The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has taken greater measures to secure GMAT test-taking, implementing biometric palm-vein technology to prevent cheating, reports a Financial Times article, Helping hand for GMAT security.
Dave Wilson, CEO of GMAC, explains that when he joined GMAC in 1995, one of his first tasks was to crack down on cheaters who would take advantage of time differences- for example test-takers on the east coast would provide answers for the west coast test-takers. Of course, providing answers 15 years ago was a lot more simple when tests were still being administered via paper and pencil and all test questions were identical and in the same order.
GMAC significantly reduced cheating by switching to computer-adaptive tests. These new tests use algorithms to provide questions based on how well you've answered earlier questions. Now you only have a one in 35,000 chance of sitting the same test as another test-taker.
Once the cheating obstacle of paper-based tests was removed, another ring of cheats sprung up, this time led by Lu Xu. Xu and a few friends were creating fake IDs and sitting for exams by posing as candidates. These appliacants would pay Xu and his team a fee of about $5,000 to take the GMAT for them. (Xu and four of his friends have been caught and sentenced; a fifth participant in the ring is still out there. 600 tests were administered before Xu and his team were caught.)
In 2006 GMAC partnered with Pearson Vue (of the Pearson Group that owns the Financial Times) for test distribution. Along with this switch came a more technologically savvy method of corroborating identities: digital fingerprinting. Since then, palm vein scans have replaced fingerprinting.
According to Wilson, the PalmSecure reader-a device that reads the blood veins in a palm when the palm is raised to a sensor-is more accurate than fingerprinting, as well as less invasive.
Every time that a GMAT test-taker enters the test room his or her palm vein pattern must match the pattern taken at initial check-in. Further security measures include the taking of a digital signature and photograph at check-in and the use of real-time recording and audio/video monitoring.
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