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July 10, 2008

Could any of the Scoretop VIP users be innocent?

UPDATED TO REFLECT THE COMMENT I RECEIVED. The update follows the original post.

One question that has been at the center of the Scoretop story is whether any of the VIP users could have been innocent. I was curious to see how obvious it was that Scoretop was selling real GMAT questions. Luckily, the The Wayback Machine provided me the means to check the site before GMAC took it over. You can find all the old Scoretop pages here and judge for yourself.

The oldest archived version of the site that I found was October 28, 2004. On it you can find a bunch of GMAT questions, but it is not obvious that anything inappropriate is going on until you hit the forum (click on this if you want to see how it all worked). It is damning and worth a read. Anyone (SEE UPDATE BELOW FOR AMENDMENT TO THIS COMMENT)who joined knew they were getting real questions collected by test takers. They were clearly engaged in cheating. Actually, while, as I previously indicated, I think GMAC may have legal problems taking on these test cheats, I hope they do. It might be too late to do anything about those who have already graduated with MBAs, but I do hope the schools consider taking whatever action they can.

I received an anonymous comment from someone who says he or she was a Scoretop VIP member and seemingly unaware that Scoretop was not involved in providing real test questions. Reading http://web.archive.org/web/20061230063431/www.scoretop.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12066&PN=1 , it certainly appears to be the case that Scoretop changed what it said it was selling. Whether that is the reality is another consideration which I lack the evidence to fully resolve.

Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine does not archive all web pages and certainly not what was in the VIP area, so I certainly can't say that users who purchased the service after Scoretop claimed that it changed were aware that cheating was going on. Therefore looking at such publicly archived pages once Scoretop no longer claimed to be providing real questions can't conclusively prove anything.

This certainly introduces a greater ambiguity into the intentions of Scoretop users who began using the service once it said it had changed. To that end, I will refrain from labeling such individuals as cheaters on the basis of what I can see on the website, but that label most certainly applies to users who were aware that Scoretop was providing real GMAT questions. I thank the anonymous commenter for bringing this to my attention.

Thus, to answer the question I initially posed, "Could any of the Scoretop VIP users be innocent?" I must conclude that while some are clearly not innocent, some might very well have been. As to this latter group, I simply don't have the evidence available to know. It should be enlightening to see what GMAC determines.

What do you think? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com.
-Adam Markus
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