GMAT Impact: Test Your Critical Reasoning Skills: Are Top GMAT Scorers Less Ethical?

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Some interesting—and alarming—articles have been making the rounds, following on the heels of an academic study published by professors at the University of Akron and Cleveland State University. The more reputable articles report such sweeping conclusions that I actually wondered whether the journalists got it wrong, so I went to the source (I can link only to the abstract here, but I did read the full study).

When I read the study’s methodology, I knew I had my next article topic. We are going to test our Critical Reasoning (CR) skills on an actual academic study! You might have to do something similar in business school (admittedly with a business case, not an academic study), so let us test your B-school readiness now!

The basic controversy is this: the study claims to have found a correlation between high GMAT scores and less ethical behavior. The study also concludes that this correlation is causally related (more on this in the full article; I provide the link later in this post) and makes some high-level recommendations to business schools about changes they should make in how they use the GMAT. Because the study has gotten some publicity, several journalists have expanded on the conclusions, sometimes to the point of hyperbole (one suggested, I assume in jest, that schools start selecting students based on lowest GMAT score!).

A blog post is not long enough to discuss the topic fully, so I will give you an introduction here and then send you off to the full article.

The article first defines correlation and causation. If you have heard these terms before, try to articulate to yourself what they mean before you move ahead and read the article. We also discuss assumptions, which you have run across during your study of Critical Reasoning. How does the GMAT use assumptions?

We then take a look at a very small portion of the study, a factor called “power distance” (the study examines many different factors that might affect ethical behavior). Power distance refers to the level of hierarchy in a given company or culture; a high power distance means that a large or rigid hierarchy exists and separates people at different levels in a company or society. This is where you will get to exercise your Critical Reasoning chops!

Okay, are you ready? Here you go: Are Top GMAT Scorers Less Ethical? Let us know what you think!

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