Standardized Test Issues - GMAT

If you're hoping to achieve admission to an MBA program, you'll likely need to take the GMAT (at least once). For over 60 years, the GMAT—or the Graduate Management Admission Test—has been an integral part of the business school application process. Over 2300 schools use the GMAT in order to assess applicants for their programs, and schools in over 110 countries receive GMAT score reports.

In other words, it's a widely-used, hugely important test for your future. It's definitely in your best interest to make sure that your GMAT score is as high as possible.

It's equally important to avoid any association with misconduct, either on your GMAT application or during the administration of the test itself. Misconduct or test issues with the GMAT can result in score cancellation, which would render months of strenuous preparation on your part null. If this happens, you'll likely have to reconsider your business school application timeline—which could interfere with many other plans you may have.

You need to make sure that this doesn't happen. If you suspect that an allegation of misconduct could be in your future, or if you've already received word that your scores could be in jeopardy due to alleged misconduct, it's time to team up with a student defense attorney to protect your future.

What Is the GMAT?

The GMAT is a computer-based, multiple-choice standardized exam that is a vital step in your application process when you're trying to get into business school. MBA programs around the globe often require GMAT scores in order to consider you for admission.

The GMAC, or the Graduate Management Admission Council, develops and administers the GMAT. In general, the higher your GMAT score, the more competitive your business school application.

On the GMAT, you'll find questions relating to a wide variety of subjects, including algebra, arithmetic, geometry, data analysis, and grammar. However, the GMAT is less about basic manipulation of formulas and more about your ability to evaluate and analyze written material. The GMAT will ask students to think critically and respond logically to the prompts it gives in a time-efficient manner.

What Types of Misconduct Occur During GMAT Application and Administration?

Since the scores that students receive after sitting the GMAT are extremely important for business school admission processes, the GMAC has created stringent guidelines to ensure that zero misconduct occurs to interfere with the integrity of the test-taking process. Examples of rules and regulations that you need to follow before, during, and after taking the GMAT include:

  • Bringing valid identification to the testing center;
  • Leaving prohibited items at home, including bulky coats and bags, calculators, notes, mobile devices, lip balm, stopwatches, and more;
  • Leaving all notes that you take during the GMAT in the testing room after you have completed the exam.

The GMAC has also provided a list of common policy violations that could result in score cancellation. These violations include:

  • Communicating with others about the exam during breaks, or after the exam with any identifying information
  • Reproducing any part of the test after the exam
  • Leaving the testing room without express permission
  • Leaving the test center during a break
  • Acting in a disruptive manner during exam administration
  • Providing false information on your GMAT application
  • Tampering with the operation of the testing computer
  • Accessing unauthorized technology during the exam
  • Smuggling in illicit study guides
  • Listening to music during exam administration

Any of these policy violations (or allegations citing these policy violations) could result in a ban from retesting for a certain amount of time, cancellation of your scores, forfeiture of any test fees you have already paid, and a notification to business schools regarding your misconduct.

The ban on testing and score cancellation is bad enough, but the idea that the GMAC could reach out to your dream school and make your likelihood of admission there much more difficult is untenable. Before anything like that happens, you need to take charge of the narrative. Work with a student defense attorney today to make sure that the first time your dream school hears your name, it's on your own terms.

What Happens if the GMAC Cancels My Scores?

In some cases, the first time you learn of your score cancellation might be on your score report itself. Instead of your score, the GMAC will include a ‘reason code' on your report that points to the rationale behind your score cancellation.

The GMAC has a few different tiers of logic behind score cancellation. The different reasons for score cancellation include:

Reason Code T - Testing Issue: This generally refers to an administrative or payment issue surrounding the exam, although disruptions at the test center outside of your control could also result in this type of cancellation. The consequences of this type of cancellation include a withheld or canceled score. Sometimes, this type of issue will affect multiple test-takers. The GMAC includes the following examples as common testing issues:

Possible exposure (either accidental or purposeful) to test content prior to exam administration

  • Unusual patterns in your given answers
  • Unusual score changes, if you've taken the GMAT more than once
  • An inconsistent performance between different sections of the exam

It's important to note that the GMAC does state that they ‘may cancel your scores, even if we cannot confirm your direct involvement in the violation'.

In some cases, if the GMAC determines that a Testing Issue renders your score invalid, they may offer you a free retest or a refund of your examination fees. However, these remedies are available at their sole discretion, and may only be available within a very short timeframe.

Reason Code P - Policy Violation: If your score report contains no score and instead has a letter ‘P,' the GMAC likely suspects that you may have used an illicit device or accessed a study guide during the administration of your exam. The consequences of this type of score cancellation include canceled scores as well as a possible notification regarding your suspected behavior to each of your score-receiving schools.

Reason Code S - Serious Policy Violation: This uppermost tier of violation includes the following types of suspected or alleged behaviors:

Disrupting others during exam administration (which is not limited to but may include verbal altercations, physical violence, lewd acts, or anything else according to the discretion of the exam facilitator)

  • Falsifying your score report
  • Taking the test for another person
  • Disclosing test content to others
  • Providing fraudulent payment
  • Canceling payment

These more serious policy violations may merit more serious punitive measures from the GMAC. Typical consequences associated with these more serious actions may include:

  • Cancellation of your GMAT score
  • A ban from the testing center or from the GMAT itself for one to five years
  • A notification to your selected score-receiving schools

Is There Anything I Can Do if the GMAC Has Decided to Cancel My Scores?

The GMAC has very little tolerance for cheating or any behaviors that interfere with the integrity of its processes. You may not even receive much notice: Their website notes that they will notify you in writing “in some, but not all” situations if they plan to invalidate or cancel your scores.

In some cases, they may decide that a case merits review instead of simple cancellation. In others, you may have the chance to appeal. If so, you will need to file an official appeal with the GMAT program within 30 days of the date of their decision. (Note that if they do not send you written notice of this decision, adhering to this deadline could be a very tricky matter.)

The GMAC recommends waiting until receipt of your Score Revocation Letter to file your appeal, and asks that you submit as much supporting information as possible to back up your request for the GMAC to reconsider or reverse its decision, saying, “Scores are canceled if there is a good-faith reason to question their validity. Your appeal must provide information that resolves these issues.”

The GMAC will review your appeal and, at its discretion, provide you with options for your consideration. These may include:

  • Voluntary score cancellation
  • A free retest
  • Further score cancellation arbitration

Unfortunately, even these options may not be available to all. The GMAC makes it clear that there are circumstances in which it will cancel or withhold scores “without prior notice or an opportunity to appeal.”

If you feel that this strips you of a lot of your power or agency regarding your future, you're correct. If the GMAC suspects you of any testing issues or misconduct, you may ultimately be at its mercy.

At the Lento Law Firm, we don't believe that that's an acceptable outcome. That's why we're here to help you. Call our team today to see how we can support you with a strategic defense.

How a Student Defense Lawyer Can Help You

If the GMAC has reserved the right to cancel your scores, in some cases without giving you the opportunity to do anything about it, what can you hope to do about it?

An experienced and empathetic student defense attorney will have the training necessary to have tough conversations on your behalf. They can work with testing facilitators, the GMAC, and other entities to negotiate a preferable outcome.

Wondering how else a student defense lawyer can come to your aid?

  • They can help with reputation management. One of the more insidious repercussions of a testing issue or alleged GMAT-related misconduct involves the poor association that this event could bring to your name. This, even more than delays in your application timeline or the frustration or fees that accompany a forced retest, could follow you for a very long time. It's crucial to ensure that the stigma of testing misconduct does not mar your future before you even get into graduate school. Your attorney can help you own your narrative to avoid the consequences of a bad reputation.
  • They can help you draft appeals and other important documents in the most strategic way possible. Your attorney will have formal training in the best, most persuasive way to gather and present evidence supporting your claim. Depending on the nature of your misconduct and the information that the GMAC sends you, you may only have one opportunity to make an appeal for your scores. Your lawyer can help you make that count.
  • They can allow you to relax. Working with a professional student defense attorney might be the best thing possible for your nerves at this time. You're already navigating a very stressful time in your academic career; these allegations of misconduct likely haven't helped. Your attorney can help you handle deadlines, documents, tough conversations, hearings, and anything else that may accompany your attempts to fight for your scores (and your future). They'll shoulder the burden so you can focus on keeping your test-taking skills sharp, strategizing your next scholastic steps, and relaxing as much as possible during this stressful season.

Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Defend Your Scores

You've put in the hours. You've taken practice tests. You've done the research and the preparation, and you showed up to the test center on time. You did everything right—but, now, because of a mistake, a misunderstanding, or a false allegation of misconduct, you won't be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

If you have received word that the GMAC has canceled or invalidated your scores due to misconduct, it's time to take action. You need those scores to continue on in your education.

Joseph D. Lento can help you make sure your timelines remain intact. Protect your goals, your reputation, and your future by calling the Lento Law firm and working with a seasoned, savvy, and strategic student defense lawyer. For years, Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended students across the nation from misconduct allegations. Reach out today, and we'll be able to help you as well.

Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to learn more about our services.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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