GMAT Palm-Vein Scanning

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For the last few years, part of the GMAT test-taking process has been a pre-exam fingerprint. The fingerprint is one piece of data the GMAC uses to ensure that no one takes the test multiple times under different names.

This particular scam, in which a good test-taker charges thousands of dollars to sit for the exam under someone else's name, has long been a concern of the GMAC's. Of late, the security of test questions has been more frequently in the news, but that doesn't mean the GMAC has forgotten about the earlier threat.

Over the next year, fingerprinting at GMAT testing centers will be phased out in favor of palm-vein scanning. Palm-vein scans seem to have two advantages: They are more difficult to fake, and they aren't associated with law enforcement. There's an excellent recent article about the change in the Wall Street Journal.

What This Means To You

Some test centers in Asia will begin using the palm-vein scanners as early as this month, the scanners will be in use in the US before the end of the year, and the transition will be complete within about nine months. If you're taking the exam in September or October, you may not know until you get the center which security method the center is using.

Of course, it shouldn't matter much to you whether you have to do a fingerprint or a palm-vein scan. Neither takes more than a few moments, and this is all before you sit down at a computer to take the test.

But as with all things about the GMAT, the more you know, the better prepared you are. The whole testing procedure, especially the pre-test wait and security checks (check-in, picture, fingerprint/palm-vein scan, etc.) can be nerve-rattling. It's certainly different than the pre-study routine you're likely to develop at home.

I always tell my students to expect more stress than they can imagine. There's no way to be fully prepared for the nature of the test center after weeks or months of doing GMAT practice questions in an office, living room, or coffee shop. The palm-vein scan is just one part of that. Plan to encounter a bit of the unexpected, and be ready to put it out of your head when you sit down to begin the exam.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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