A Warning to All Would-Be GMAT Cheaters

Lawrence Rudner

Dr. Lawrence Rudner

Last week GMAC’s own Dr. Lawrence Rudner, the ultimate “guy behind the GMAT” if there ever was one, wrote an article on Bloomberg Businessweek letting GMAT students know that the punishment is severe for anyone caught trying to cheat the exam. And, perhaps even more importantly, he has real-world data to prove that the advantage someone gains by cheating is slight, if they exist at all.

Cheaters Get Caught
That first point is actually one that’s been covered in great detail here and in other places, although the Scoretop scandal happened long ago that many of today’s applicants may never have heard of the site. (Frighteningly, just earlier this month a student of ours — a completely honest guy by all accounts — asked his Veritas Prep instructor if he’d heard of a guy in China who claims he knows what questions the GMAT uses. Yikes!) Rudner’s new piece lists all of the possible punishments you might face, including having your score canceled, getting thrown out of school, and losing your student visa if you’re in the U.S. on one. These things could even happen after you’ve earned your degree, if GMAC later discovers you’ve been cheating. Rest assured, you’re never in the clear.

And They Barely Benefit by Cheating
The second point — that cheaters don’t really gain much of an advantage by knowing some of the questions ahead of time — was actually the one that we found most fascinating. Using Scoretop users’ test results and knowing what questions they accessed before taking the exam, GMAC was able to use real-world data to determine just how much it matters. He doesn’t go into much detail in this article, perhaps because he’d rather not, but we (and other test prep companies) have previously seen similar data from GMAC, and we were impressed by how effective the GMAT is in determining one’s ability level. In short, the test is robust enough that even a few false reads (i.e., you get a question right that you “should” have gotten wrong, or the other way around) won’t throw the test off the trail… It will eventually determine your skill level. Even if you can generate a few “false positives,” you’d be surprised by how little that will move the needle when your score comes in.

To us, that’s the single most persuasive argument against cheating. Of course, anyone who doesn’t buy into the “cheating is wrong” philosophy is probably not someone whom business schools will want to admit. But, you don’t even need to get sucked into the whole “What if everyone else is doing it?” argument… Even if you cheat and go into the test knowing some of the questions you will see, you’ll be disappointed by how much of an impact this will have on your official score. So, why bother?

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