6,000 cheaters in medical school would be a catastrophe. An equal number at law school would be disturbing. But at business school, heck, it’s just a case of students mimicking their role models, right?
Only if they knew they were in the wrong. GMAC, the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which writes GMAT test questions, claims it will be questioning up to 6,000 current, prospective, and former business school students who may have had access to current, or “live” GMAT questions.
The scandal erupted on June 23, when GMAC disclosed it had won a legal judgment against the Scoretop site in federal district court in Virginia. GMAC had accused Scoretop of copyright infringement, saying the site had published “live” GMAT questions—questions that were still currently in use by GMAC, the test’s publisher—and other copyrighted material. The court awarded GMAC $2.3 million plus legal costs, and allowed GMAC to seize Scoretop’s domain name as well as a computer hard drive containing payment and other data.
Legitimate test preparation companies like Kaplan or Manhattan GMAT purchase retired GMAT questions from GMAC to use for training purposes. Scoretop, however, offered a $30 VIP service that gave users access to live test questions.
Many of the posts found on the site strongly suggest visitors knew the questions were live. The messages reference question “sets” and “JJs”—an acronym for “jungle juice”—which refer to groups of live questions that have been reconstructed by test-takers and posted on the site.
In one post cited by GMAC in its copyright infringement case, “h3adsh0t” describes the value of the JJs as “inestimable,” adding that he saw “10-12 JJs [when I took the GMAT], word by word, and many of the other questions felt very familiar.” In a “post-exam debriefing” filed by “sammi,” he described how he “got 3 successive [math] questions, of which all three were from scoretop Nov or Dec! …[T]he confidence you derive out of solving a seen problem is incomparable.”
Nobody’s 100% sure how Scoretop obtained all of its live questions, though a number came through user postings. Scoretop’s website, however, said that the company’s tutors had written the questions as practice problems. So not everyone knew they were “live.”
GMAC tried to reassure the involved students that only those who knowingly used the Scoretop.com Web site to cheat on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will have their scores canceled. Because most top B-schools require the GMAT, the students’ MBA dreams could be shattered.
The 6,000 were VIP members over the five years of Scoretop’s existence, so it’s possible the number includes many current applicants, current students, and MBA graduates. Since all 6,000 had access to the live questions, all 6,000 are potentially subject to score cancellations, although the exact number who will face cancellation will not be known for at least several weeks.
Due to a series of pre-test NDAs they signed, the students have little recourse. The ones who knew they were cheating clearly deserve to have their test scores revoked. The ones who didn’t know can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.
If people keep getting into b-school this way, we’d better build some more white-collar prisons…