Joseph Lee's Perspectives
My view of the world
July 2, 2008 - GMAT, Scoretop, and Cheating

In a story posted on CNN.COM, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) which runs the GMAT exams announced that individuals who used the Scoretop website to cheat on the tests will have their scores tossed out.


                Scoretop was developed by a guy by the name of Lei Shi who built a web-site to allow users to share GMAT exam questions, and VIP members paid $30 a month to gain access to the most current problems.  GMAC sued, forced the closure of the web-site, and is now looking into the client list to see if any test takers match up with that list.


This is probably not the first, nor will it be the last time that someone will find a way to cheat on a standardized exam.  If given a chance to get ahead without getting caught, many people will have no problem cheating, and in fact, they would also come up with a perfectly logical (for them) excuse that justifies the action.


In the movie, The Perfect Score (based on a true story), a bunch of teenagers conspire to steal the SAT exam.  There was an underlying theme that the standardized exams measured nothing but the ability to memorize test questions and was culturally biased.   I won’t get into that argument, but suffice it to say, it was not an easy exam for someone who thought that he was proficient in English, but didn’t understand the American culture (that’s me 33 years ago).


But whatever the rationale, wrong is wrong, and we are told that cheating is a bad thing.   But surprisingly, when we work in the business world, we are actually encouraged to lie, cheat, and steal.   Sales people routinely pad their expense accounts, not to mention exaggerate their contribution to a sale that someone else made.   Managers take credit for work done by a subordinate even though he has no idea what the subordinate is really doing.   Bonuses are paid to the favored.   CEO’s who screw up pay themselves a lot of money when things are great, and pay themselves even more when things are worse because, they managed to work in a “challenging environment.”   Enron was regarded by industry pro’s as the champion of corporate governance until we found out they were all talk and no action, and even the gate keepers of financial information were found to be promoting questionable tax shelters.   Anyone dreaming that SOX would end corruption and financial misstatement woke up to the crash of Bear Sterns and the mortgage mess.


Perhaps the GMAC, instead of punishing them, should reward students who have found a way to increase their GMAT scores through creativity and technology.  Isn’t that how it works in real life, where getting and staying ahead is all that matters?


<NOTE:  I’m being cynical, just in case someone gets the wrong message.> 

2008-07-03 07:08:57 GMT
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