Palm Vein Scanning at GMAT Test Center

Posted on June 2, 2009 | Filed in GMAT

In an effort to prevent cheating and to maintain test integrity, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has begun to require that test takers receive a palm vein scan before taking the GMAT at testing centers in the United States and worldwide. The new identification method, initiated in Korean testing centers in July 2008, is scheduled to completely replace the prior method of identification by digital fingerprint during 2009.

The new technology comes in the wake of concerns over so-called “proxy” test taking, a manner of cheating in which testers hire others with a track record of high scores to take the place under a false identity. Because the new scan records applicants’ unique vein patterns beneath the skin rather than patterns on the skin’s surface, false identification is extremely rare: less than 0.00008% of scans administered.

Scanning is performed by Fujitsu’s PalmSecure sensor, which requires an applicant to place his or her palm several inches above the square sensor while the sensor records applicants’ vein patterns, a copy of which is stored as a digital template and sent to the Pearson VUE testing service. While palm vein recognition is a relatively new development in the West, it has a precedent for protecting a variety of vital data in Japan, finding use in ATMs, libraries, and hospitals.

Even so, any new technology invites a host of questions, especially when the technology involves biometrics as a means of identification. Some privacy advocates have argued that the palm-vein scans should be disposed of after a reasonable period of time following testing. Joel Hagberg, a vice president at Fujitsu says students should not worry about their privacy, since “You can’t leave a vein pattern at a crime scene.” At this time the Business Admission Council has stated that it intends to make the scans a part of applicants’ permanent records.

New Testing Center Registration Requirements:

  • All applicants require a valid photo ID;
  • All applicants must have a photograph of them taken at the testing center;
  • All applicants must sign a digital signature pad;
  • First-time testers must scan both palms at the testing center;
  • Applicants who retake the test and have a fingerprint on file must provide a matching fingerprint and scan both palms at the testing center.
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