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Test taking

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.

Based on the most recent data published by the GMAC, approximately 21% percent of GMAT tests are taken by repeat test-takers who have taken the test more than once within a year. If the data is segmented further, it shows that out of tests that score within the mean Total GMAT score range of 500 to 540, the percentage accounted for by repeat test-takers is approximately 28%. The average gain between the first test and the second test is about 30 points. That means repeat test taking may result in either an increase or decrease. An important side fact: about 20% of GMAT tests are taken for the purpose of submitting scores to a non-business graduate program.

Since each person is allowed to repeat the test up to five times a year and most repeat test takers test two or three times within a year, we can make some easy assumptions.

Assume:

1) the total number of GMAT tests taken per year is 135,000 (rounded up from the 2005 data),

2) all tests required for non-business school graduate programs are taken one time only and also account for 20% in the score range of 500 to 540, and

3) all repeat GMAT test takers take on average 3 times a year, the above data implies that the number of repeat MBA-related test takers should represent just 10.6% of total MBA-related test takers or just 15.2% of MBA-related test takers with score of 500 to 540. This equates to a total repeat MBA-related test takers of about 14,310 a year.

This conclusion is in agreement with Manhattan Review’s advice to our own students: We generally recommend you to prepare well, stay focused, and then ace the GMAT in your “once and only” try. That way you can optimize the result without stretching yourself for an extended period. Also that way you don’t need to worry about recovering from bruised “ego”, exhausted soul, tighter purse string, and a swamped schedule. However, if you have taken the GMAT on your own before studying with us, we believe targeting specific weaknesses is most important. Rather than repeating an entire prep course, we recommend private tutoring so that you can customize your sessions.

Posted on October 27, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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