Crackdown on China GMAT Cheating

Business school applicants who use Chinese Web sites to get a sneak peek at GMAT questions are having their scores revoked and being banned from retaking the test

By Alison Damast

Students who have tried to get a leg up on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) by visiting Web sites carrying illegally obtained test-preparation material may soon come to regret their actions. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is aggressively pursuing more and more Web sites that illegally provide copyrighted GMAT materials to test-takers, as well as using high-tech gadgets to catch “proxy” test-takers who are hired to take the exam in place of applicants, the organization says.

A key focus of GMAC’s efforts is China. Already in 2009, 32 scores from China have been revoked by GMAC, while 24 Chinese test-takers have been blocked by GMAC from retaking the GMAT exam for five years, GMAC says. One of the Chinese cases that ended in disciplinary action involved a woman who took the GMAT on seven different occasions for seven different people, says Dave Wilson, president of GMAC.

The crackdown comes on the heels of an important court victory for GMAC in China, with a Chinese court ruling on Nov. 23 that a test-preparation Web site, www.passion.org.cn, had infringed GMAC’s copyright by providing exclusive GMAT materials to test-takers for a fee, including reconstructed “live” questions from actual GMAT exams, GMAT prep materials, and PDFs of actual test books. The legal action by GMAC is just one of a number of steps the organization is taking to make sure that students can’t cheat on the exam, says Wilson.

These include heightened security measures at testing centers such as palm vein readers, which use infrared light to capture each test-taker’s unique palm vein pattern, as well as digital photographs and passport scanners, he says. The organization also has Web crawling software that scans 15 million Web sites every evening, looking for sites that illegally compile “live” GMAT questions.

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