GMAT Scandal: Punish Cheaters
Users of test prep service Scoretop who paid to look at live questions got an unfair advantage and should be penalized. Pro or con?
Pro: Memorize This
The 6,000 students who saw “live” questions on Graduate Management Admission Test prep site Scoretop.com should be penalized by having their scores dropped. Standardized tests are supposed to ensure a level playing field. Knowing the answers beforehand—whether or not students were aware the service was illegal—destroys that common standard. Therefore, tainted scores should be voided.
That way, both schools and the students applying to them can rest assured the minority of test-takers who had this unfair advantage won’t steal top B-school spots from any of the other 112,684 people who took the test in the 12 months leading up to May 2008.
As for the penalty, those who intentionally cheated shouldn’t be accepted anywhere. Cheating will get you kicked out of school, so it shouldn’t win you a spot in the first place.
Still, intentions are hard to prove. To keep from unfairly punishing students who used the Scoretop.com questions thinking it was a legitimate study aid, while still being fair to those who didn’t see the questions beforehand, applicants who used the site should all have their scores revoked. But the Graduation Management Admission Council should allow them to take the test again.
Invalidating the scores of everyone who saw the questions before the test, while making sure to not ruin the B-school dreams (or reputations) of unintentional cheaters, is the only way to ensure fairness—and find the most qualified applicants.
Con: An Overblown Incident
I am not a stakeholder in the current GMAT mess in any way—unless you believe non-Scoretop.com users should receive extra points on the GMAT, and I won’t hold my breath for that.
Finger-pointers allege that certain Scoretop.com subscribers had the opportunity to memorize questions, but that feat would be far more impressive than actually figuring out the answers to the questions. Frankly, I think there’s a gray area between a legitimate GMAT study guide showing practice problems and the blacklisted Scoretop Web site.
The GMAT has a serious problem with its test. The setting makes you feel as though you’re being booked for a crime. You are fingerprinted, and cameras watch you at all times. But even so, there is the possibility that a student could see the same problem in two different testing periods. Wouldn’t creating fresh questions cost less than all this test security—and be more effective?
The current GMAT troubles were inevitable. The test is far less sophisticated than the Graduate Management Admission Council believes. Nonetheless, the GMAC does make it amply difficult—it’s not as though these students were able to succeed by memorizing a sequence of “b’s” and “c’s.” Each student has to learn sample problems along the way, no matter what practice material he uses to prepare. I believe there is very little difference between a Web site like Scoretop and a study book given out by MBA.com. It would be unethical to sully the names of 6,000 hard-working students.