Goodbye and Good Riddance, Scoretop

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Have you heard of the GMAT-prep site Scoretop.com? If you purchased their services, you may soon be wishing you hadn't. BusinessWeek.com has the story:

On June 20, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the [GMAT's] publisher, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a $2.3 million judgment against the operator of the site, Scoretop.com. GMAC has seized the site's domain name and shut down the site, and is analyzing a hard drive containing payment information.

GMAC said any students found to have used the Scoretop site will have their test scores canceled, the schools that received them will be notified, and the student will not be permitted to take the test again. Since most top B-schools require the GMAT, the students will have little chance of enrolling. "This is illegal," said Judy Phair, GMAC's vice-president for communications. "We have a hard drive, and we're going to be analyzing it. If you used the site and paid your $30 to cheat, your scores will be canceled. They're in big trouble."

Scoretop is so offensive to the makers of the GMAT because it obtained and published actual GMAT questions. This is in direct violation of the terms that every GMAT test-taker agrees to, and for obvious reasons: Anyone knowing the content of the test ahead of time would have a advantage over those who didn't.

The Scoretop site itself has been out of commission for some time, but you will still see occasional references in GMAT forums to "MJJ" and "VJJ." These are sets of questions that originated through Scoretop. If someone sends you these files, the GMAC may never find out about it, but that still doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Questionable "Actual" Questions

I've never seen the MJJ/VJJ sets, and never saw the Scoretop site, but I feel confident in telling you that any "actual questions" are not likely to be a useful resource.

After taking a three-and-a-half hour exam, test-takers may remember a couple of details from frustrating questions, but they are extremely unlikely to remember every detail of a question. Students of mine occasionally try to remember a question to show me (from GMATPrep, or some resource we don't have on hand), and almost no one can generate the exact question.

What that means is that a question that someone claims to remember from the GMAT is probably not exactly what they saw. Some details don't matter, but many small things are crucial. If the problem isn't exactly right, it could easily send you down a dead-end, studying things that the GMAT doesn't actually test.

Understanding Practice Questions

I also want to clarify one point from the BusinessWeek.com article. It says:

Unlike other GMAT test-prep sites, which use retired questions...

The resources published by the GMAC--The Official Guide and the GMATPrep Software--do largely draw upon retired questions. Some test-prep companies require that you purchase The Official Guide and then instruct you to do certain questions in that book at the proper time.

However, no GMAT test-prep site uses retired questions. The GMAC does not license their questions. If you see a question in a Kaplan book, or in an online course (or in Total GMAT Math), it was written by someone working for the test-prep company in question.

In those cases, what makes a "good" or "accurate" practice question is how closely it reflects actual GMAT questions. My practice questions are carefully patterned on examples from my vast library of retired problems; some other practice questions out there are not nearly as accurate.

There are lots of GMAT-prep resources out there, and as long as there are thousands of people studying for the GMAT, there will continue to be more each year. Some guidelines:

  • Stick with retired questions in The Official Guide.
  • Supplement those with accurate practice problems such as mine.
  • Steer clear of forums with word-of-mouth problems that may or may not be accurate.
Be careful out there!

 

 

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.

Total GMAT Verbal

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type you'll face on the test. Everything you need, all in one place, including 100+ realistic practice questions.
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