GMAT Scoring Error Hurt A Thousand Business School Applicants; Test-Takers Were Not Told of Mistake for Ten Months

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (941) 395-6773
or Monty Neill (857) 350-8207

for immediate release, Friday, May 25, 2001

Nearly one thousand recent business school applicants from across the nation had their chances for acceptance damaged by scoring errors on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), according to FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing.
An Educational Testing Service (ETS) letter, obtained by FairTest, reveals that the exam’s manufacturer, had to correct the scores of “three percent of examinees who took the GMAT in February and March 2000.” The correction increased GMAT scores by up to 80 points on the test’s 200 to 800 scale, a difference that could significantly alter the chances for admission at competitive business schools. The ETS letter said that the problem developed when “some questions in the Quantitative section were incorrectly counted as not having been answered.”
Test-takers were not told of the problem until mid-December 2000. “Once again, the testing industry’s incompetence is exceeded only by its arrogance,” said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “College seniors taking the GMAT to enter business schools that fall were not notified of the mis-scoring until well after admissions decisions were made. In fact, many test-takers may never have received notice of the error because they had long since moved from their undergraduate addresses.”
“How many more examples will it take for academics and politicians to realize that it makes no sense to rely on these severely flawed products to make high-stakes educational decisions?” added FairTest Executive Director Monty Neill. “Tests will always be imperfect instruments, far too inaccurate to be used as the primary factor to determine admission, promotion, or graduation. Yet that is precisely how many states are misusing them. Now President Bush wants to tie federal money to test score gains. Bad decisions, erroneous awards and lawsuits are sure to follow.”
“This is not the first time ETS’ exams have messed up young peoples’ lives,” Schaeffer continued. “Internal company documents admit that the computer adaptive testing technology used for the GMAT was rushed to the marketplace for financial reasons, not because it is fairer or more accurate.” FairTest cited cases of “the screen of death,” in which more than a thousand test-takers’ computers froze up after all questions had been answered but before a score was recorded. Late last year, ETS admitted that the computer adaptive Graduate Record Exam (GRE) produced inaccurate scores for some students.
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a copy of ETS’ letter admitting the GMAT scoring error, background material on computerized testing problems, and contact information about students whose admissions chances were hurt by the error are available on request