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GMAC Shuts Down GMAT Cheat Site

GMAC sued Shi for distributing copyrighted GMAT-related materials, including test questions, without GMAC’s permission. Shi, who was living in the United States at the time the suit was filed and has since returned to his native China, is also the subject of a criminal investigation by US federal law enforcement authorities with whom GMAC worked extensively.

As part of its efforts to collect on the judgment, GMAC seized assets owned or controlled by Shi, including a computer hard drive that contains information about the individuals who participated in Scoretop’s unlawful activities, either as employees or agents of Shi or as “members” of the Scoretop site. GMAC also seized the Scoretop domain name, which it now owns and controls.

GMAC is reviewing contents of the hard drive and other materials to determine if individuals have violated its testing policies through their participation in Scoretop. Violators may have their GMAT scores canceled, and business schools will be notified of those cancellations. The FAQs that follow this article provide more details.

“GMAC vigorously protects its intellectual property rights in order to protect the integrity of the GMAT exam,” said GMAC President Dave Wilson. “This case is just one example of our continued pursuit of those who fail to respect our intellectual property rights and our testing policies.”

Wilson also noted that GMAC is “committed to reporting to schools any unethical behavior that we uncover regarding our testing policy and lack of compliance with that policy by candidates for admission who are sending their scores to schools.” He says that GMAC may refer appropriate cases to law enforcement authorities for criminal investigation, as it did in this case, in addition to canceling the GMAT scores of individuals who violate GMAC testing rules.

Scoretop FAQs

Q. Why did GMAC file the suit against Scoretop.com?
A.
GMAC goes after those who try to cheat on the GMAT exam because the Council has an ethical responsibility to business schools and students to protect the integrity of the test, a critical part of school’s admission process. GMAC sued Lei Shi and others who operated Scoretop.com, a website that offered forums where visitors could share information about the GMAT. The site promoted VIP memberships─$30 for 30 days’ access ─ in which users were encouraged to read and post “JJs,” or live GMAT questions. “JJ” stands for “jungle juice,” or “jijings” – slang words for “the real thing.” GMAC’s investigation of the website revealed that some of the JJs contained real GMAT items.

Q. Is GMAC going to cancel scores? How long will it take?
A.
GMAC’s initial focus is on those who disclosed live questions to Scoretop. If, as part of this investigation, there is compelling evidence of a test taker knowingly violating GMAC policy, GMAC may cancel GMAT scores and notify recipients of the cancellation. It is too soon to say how long the investigation will last, but GMAC will keep schools and students informed throughout the investigation.

Q. Some students who visited Scoretop say the site claimed the questions were written by tutors and that they did not know the questions were live. How should they have known?
A.
Scoretop promotions and numerous postings on the site touted the benefit of VIP membership as having access to live questions. Students who accessed the site but did not pay for VIP memberships did not have access to “JJs” and therefore have nothing to worry about. However, when evidence indicates a test taker paid for VIP membership, sought and obtained live GMAT items, GMAC may cancel the test taker’s score and notify schools of the cancellation.

Q. How can students know what test prep material is legitimate and what’s fishy?
A.
Any test preparation organization advertising “real GMAT items” is guilty of lying, stealing or both. In preparing to take the GMAT test, potential test takers should steer clear of these organizations as they can be harmful to their future. There are many reputable test preparation organizations available that do not make these claims.

Q. When do test takers agree to comply with GMAC policy about accessing or discussing GMAT questions?
A:
VIP members shared and/or had access to GMAT content, violating the terms they agree to when they register for the test and the agreement they signed at the testing center. Rules prohibiting improper or inadvertent access to test content, which test takers agree to when they register for the test, are described in the terms and conditions of the GMAT Information Bulletin. Test takers are reminded of their obligations and agree not to access or share test content in the Testing Rules & Agreement and the Non-Disclosure Agreement at the testing center before they take the exam.

Q. How much did people gain from accessing the questions?
A.
Probably very little. The reliability of the test taker’s score is less in question than the ethical behavior of those trying to “game” the system. Even if a site is illegally able to obtain some “real” questions, it is extremely unlikely that anyone accessing the site will see the same questions on the live exam. The GMAT, a computer adaptive test, has a bank of thousands of questions.

Q. Did GMAC change the test as a result of the items exposed on Scoretop?
A.
GMAC had been following Scoretop for some time and had removed the live questions found on the site from the GMAT question bank. No further changes need to be made at this time. The GMAT exam is continually monitored and reviewed.

Q. The Scoretop website has been up for a few years, so why did GMAC wait so long to pursue it?
A.
GMAC worked with the FBI for several years documenting the evidence necessary to take action. During that time, Lei Shi was warned repeatedly to stop posting live questions to the site. Ultimately, while the FBI continued its investigation, GMAC decided to try to shut down the site via a civil suit, which was filed in June 2007. GMAC announced the ruling on June 20, as soon as it gained control of the Scoretop.com domain and hard drive.

Q. Is GMAC going to pursue other websites?
A. Yes, GMAC is always looking at sites for possible violations of its intellectual property and will continue to investigate all websites that claim to post GMAT questions.

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