Q&A: Ensuring Test Security and Fairness

Posted by Zach Fernebok
Zach Fernebok is the Product Marketing Manager at GMAC. He is responsible for overseeing the creation and distribution of promotional campaigns for GMAC’s assessments, including the GMAT Exam. Zach holds a Master of Science degree in Marketing from American University’s Kogod School of Business.

Posted on Oct 11, 2022 12:13:50 PM

blog_student taking test1Did you know there's an entire team at GMAC that's dedicated to maintaining test security? The Test Security Team leverages the latest technology and continuously adapts its techniques to ensure that exams are administered securely and fairly. There's a lot more involved in test security than you may think!

To celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we interviewed a member of the GMAT Test Security Team - Marvin Olmedo, Director of Supply Chain & Operations. We aim to amplify GMAC’s approach to test security and the measures employed to prevent cheating, ensure the validity of the assessments, and maintain the integrity of test scores. Here's what Marvin had to say - 

Before we get into test security, can you tell us about yourself and your role at GMAC?

As the Director of Supply Chain & Operations at GMAC, I am responsible for test security, channel management, supply chain, and digital asset management. I’ve had a long career in supply chain management, and prior to joining GMAC in 2019, I’ve been fortunate to work with supply chain and operations teams around the world, leading reengineering and operational optimization initiatives for various services and industries.

What steps has GMAC taken to evolve its test security practices?

Test security at GMAC is an ever-evolving and ever-changing endeavor. We are constantly evaluating and updating the practices we use to deter, detect, and take action against bad actors. Delivering tests in a responsible manner is critical to GMAC’s mission. We consistently take measures to help ensure test takers have a fair and equal opportunity when taking one of our assessments. We also ensure they aren’t engaging in behavior that could give them an unfair advantage over other candidates. We take this responsibility very seriously.

Our practices fall under four categories: prevention, detection, enforcement, and communication. They include measures such as live proctoring, video monitoring, qualitative and quantitative analysis, post-exam forensic analysis, whistle-blower/tips programs, cooperation with law enforcement agencies, and more.

What are the consequences of cheating? What actions does GMAC take when it has been determined that someone acted inappropriately?

There are serious real-world consequences for cheating or any attempt to circumvent security measures. Consequences can go beyond test scores being canceled. Schools that received scores are also informed in any situations involving evidence of cheating and using unfair means to earn a score, and test takers are often prohibited from taking GMAC exams in the future. In some cases, candidates may face legal consequences for engaging in illegal or fraudulent behavior.

No one at GMAC enjoys reading heartfelt appeal letters from candidates who get caught, apologizing for their misdeeds and lamenting over the loss of what could have been a very bright future, filled with opportunities. It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter whether a candidate recently applied, has already been accepted, received a scholarship, is currently in a program, or has already graduated. If our Test Security team determines that a score is not valid, it is our duty to share that information with schools.

Unfortunately, there are individuals and “services” that claim to “help” test takers get high scores through cheating. GMAC cares about all of its test takers and we want to encourage individuals interested in pursuing a graduate business degree to not engage with or fall victim to these scams. The truth is they only operate to help themselves, often by extorting candidates out of their money and putting candidates’ futures at risk.

Why is it important that schools only accept Official Score Reports?

For admissions teams, our Official Score Reports are a direct line of communication from GMAC to a school or program, which is secure and more accurate than self-reported, unofficial scores. Today, there is no shortage of demands on everyone’s time and budgets and it can be easy to understand why a program or team might be tempted to accept an unofficial score from a candidate – thinking it’s a relatively safe shortcut or appropriate to do at early stages in the admissions process. However, doing so can be detrimental.

Accepting an unofficial score means that you’re relying on that score as one measure to help assess whether you invest time and resources in moving a candidate forward in your admissions process. If the self-reported, unofficial score gets canceled due to a test security violation, that effort and investment does not pay off - it’s wasted.

Additionally, when an unofficial score is sent to a school, GMAC has no way of knowing that a program received the score and we will not notify you if irregularities are detected and the score is canceled. These are important things for admissions teams to consider and be fully aware of before investing resources and making important decisions, such as offering acceptance into programs, financial aid, and scholarships. Also, adhering to a policy of only accepting Official Score Reports helps reinforce to candidates that your program values assessments and the efforts that candidates put into preparing for and applying to your programs.

What does it mean when a candidate receives an email that says their exam is "undergoing a review"?

I'll start with the good news – reviews are a normal part of our process at GMAC and most often, reviews don’t take more than a few days. Although during peak testing periods, or as a result of unusual circumstances, they can occasionally take up to 20 days.

We know that candidates are often anticipating the release of their official scores and some may have upcoming admissions deadlines. We proactively communicate with candidates via email if their exam is selected for review, including sharing information about when they can expect the review to be completed. The email we send isn’t meant to be alarming or to indicate that anything is amiss – and without it, candidates would lack insight into why their official scores weren’t yet available, which can increase anxiety and customer support inquiries.

GMAC's process for what triggers a review is confidential and frequently changes. Our Test Security Team often updates its technology and tactics to ensure its processes are effective.


GMAC views test security not only as an integral and important part of delivering our assessments but also as a partnership with schools and candidates, which both have an important role to play in helping ensure the secure and fair delivery of exams.

We encourage anyone with questions, security concerns, or suspicions of cheating to contact us at testsecurity@gmac.comVisit GMAC’s Test Security page to learn more.

Topics: GMAC Assessments, graduate business school candidate, graduate business school assessment, graduate business school exam, graduate business school, graduate business school test, MBA, standardized testing, test, cheating

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