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GMAT cancels score due to policy breach - help

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New post 17 Nov 2016, 17:00
Hello,

I am not sure what to do. I took the GMAT last Friday for the first time and got a 730. On Monday evening I received an email from Pearson Vue telling me that my score has been cancelled because I had brought a lip balm into the test. Yes, I mistakenly brought lip balm into the test but within the first five minutes the invigilator removed it from the exam. The email told me that I have 31 days to appeal so I appealed stating this was an accident and how I could not see why having a lip balm affected my score. They came back and told me today stating my appeal has been denied because there has been a policy breach. I don't really know what to do - has anyone had a similar experience?

It states on the GMAT website that in any such appeal, the issue to be decided would be whether GMAC and/or Pearson Vue had a good faith reason to question the validity of the GMAT Score. If this is the case, why does my appeal have nothing to do with whether the lip balm which was removed at the start of the exam affects the validity of the GMAT Score?

I also spent one hour and 40 minutes on the phone to GMAC customer service and in the end they told me there is nothing they can do and that I have to email the security team directly for them to answer the questions.

I can't retake the exam for 31 days which means I will miss my application deadlines. I honestly do not know what to do and I cannot see how this is fair.

If there are any suggestions for what I should do please tell me. I think this is extremely unfair and I do not see how a lip balm which was removed at the start of the exam affects the validity of my GMAT score.

Aysha
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New post 17 Nov 2016, 17:27
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asuzuki1409 wrote:
Hello,

I am not sure what to do. I took the GMAT last Friday for the first time and got a 730. On Monday evening I received an email from Pearson Vue telling me that my score has been cancelled because I had brought a lip balm into the test. Yes, I mistakenly brought lip balm into the test but within the first five minutes the invigilator removed it from the exam. The email told me that I have 31 days to appeal so I appealed stating this was an accident and how I could not see why having a lip balm affected my score. They came back and told me today stating my appeal has been denied because there has been a policy breach. I don't really know what to do - has anyone had a similar experience?

It states on the GMAT website that in any such appeal, the issue to be decided would be whether GMAC and/or Pearson Vue had a good faith reason to question the validity of the GMAT Score. If this is the case, why does my appeal have nothing to do with whether the lip balm which was removed at the start of the exam affects the validity of the GMAT Score?

I also spent one hour and 40 minutes on the phone to GMAC customer service and in the end they told me there is nothing they can do and that I have to email the security team directly for them to answer the questions.

I can't retake the exam for 31 days which means I will miss my application deadlines. I honestly do not know what to do and I cannot see how this is fair.

If there are any suggestions for what I should do please tell me. I think this is extremely unfair and I do not see how a lip balm which was removed at the start of the exam affects the validity of my GMAT score.

Aysha

Dear Aysha,

My friend, I am very sorry to hear about this.

What has happened to you is extremely unfair, and quite unfortunately, fairness has very little to do with how things play out. GMAC and Pearson have your money and have no economic reason to change. I believe, short of getting a lawyer and threatening to sue them, you would not be able to put any leverage on them. If this happened to me and I got no satisfaction from talking to GMAC, I definitely would be talking to a lawyer the next day.

Unfortunately, their policy, while arbitrary and even nonsensical in some ways, is strict and clear. While you clearly had nothing but ordinary lip balm, if they allowed this, then perhaps someone would figure out how to dose themselves with some kind of performance-enhancing drug applied in a form that looks like lip balm. Talk to a lawyer, but if you agreed to their policies at the outset, you may not even have legal recourse.

Suppose a lawyer tells you there is nothing you can do. Suppose your options are exhausted. In my view you have two basic options.
1) one is to be angry, bitter, cultivating a victim mindset, and let this incident be a chip on your shoulder throughout your life
2) the other is to embrace this as an opportunity to think deeply about what you want to do with your life; if you decide you still want an MBA and life in the business world, then you can extra time to prepare for the GMAT next time as best you can.
Obviously, many people choose (1), but (2) is a more heroic path.

One idea: if you sign up for Magoosh, you would be eligible for our score guarantee. Magoosh is friendly enough that we would honor your 730 as a previous score (if there's any problem, tell them that I said so!) Thus, you would have a money-back guarantee that you get a 780 next time! That would be an excellent way to spend the time until you can take the GMAT again.

Once again, my friend, I am very sorry to hear about this situation, and I wish you the very best. Let me know if you have any questions.

Mike McGarry :-)
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New post 17 Nov 2016, 17:41
Hi Mike,

Well this isn't really a solution but I do appreciate the reply.

What is magoosh and how will this help me?

Aysha

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New post 17 Nov 2016, 20:22
Hi Aysha,

You should certainly continue to plead your case, but it's possible that Pearson might not reinstate your score. That having been said, you should consider how best to proceed from that result. Given GMAC's current testing rules, you only have to wait 16 days (not 31 days) before retaking the GMAT. In addition, many Schools will consider your application even if your Official Score comes in after the application deadline (as long as the rest of your application is in on time). Not all Schools allow this though, so you might want to contact the School, explain your situation and see if they'll still accept your application under the circumstances.

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New post 17 Nov 2016, 23:11
Hi Rich,

I don't understand Pearson Vue says I have to wait 31 days. Why do you believe under the current GMAC rules I only have to wait 16 days? Where have you seen this?


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New post 18 Nov 2016, 03:05
Aysha

Sorry to hear about your case.

Well the 16 days thing is on the GMAC website. You can re take the test after 16 days.

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New post 18 Nov 2016, 11:19
asuzuki1409 wrote:
Hi Mike,

Well this isn't really a solution but I do appreciate the reply.

What is magoosh and how will this help me?

Aysha

Dear Aysha,

I'm happy to respond. :-)

First of all, Magoosh is an online test prep that has supported thousands of students in getting higher GMAT scores. We have helped people with low scores get much higher, and we have helped people with elite scores go even higher. Your 730 was already an impressive score: Magoosh could help you go even higher. In fact, our score guarantee says that you will go 50-points higher!
Here's our free blog.
We have a library of 200+ GMAT lessons covering all the content and strategy you need. Here's a free sample Verbal lesson:
Substantive Clauses
We have 1000+ GMAT practice question, questions that have undergone evaluation through a rigorous statistical feedback procedure. Here's a free sample math question:
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Here's a free SC question:
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When you submit your answer to either of those questions, the following page will have a complete video explanation of the problem. Each one of our GMAT practice questions has its own VE: this sort of immediate feedback is exactly what accelerates the understanding of our student. That's Magoosh.

Now, about the larger question. If you are fortunate enough, on your own or with the help of a lawyer, to reverse this unfair decision, that would be fantastic. That would be a victory for justice. I truly wish you the best in that regard. Unfortunately, I am not optimistic about your prospects to change this situation, but I truly wish you the best. It's a sad fact about our world that, at so many levels, justice does not prevail.

You see, my friend, assuming that nothing changes about this situation with GMAC, then for whatever reason, you have been dealt an unfair setback, really a significant defeat. Many people, when life hands them a defeat, become bitter, vindictive, filled with blame for others, filled with self pity, and simply entrenched in the complaint that what happened was unfair; in this way, people defeat themselves internally after they have been handed an external defeat. As long as we are complaining about what others have or haven't done, we are not acknowledging our own agency and power. Life regularly hands each one of us defeats of one kind or another, and many people remain internally defeated afterwards. In fact, we are all more powerful than we realize.

My friend, if GMAC doesn't reverse this unfair decision, I want you to recognize that you have a tremendous opportunity. The question before you is how you use this massive derailment of your plans to move even more powerfully into your future? How can you turn this defeat into a victory? You see, if you really can do this, if you can turn this defeat into a tremendously positive experience over the next year, then can write about it in your essays in the next round, you will have something much rarer and much more valuable than an elite GMAT score. The resilience and courage it takes to bounce back from a defeat are worth their weight in gold, and if you can cultivate these qualities and maintain them through your career, you will have a edge in a moment of crisis that most of your peers will lack. The opportunity of this moment in your life is truly tremendous, but you must embrace this opportunity with the courageous heart of a lion.

If you decide after this that you still want to pursue B-school, an MBA, and a career in business, then Magoosh is one option you have to guarantee that the next time you sit for the GMAT, your performance will be even more impressive. That might be one element of turning this defeat into a victory. The biggest elements, though, will be in the kind of attitude you are able to cultivate.

I have said a great deal here. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, let me know. I sincerely wish you the very best!

Mike McGarry :-)
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New post 18 Nov 2016, 22:32
That is so unfair!

One could argue that the candidate was not properly scrutinized before entering the exam hall. What is GMAC or Pearson Vue doing to ensure that candidate is entering inside with only things that are allowed? If they already do have a system/process to ensure this, the person who is supposed to follow did not do a good job. Why should the test taker be penalized? If they do not have such system/process - shouldn't they come up with one? Again, why should the test taker be penalized?

So sorry to hear about that!
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New post 22 Nov 2016, 07:12
Hey so I just wanted to reply from a lawyer's perspective. While I certainly agree this sucks- I highly disagree with wasting your money on a lawyer to fight this. Or people saying it's everyone else's fault. It was a small mistake, but if the GMAC/PearsonVue allow this, it becomes a slippery slope that can hurt the integrity of the exam. Yea, you didn't cheat, but what if someone replaced the lettering on the lip palm packaging? It's a lot easier to have a blanket cancellation policy than risking litigation for investigations into each individual incident.

The rules clearly state that you aren't allowed to bring anything in to the testing room. You sign an agreement when you take the test/sign up for the GMAT agreeing to score cancellations when there are policy breaches. PeasonVue can attempt to search you, but it's not their duty to make sure you don't take anything into the testing room.

Please just realize this sucks but you can overcome and even improve the exam on your next attempt. Don't let this bring you down. I think whoever you spoke with on the phone was mistaken because the rules changed on the wait time somewhat recently - you have to wait 16 days after your last testing period. So chin up and rock it in a few more days!
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New post 03 Oct 2018, 04:29
Hi everybody,

I'm going through a similar situation here. After 20 days of taking my second GMAT attempt and receiving a 700 unofficial score, yesterday I received a letter from Pearson Vue notifying that my score was cancelled due to a policy breach because I used a chapstick during the test. While this is true, I feel this is just so unfair! I worked so hard and in so many ways to improve from my 490 first attempt score!! I also happen to have extreme dry skin and I need to always keep with me a lipbalm to moisturize my lips. Obviously in a stress situation like the GMAT test (and even more after my first score), this situation got worst and in a innocent act, I used it. But the thing is that the test supervisor never notified me about the policy breach. I was so innocent about it that I even showed it to him when I entered the test room and he didn't said anything about it.

Regardless of my justifications and how frustrated I'm feeling, I know I breached the policy and now I got a chance to appeal to Pearson Vue's decision. Does anyone has any suggestions on what should be the strategy I should use to appeal? Has anyone heard of a successful appealling case?

I really appreciate any help here!

Thanks,

Carolina
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New post 03 Oct 2018, 13:34
carolinapinzon wrote:
Hi everybody,

I'm going through a similar situation here. After 20 days of taking my second GMAT attempt and receiving a 700 unofficial score, yesterday I received a letter from Pearson Vue notifying that my score was cancelled due to a policy breach because I used a chapstick during the test. While this is true, I feel this is just so unfair! I worked so hard and in so many ways to improve from my 490 first attempt score!! I also happen to have extreme dry skin and I need to always keep with me a lipbalm to moisturize my lips. Obviously in a stress situation like the GMAT test (and even more after my first score), this situation got worst and in a innocent act, I used it. But the thing is that the test supervisor never notified me about the policy breach. I was so innocent about it that I even showed it to him when I entered the test room and he didn't said anything about it.

Regardless of my justifications and how frustrated I'm feeling, I know I breached the policy and now I got a chance to appeal to Pearson Vue's decision. Does anyone has any suggestions on what should be the strategy I should use to appeal? Has anyone heard of a successful appealling case?

I really appreciate any help here!

Thanks,

Carolina


Hey Carolina,

Sorry to hear about your issues. It does seem super unfair that they cancel a score based on chapstick. Unfortunately, it is against their terms and conditions to taking their exam and as per we do agree to these when we take the test. I guess you could appeal and try to tell them you have a condition that requires you to use chapstick frequently. You should also probably mention that you showed them the chapstick and they let it through, so the fault is the test administrators and not yours. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't, but you could atleast try. Hope this all works out for you! If it doesn't, you could always retake the test, if you scored a 700 once you might do better next time around!

Good luck!
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New post 03 Oct 2018, 17:34
Hi carolinapinzon

Sorry to hear about the score cancellation.

I suggest, if not done already, then write an email to them. Detail the reasons for your need to use the chapstick & stress on the fact that the proctor at the exam center gave you permission.

Try to reason with them, citing
- your medical condition
- exam anxiety, making you forget the details of rules & regulations
- ignorance of the test supervisor

It is very unfortunate that it happened to you for such an innocent reason, however your case doesn't have solid backing. Still give it a try & if they deny you, then look at it positively & move on quickly.

Your time will be better used to focus on a retake strategy, take it as an opportunity to score even better.


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New post 03 Oct 2018, 18:17
carolinapinzon wrote:
But the thing is that the test supervisor never notified me about the policy breach. I was so innocent about it that I even showed it to him when I entered the test room and he didn't said anything about it.


Someone replied to OP about the invigilator not doing, essentially, a pat down for contraband, which is preposterous. Actually showing the invigilator something is interesting though.
If one were to explicitly ask the invigilator if something breaches policy (water, chewing gum, lip balm, address written on hand etc) and the invigilator says it's fine, if that gives recourse of sorts.

Of course, the best thing to do is read the policy and take nothing.
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New post 03 Oct 2018, 18:22
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That’s a great score improvement. I would reschedule in 16 days. Stay focused and primed to retake so you keep everything fresh. Your other goal, besides fighting GMAC should be protecting your score.

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Re: GMAT cancels score due to policy breach - help  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2018, 09:31
bb wrote:
That’s a great score improvement. I would reschedule in 16 days. Stay focused and primed to retake so you keep everything fresh. Your other goal, besides fighting GMAC should be protecting your score.

BB

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carolinapinzon, I just wanted to agree with bb above. Yup, keep fighting GMAC, but I'm incredibly impressed by the 210-point improvement -- that's soooooooo hard to do. You've already achieved a ton, and most of your energy should go toward keeping yourself rested, sharp, and fresh so that you can get another 700+ in a couple of weeks. Don't let GMAC's silliness get you down, and go kick some butt next time, even if GMAC doesn't do the right thing.

Good luck with everything, we're rooting for you!
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