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Another Cheating Scandal

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New post 01 Jul 2008, 13:11
Riddle me this Batman:

If these people knew that JJs contained/are "live" questions, why would they so boldly, so audaciously write on their blogs that they used JJs and recommend it to others? Were they just brazen about their unethical ways or just that dumb and clueless as to what the JJs contained?

Personally, I don't think they're that dumb; but that raises the question, "Why risk getting caught?"

The only thing I can think of, besides them being brazen morons, is that they don't think this is cheating. Just as there are all those steroid apologists in baseball, maybe these people don't think what they did was cheating.
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New post 01 Jul 2008, 13:30
kidderek, I think you are right there... these people who posts the wonders of JJs on their blogs, for the rest of the world to see, probably do not believe that seeing live questions constitute as cheating. I think it's definitely a cultural and personal thing. In some ways, I can understand why they think that way, even though I vehemently disagree with them.
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New post 01 Jul 2008, 13:48
Whew! Just got through the whole thread! And rhyme, I did send a few kudos your way for all of your excellent investigative work. :-D

However, I still have a question regarding the VIP section of the ST site. There seems to be conflicting information as to what people might have known when they signed up for the VIP section. Please excuse me since I never even heard of that website until recently, but when you signed up for the VIP section, were there two components - print out practice questions as well as a message board? And has anyone been able to determine definitively as to whether when one signed up for the VIP section it was to gain access to questions that were purported to be written in-house and owned by ST, or did it say, "Sign up here for our VIP section and for only $30 you can gain access to questions currently being used on the GMAT test"?

The reason I ask is because I could see someone registering for the VIP section to print out extra questions as well as access an additional message board only for VIP users, while under the impression that it was on the up and up. Then, they go there, print out the questions, and go to check out the forums to then find out that there was some shady stuff going on and never visits that site again. (of course, there could be those folks who stumble upon the illegal material and just figure that they hit the jackpot, but that's not relevant to my question :) )

However, I could also see someone who visits other message boards, blogs, etc. who reads that ST is a great resource for "live" questions and that if you really want to get a good score to sign up for their VIP section. That person would then have definitely gone there with the intention of viewing illegal material.

Obviously there would be a big difference between the two types of users, but legally it would be almost impossible to distinguish them.

Finally, looking at the number of posts by a user in no way could determine any use that they got out of the site. I'm sure that there are plenty of folks that sign up here and only ever lurk, meanwhile partaking of our vast resources.
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New post 01 Jul 2008, 18:34
I've been trying to catch up with this thread before posting and I finally just did.
This situation is really bad. It gives B-schoolers a bad name. And not just the cheaters. It is still common today to hear people draw conclusion from Enron's case in relation to a particular school (I think it was mentioned on this thread) or to MBAs in general. This issue is similar. Guys everywhere will think: yeah, all MBAs are ethically unsound, didn't you hear about the GMAC scandal? Those guys are competitive to the extent of being unethical.

On the thread so far: great investigative work, rhyme!

On the issue of what will probably happen:
I think the schools will take action if GMAC does.

Eg 1:

- John Doe is at XY Bizniz school (student, admit or grad)
- His score(s) gets cancelled by GMAC and XYZ BS is notified.
- XYZ will take action.

Eg 2:

- Jane Doe is at Z GSB (student, admit or grad).
- She writes in her blog about JJ and scoretop and so on.
- GMAC does not cancel Jane Doe's scores for some reason (maybe she got the JJs from a friend instead of paying or some other reason).
- If it is brought to the attention of the school by someone else, they might ask Jane Doe what's going on. But I guess that if Jane Doe can lie to her school's face about it, she'll walk.

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New post 01 Jul 2008, 22:38
ishcabibble wrote:
However, I still have a question regarding the VIP section of the ST site. There seems to be conflicting information as to what people might have known when they signed up for the VIP section. Please excuse me since I never even heard of that website until recently, but when you signed up for the VIP section, were there two components - print out practice questions as well as a message board? And has anyone been able to determine definitively as to whether when one signed up for the VIP section it was to gain access to questions that were purported to be written in-house and owned by ST, or did it say, "Sign up here for our VIP section and for only $30 you can gain access to questions currently being used on the GMAT test"?


scoretop sold vip as questions written inhouse not as official test questions.. They did sell their JJ as official questions but that was before 2006.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 06:01
Quote:
scoretop sold vip as questions written inhouse not as official test questions


Thanks for the clarification! If this is indeed true, then it would be just about impossible to determine who signed up for the VIP section just for extra practice problems and who signed up knowing full well that they would encounter JJ. Therefore, I think that it would be just about impossible for GMAC to sanction every single person who paid for the VIP.

I do think, however, that they should totally go after those who provided the "live" questions as well as those fools who posted all over the blogosphere about how they got such a great score because of all the JJ they used! :)
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 07:21
bhatiagp wrote:
scoretop sold vip as questions written inhouse not as official test questions.. They did sell their JJ as official questions but that was before 2006.


Is that fact?
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 07:37
yes.. i was a scoretop member as well...and the sold other services like live coaching for 250$, and essay editing
it was really not possible to know that the VIP questions are live.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 08:00
bhatiagp wrote:
yes.. i was a scoretop member as well...and the sold other services like live coaching for 250$, and essay editing
it was really not possible to know that the VIP questions are live.


Cool. You have some insight then. How were the JJs accessed? and what format were they in? Was there a general understanding among the VIP member that there were no "live" questions? Or was it an unspoken understanding that there were such questions?

Were there advertisements within the VIP section? What did the VIP section give you access to?
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New post Updated on: 09 Jul 2008, 02:42
deleteddeleteddeleteddeleteddeleted

Originally posted by sumit1234 on 02 Jul 2008, 09:44.
Last edited by sumit1234 on 09 Jul 2008, 02:42, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 09:52
kidderek : I never used the JJ's as JJ's were provided by scoretop till 2006 and I started using scoretop only in 2007 end or early 2008.

BTW : - I was an ordinary member , and heres my insight as an unprivliged scoretop user

On the VIP questions they were nothing but a paid access to get 200 Quant questions and 100 Verbal questions for practice for 30 $ , for a period of one month. 4-5 questions would be posted daily on the forum and all members would discuss the answers.

It was really easy to be lured by scoretop, as on the first page itself they had debriefs of those who scored 700+ and invariably they would claim that VIP membership was beneficial. Honestly I dont remember any post where someone claimed that he saw questions from VIP on the exact test, but I do remember reading somewhere, that some test take claimed that the sets are representative of the actual test. With so many 700+ scorers it wouldnt be difficult to fall for the VIP membership after all its like receiving 300 practice questions for only 30$.Secondly it was clearly advertised on scoretop that these VIP questions were created by a scoretop team.

The one thing I found on scoretop , that may have irked GMAT was that people would often share links of scanned copies of the Manhattan GMAT, or OG 10 etc and these queries were not blocked by the moderators. So yes in a way the site provided access to copyrighted material.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 10:07
Very interesting. Were the 200Q + 100V downloadable? or copy-paste-able?

Ok, last question. To the best of your recollection, what was described in the 700+ debriefs that made the VIP section so persuasive? Was it just a simple statement of VIP section contains the most representative questions?
I would have immediately thought, in-house shilling.

But I do understand. The 700+ debriefs written here are a big reason why I stuck around.

bhatiagp wrote:
kidderek : I never used the JJ's as JJ's were provided by scoretop till 2006 and I started using scoretop only in 2007 end or early 2008.

BTW : - I was an ordinary member , and heres my insight as an unprivliged scoretop user

On the VIP questions they were nothing but a paid access to get 200 Quant questions and 100 Verbal questions for practice for 30 $ , for a period of one month. 4-5 questions would be posted daily on the forum and all members would discuss the answers.

It was really easy to be lured by scoretop, as on the first page itself they had debriefs of those who scored 700+ and invariably they would claim that VIP membership was beneficial. Honestly I dont remember any post where someone claimed that he saw questions from VIP on the exact test, but I do remember reading somewhere, that some test take claimed that the sets are representative of the actual test. With so many 700+ scorers it wouldnt be difficult to fall for the VIP membership after all its like receiving 300 practice questions for only 30$.Secondly it was clearly advertised on scoretop that these VIP questions were created by a scoretop team.

The one thing I found on scoretop , that may have irked GMAT was that people would often share links of scanned copies of the Manhattan GMAT, or OG 10 etc and these queries were not blocked by the moderators. So yes in a way the site provided access to copyrighted material.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 10:23
kidderek wrote:
Very interesting. Were the 200Q + 100V downloadable? or copy-paste-able?


The questions were not downloadable, they were only on the VIP forum as posts, to which only VIP members could reply and review.

You couldnt even cut and paste them. I say this as I had a friend who was VIP member, I asked him to cut and paste the questions while he was a member, he said its not possible, as the questions were in some scanned format , or some format where cut and paste doesnt work. He wasnt able to download it too. I thought I would use it to get some additional practice and feel for their questions. Unfortunately it didnt work..And my friend was lazy to type the questions and share them with me.. or maybe he felt I pay for the questions rather than getting them free..

I may not remember correctly as I would have last accessed the site in April , but on your query reg what made VIP debriefs very compulsive were the fact that all of the VIP's stated that VIP membership apart form OG, Manhattan Sc etc.. was instrumental in their success (700 + ). Some stated that they took online classes on scoretop by some scoretop instructors for their weak areas, and this helped them improve their scores . All in all a very positive aura was created around the membership. Again what was taught in personalised teaching for 250 $ by scoretop instructors and their instruction methodology is not known to me so I cant comment.

But I dont remember anyone stating that VIP questions are live questions or that he or she got actual questions from VIP on the test. Maybe such posts were restricted to VIP members only ,and not released to commoners or maybe such posts existed only when the JJ's existed.. I can only guess as I never came across any VIP claiming he saw VIP questions on his actual GMAT test. And now this VIP name sounds absurd. With 6000 members, could they all really be VIP.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 11:14
bhatiagp wrote:
kidderek wrote:
Very interesting. Were the 200Q + 100V downloadable? or copy-paste-able?


The questions were not downloadable, they were only on the VIP forum as posts, to which only VIP members could reply and review.

You couldnt even cut and paste them. I say this as I had a friend who was VIP member, I asked him to cut and paste the questions while he was a member, he said its not possible, as the questions were in some scanned format , or some format where cut and paste doesnt work. He wasnt able to download it too. I thought I would use it to get some additional practice and feel for their questions. Unfortunately it didnt work..And my friend was lazy to type the questions and share them with me.. or maybe he felt I pay for the questions rather than getting them free..

I may not remember correctly as I would have last accessed the site in April , but on your query reg what made VIP debriefs very compulsive were the fact that all of the VIP's stated that VIP membership apart form OG, Manhattan Sc etc.. was instrumental in their success (700 + ). Some stated that they took online classes on scoretop by some scoretop instructors for their weak areas, and this helped them improve their scores . All in all a very positive aura was created around the membership. Again what was taught in personalised teaching for 250 $ by scoretop instructors and their instruction methodology is not known to me so I cant comment.

But I dont remember anyone stating that VIP questions are live questions or that he or she got actual questions from VIP on the test. Maybe such posts were restricted to VIP members only ,and not released to commoners or maybe such posts existed only when the JJ's existed.. I can only guess as I never came across any VIP claiming he saw VIP questions on his actual GMAT test. And now this VIP name sounds absurd. With 6000 members, could they all really be VIP.


Your friend likely felt like 'I paid for it you should too' :p
Its not too difficult/time consuming to get a screen capture tool like snagit or something similar and send you the pics afterwards.

looking forward to more updates on this scandal...
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 11:19
thanks for the good info, bhatiagp!
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New post Updated on: 03 Jul 2008, 11:52
edited: to clarify some attributions/statements that caused needless debate

Dear G'clubbers,

As a regular user of this site for the last year, I need to be anonymous for this one - with ID, proxy, anonymizer and the whole shebang. When this scandal broke out, I was very pumped up like many others. Went to the BW comments, read every article, posted some anonymous crucify-them-all comments and then diligently followed this thread (with Rhyme's investigative journalism adding some spark). I wanted to take this chance, after several days of quiet observation, to look at it from another angle.

But over time, I've begun to realize how easy it is for us to be carried away with this whole "holier-than-thou" attitude and condemn everyone without thought. That's when I began to think a little harder, putting myself in the newcomers shoes when I stumbled upon (literally) this site and registered myself. Did I read 1000 posts before registering? I've posted tons of replies to the math/verbal sections, did I check the source of every question? Did I know (and did you) for sure there was nothing fishy going on on this site?

All my use of 'you' is meant for the reader of the post and not any particular person!


Then I applied the same I-am-100%-pure rule to myself and others in this thread. By that account, the following should apply

1. Did you ever look at 1000SC/CR, regardless of whether you used it, saw it in a test, read its footnote, or knew its source? yes=>guilty
2. Were you 100% sure that every question asked in the quant/verbal sections were not from copyrighted GMAC material like OG? no=>guilty
3. Did you ever read or respond to questions on Q/V sections with 100% confidence that the material was not suspect or live (could be cut-paste from elsewhere, but with your own argument - ignorance is not admissible by law) yes=>guilty
4. Did you ever participate in some other sites and were absolutely sure you never saw, participated or read questions that could be 'live'? yes=>guilty

If your answer to any of the questions has a "guilty" outcome,by the same rule, does that mean you would gladly have your score revoked and your life/reputation ruined? Keep in mind it doesn't matter whether you knew they were clean or not. It is quite improbable that you participated in such a large forum as this one without ever thinking some questions/sources could be suspect. And by the same colored brush, can I call you (and myself) a cheat by association?

Any student of statistics will know that in large "populations" the distribution is never a single point - it's quite stupid to think every scoretop user, VIP or not, was a cheat. Such a probability is just as likely as all gmatclubbers are 25 year old males whose birthday falls on 19th Feb. You will always have people who knew they were cheating, and those who had no idea and registered for variety of reasons. I can think of several unintentional cases

-registered thinking there were good practice questions
-the whole coaching thingy
-registered and did not use
-bulk registrations
-registrations for a friend (happens a lot due to CC/PP usage/restrictions in many countries)
-fraud (perhaps the smallest % but does happen)

Do we all read the disclaimers of every site and analyze it thoroughly before deciding our actions? I don't. It is easy for us here to sit on a high horse and comment eloquently (oh, they should've known!) without looking into ourselves and figuring out how easy it is to be to be mislead.

There is then the willingness to give such vast powers to GMAC. There are many of us here who post a lot of responses and help others. GMAC is currently looking at 7 other sites, and let's say their attention turned to us. They then methodically pick the top 50 posters/responders and find out that each of them had either participated in a thread that included illegal questions, with our without their knowledge. And then they decide to track us down and revoke our score, and call all cheats. What do we say then? "I did not know?"

Most of us join a bunch of sites, participate in them, buy bunch of online tests and exams and some of those do with illegal intentions and some others purely by chance. The whole point of a judiciary system is that when something happens, they find people who were actually guilty of crimes - and "association" and conjucture isn't good enough. I have aged parents and I work very hard and honest, I'm sure many of you do as well, would you want a taint because someone is on a zeal? When I checked the web archives, scoretop, like most other gmat sites, looks just the same. I shudder to think I could have been part of that site instead of this one. I bet there are thousands of users there cursing themselves as well.

I'm all for going after guilty parties, but I am absolutely not for large scale witch-hunting that hurts innocent people. It is terrifying and tomorrow we could be in that list. I know it feels all nice to puff up and play pure. My basic point is that not everyone knows, and in the Internet age it's very easy to be fall prey to a variety of scams. As someone who has seen a lot of this from technology perspective, I know how easy it is. My argument is for the innocents, because there's nothing to be said about those that were guilty.

The fix for problems like this has several aspects and I'm not getting into them - if I knew how to fix every complex problem I wouldn't be busting my guts to get into a B-school. But my thoughts?

One - shut down sites that encourage illegal behavior (done with scoretop)

Two - go after the top 5-10 users who disseminated knowingly, posted debriefs and their own exam questions. That would be a deterrent unlike anything we've seen before. The scare tactic has worked nicely already anyway

Three - keep a site watch list on mba.com site that people can refer to figure out where they should belong. Honestly, going by GMAC guidelines, almost all sites will have to do lots of cleaning or shut down, but that's another topic.

Other social, structural issues take longer to fix but there needs to be shorter/immediate solutions and the above are what I thought. It's almost like 99% of the clubbers (except margaret) won't agree with me, but that's OK. Since we're a pretty civil group, it shouldn't hurt for someone to take a different look at the problem.
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a side note to rhyme - man, I love you, but let us not to go after people with no knowledge of whether they are guilty or not. I saw that particular blogger's post and just removal of a link means nothing really. Given all the bad press and association problems scoretop has, some people might be removing the links - but it doesn't mean they cheated. It's easy to ruin reputation online with them having no chance to respond. Let's not do that.

Originally posted by justforthisone on 02 Jul 2008, 16:26.
Last edited by justforthisone on 03 Jul 2008, 11:52, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 18:00
Quote:

I'm all for going after guilty parties, but I am absolutely not for large scale witch-hunting that hurts innocent people.



I really don't think anyone was ever advocating a witch-hunt.... We all realize that some number - and it may be a lot - of innocent people are caught up on this. No one wants to see someone's life ruined, and I certainly don't wish that on anyone. Heck, part of me even feels bad for the cheaters. I can only imagine how enticing a site like that could be to someone in a moment of despair, and I can understand how someone (even knowingly) might in a moment of weakness sign up only to never use the site, or to use it so sparingly that its impact is immaterial. People make mistakes, and I certainly believe in forgive and forget.

Thats why I personally think that the only people who should be pursued are those that materially contributed or benefited - people who said things like "wow I saw 20 questions I knew the answer to, and by the way, I've posted 15 questions I could remember on the forum under June tests" (I paraphrased of course) - not everyone.

Your point about gmatclub is fair I suppose - its certainly possible that someone at some point posted a question from their exam here - there's really no way for us to know, but you really can't compare gmatclub to scoretop. For one, scoretop users posted the entire OG guide in PDF format - the entire darn thing - for download. That's not fair use, that's just stealing. Second, the site (at least in 2006 if not in 2007) pro-actively encouraged posting of live questions.... which no matter what country people are from, should be pretty clear is probably not acceptable. Finally, scoretop profited - to the tune of $300,000 - from these activities. By comparison, gmatclub has always cracked down hard on people coming in here offering anything that could be questionable. Posts get deleted quickly and users have been banned.

As for the blogs, I'm not saying they cheated, maybe they didn't. I just find it funny that blogs mentioning scoretop and JJs are being edited or deleted or going private. Certainly your point that that particular person may have just removed scoretop because the site is dead is valid.
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New post 02 Jul 2008, 18:06
Mr. Justforthisone,

Well put, but I think more than just 1% of the GMATClubbers agree with you, if you read through this thread again and look at the polls. I believe rhyme himself also believes in prosecuting ONLY those who knowingly (and verifiable) accessed or posted live questions, not all VIP members. While his link to the archive that removed a Scoretop link is just an example of what many people are doing in panic, the other link where the blogger fully admits to using JJs and seeing them appear on the test is as hard an evidence as I can see. Again, it depends on the situation and how much evidence one has.

This is generally a very civil and respectful group (as you already know, since you're a frequent poster here), and this is definitely one of the more "fire-y" topics in recent memory, but it doesn't mean that most (or even a majority) of the clubbers are for a "witch hunt", as you put it. Kidderek may be a little more zealous than the rest of us, but I think many clubbers are taking a "look and see" path and waiting for more evidence to surface before making a judgment.

Your argument and suggestions to fix the problem are well thought out and I agree mostly with them. Let's just hope GMAC does something to those true cheaters and not affect the innocents in the process.

EDIT: rhyme posted before I did, and stated the same points much better, as always. :P
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Re: Another Cheating Scandal  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jul 2008, 18:21
Justforthisone,

It seems GMAC agrees to an extent with your (and many other people's) thinking. Judging by the most recent comments by their CEO, it seems likely that only the people who gained an obvious advantage (bragging about JJs, etc), and those who posted live questions will face the full brunt of punishment.

I think that such a tactic has it's upside and downside. A lot of guilty people will probably not face consequences, but on the other side, people who are innocent will probably not face undue consequences either.

In this case, I feel it is better to let some guilty people go unscathed than to have innocent people effectively ruined. Those people that cheated to gain an advantage will have it catch up to them eventually (karma is a *complain*), while the innocent people have certainly (I hope) learned a valuable lesson and will be allowed to pursue their dreams.

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New post 02 Jul 2008, 18:35
justforthisone wrote:



justforthisone - Your post is full of inaccuracies and once I collect my thoughts, I'll tell you where you are wrong. However, we are all pretty much in agreement. And yes, I am more zealous than others. It's pretty cowardly of you to single me out while posting anonymously. Besides, how can anyone be blase about large groups cheating that negatively affects his score?
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Re: Another Cheating Scandal &nbs [#permalink] 02 Jul 2008, 18:35

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