only 100 people have been notified of score cancellations.
Seems like GMAC is fully aware of legal complications, especially when they could not prove in court earlier that by using scoretop, a candidate's score was enhanced. Looks like after getting so far, they have chosen only a small sample, and tried to show that they have actually got the so called "cheaters". The entire set out of the 6000 VIP members may be quite large

Shawn

September 9, 2008 1:59 PM

Quite a few comments cite other examples of cheating to *justify* cheating. Cheating happens, more or less, in everybody's life, but it should not be justified unreasonably or encouraged. I have friends that have studied late into the night after work to prep for GMAT. By this forgive-them-we-all-cheat logic, shouldn't everybody be encouraged to maybe slip a little under the table?

Potential points for Lawsuit against GMAC

September 9, 2008 2:24 PM

Some points to ponder for lawsuit against GMAC

1.When you schedule a appointment with GMAT, there is no agreement that one would not try to seek sample questions, or even live questions for that matter during the preperation
2.There were no solutions available for any JJ’s and the possible solution options were discussed by the VIP members and a lot of times, there were multiple answers.
3.There was no caveat or warning on www.gmac.com or www.mba.com for not registering and using Scoretop.com during the entire period 2003-2008

to all who play the judge

September 9, 2008 2:32 PM

what about only 100 people fell into to the 2 categories set by GMAC?? All the guys who talk about Western Universities virtues should first remember that Western laws say everyone is innocent till proven guilty ( NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!!). One must have ill intentions to blame innocent people.

to SKLAM

September 9, 2008 2:34 PM

hope you too be blamed wrongfully one day in your life...it is so easy for losers to blame honest and innocent people who did nothing wrong and didnt get an unfair advantage.

GMAC nonsense

September 9, 2008 2:48 PM

Firstly, i don't think anyone in their right mind will pay a site to access questions that are known to be illegally obtained. Not for such an important exam like GMAT and MBA.

What is really shady is that GMAC was supposedly watching the site since 2004 and did nothing about it. Were they just waiting for the numbers to build up so they could make their case and mess with people's lives and careers at a later date?

Those who posted live questions on the site after giving their GMAT should be punished, the others IMO did nothing other than read what was already posted and should not have to pay a price.

More got away

September 9, 2008 4:37 PM

The website operated since 2003, you can't tell me that < 100 people went to the VIP section- I don't believe that. GMAC recovered the (a?) hard drive and used payment info to track people down. Guess they didn't get much of the info they needed.

Who knows HOW many students and now-graduates of b-schools have gotten away with this. THAT to me is the bigger point- not the "boy, thank goodness the scandal wasn't bigger" viewpoint the deans express (perhaps understandably given their situation).

XYZ

September 9, 2008 5:27 PM

Random User

September 9, 2008 5:29 PM

Random User

September 9, 2008 5:30 PM

Latest from GMAC

September 9, 2008 6:12 PM

Do not forget

September 9, 2008 10:07 PM

For those who escaped the axe by mere inches - do not sit and gloat over your luck, instead spend time to reflect on your actions

TJ

September 10, 2008 1:30 PM

This is a witch hunt designed to make people believe that the GMAT and the ole MBA admissions process has more integrity than it actually does.

Neither GMAC or any business school I know of makes any significant effort to stem the test taking, admissions and academic fraud committed by international business school applicants and students from China and other countries with lose ethical standards. When I was a student in a Top 10 MBA program the level of "group work" on final exams & individual projects was astronomical and many of my foreign classmates readily admitted that their companies had provided application assistance which included hiring "professional" test takers to make sure they had high enough scores to get into a top US program. Since foreign students pay top dollar (in cash) to attend b-school in the US, everybody turns a blind eye to their admissions fraud and cheating.

When I filed a complaint with my university regarding a class where the average score on a take home final was 92%, with EVERY Chinese student somehow getting a perfect score (even the ones who'd gone into the exam with "C" grades), I was told by our dean that they really couldn't prove anything and would just have to let the grades stand. Guess who decided to have a pot luck at her place with a few classmates the next time we had a take home final.

mc

September 13, 2008 10:49 AM

Did the exam takers know that the questions were "Live" ? Did GMAT give sufficient prior warning about reviewing those questions?

albertpinto

September 15, 2008 10:12 AM

I just want to know on an anonymous basis if any of the test takers had actually seen questions from GMATPREP software and how many. Just wanted to do a poll.

IS

September 15, 2008 4:28 PM

This is not helpful at all unless they shut down all the Chinese websites that shares GMAT questions among them. As a member of two famous B-schools, I heard from many of my Chinese colleagues that they have access to pool of monthly GMAT questions through Chinese-language-websites and you can't find any of them without practicing with these websites before their exams. getting a 95 percentile score is a one month process based on them. the same story is true about GRE and TOEFL.

Worried

September 15, 2008 8:13 PM

Hi Louis,

Did GMAC contact all students whose scores were cancelled? Did they send emails or letters?

Louis

September 16, 2008 8:27 AM

You need to call GMAC yourself, or email them at the address provided in the FAQ posted on this blog: testsecurity@gmac.com. Many questions like this one are answered in the FAQ so I urge you to read that before you contact GMAC. You can find the FAQ at http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/blogs/mba_admissions/archives/2008/09/gmat_cheating_s_5.html

Thanks.

Anand

September 16, 2008 12:40 PM

Will GMAC now revise the percentage ranking for Q and V based on these score cancellations? 100 need not be a significant number may be. It would be interesting to know the no. of cancelled scores which were 700+

hellooo

June 8, 2009 2:04 AM

close down the chasedream.com website and dont accept any Chinese students

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