He Conquered The GMAT & Went To Jail For It

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

Lu Xu looks like the proverbial suburban guy next door -- but he has taken the GMAT more than 500 times

Lu Xu looks like the proverbial suburban guy next door — but he has taken the GMAT more than 500 times

If a Hollywood producer only knew his story, Lu Xu sincerely believes the narrative of his life would make a movie with the potential to be as big a blockbuster as “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Instead of pulling off a stock market scam, for several years Xu pulled the wool over the eyes of the people who administer the Graduate Management Admission Test, the de facto exam to get into a business school.

Call him “The Wolf of the GMAT.”

For at least two and one-half years of his life, he would saunter into test centers from Toronto to Miami with a fake passport or driver’s license and take the test for prospective MBA students. Sometimes, Xu would arrive in a bad wig and with a female name. Other times, he would impersonate his clients just by walking in exactly as he appears today, except a few years younger. His scores on behalf of others would typically reach 750 out of the highest possible score of 800, putting someone in the 98th percentile of all test takers in the world.


Ten years ago this July, Xu was indicted in a scam to defraud business schools. Along with four other men and a woman, he and his friends sat for a total of 590 exams from January of 2001 to July of 2003. On his own website under the title “GMAT Hero,” Xu acknowledges that New York State investigators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirm that he had taken the GMAT and the GRE 212 times in that two and one-half year period alone–roughly once every four or five days. Xu, however, had been taking the test for other people for nearly six years by the time he was caught.

After serving two years and eight months in prison, Xu says he has done what the Leonardo DiCaprio character Jordan Belfort did in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Instead of becoming a motivational speaker in sales, however, he has gone legit as a part-time GMAT teacher who tutors clients as a hobby out of his home in Flushing, N.Y.

“I was too intelligent for my own good before,” he concedes. “I truly believe that I was beyond good and evil. I was like a powerful and unstoppable machine…Now I am happy with my normal life. The only thing I want to do now is to help other people have an easy and happy life free from the suppression and torment by (the) GMAT.”


A Chinese-born GMAT whiz whose English name is Lewis, he thinks of himself as the world’s most accomplished GMAT test taker. This Thursday (Feb. 6) is the 60th anniversary of the test first given on Feb. 6 of 1954 to 1,291 potential graduate business students. Since then, the exam has been taken more than nine million times–but no one has sat for it more often than Xu who has zipped through the test more than 500 times.

“I am a hero of (the) GMAT,” he says in all seriousness. “I am a walking legend in (the) GMAT world. The test is part of my life. What happened to me can be made into a movie like ‘Catch Me If You Can’ or “The Wolf of Wall Street.’” He’s probably right.

What makes his story all the more extraordinary is that this GMAT guru is not merely a test junkie. He is a highly educated man who began taking the test for the intellectual challenge. He came to the U.S. in 1994 as a 24-year-old PhD student in biochemistry, During the course of his life, Xu has earned an MA, an MBA, and an MD. He worked as a chemistry teacher for City College in New York, as well as a research scientist in the molecular biology department at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

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Air Time - Comments
  • EPOC

    It is NOT designed to determine the potential success of the candidates within the program. It is more of a bar and widow process of rawer forms of intelligence.

  • hernandayoleary2

    Its pretty silly, American students and Canadians have to actually study for the test where chinese students buy the test the night before and work on it all night and get 7xx and look like a genius.

  • EPOC

    Fraud is rampant in the USA where many MBAs work. That is the least of it… many many people cite degrees they never earned.

  • EPOC

    Why would they pass out? There were no illnesses nor any excessive drinking referenced in this article

  • Journalism?

    Wow thank you. To me this being a fake story is the only thing that makes any sense. I mean, this is just too off-the-wall…. Basically every quoted statement in this article sounds like it came from the mouth of a legit insane person.

    “I truly believe that I was beyond good and evil. I was like a powerful, unstoppable machine…” In the context of an admissions test, this is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. Scratch that: in any context, this is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard.

    “What happened to me can be made into a movie like ‘Catch Me If You Can’ or ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.'” OK, pretty ludicrous, but then John follows that up with “He’s probably right”!!! John…. no. I’m not saying I wouldn’t give my life savings if I thought this movie could be made, because I would, but I am saying that to suggest that this farce bears any resemblance to “The Wolf of Wall Street” is an insult to criminals, movies, and wolves everywhere.

    His “website” takes the delusional rantings to the next level, so if you’re tipping your cap to this dude for snagging some free publicity, consider what is being promoted here for a second… My personal favorite was “I was given the power by heaven to know some, but not all, the exact questions in your future test” … I love the fact that he reeled it in a bit there by conceding that his heavenly powers do have limits. Gotta keep the layers happy, I suppose.

    And that article cover picture?!?! Whaaaat the f is that?? So many questions: why are you posing in a random part of your yard? why are you sharing the frame with a toyota corolla and a disinterested cat?

  • Bunny

    Anyone who did not know that what he was doing was illegal is a moron in my book.

  • Eric

    This is a great article – thanks!

  • GMAT Hero

    This is the worst article in the history of Poets and Quants. This guy did not “conquer” the GMAT. He committed fraud and did something that tens of thousands of people in the U.S. could do – score above 730 repeatedly on the exam. Consider that he took the exam so often that he would no doubt have seen questions over and over.

    It is EASY to go in and take the test yourself. Ask any tutor – they will tell you it is thousands of times harder to coach someone else to do it. This guy is not special and someone needs to let him know it.

    This a deplorable article that gives publicity to a cheat and a fraud.

    Terrible stuff. Looks like Poets and Quants is just another website that will write anything.

    Pitiful stuff Jon. Just pitiful. By the way, did he pay you for this “ad?”


    The way he writes on his website, too … Everything seems quite dubious — How could such a poor writer consistently be in the 99%?

    Goes to show that tests such as the GMAT measure passive intelligence, which is not a good indicator of the more important active intelligence …

  • Burcin Dizman

    I’m currently preparing to apply to some business schools in the US. I’ll take my first GMAT next week and it looks like I’m the only one around who thinks that this test is actually working in the applicant’s favor.
    Let me explain. I’m 32 years old – which means I received my undergraduate degree 10 long years ago. Unfortunately, 22 years old me was pre-occupied with other stuff during college and as a result of this I graduated with a pretty low GPA (2.5 out of 4). Later on, I started working for one of the biggest banks in my country and as I entered the business world, simply put, my vision expanded. While my career took off with the help of my interpersonal skills, I developed competencies that I did not know even existed in me and I became ambitious along the way. I was promoted in a short while and then moved to telecom sector etc but I don’t want to bore you with my CV. Cutting the long story short, although I have a seriously low undergrad GPA, I have very strong analytical & verbal skills and I’ve been very successful in the business life. Now, if the GPA was the only indicator of my potential for success in business schools, it would be misleading for the admissions committees. I have scored around 710 for multiple times in practice GMAT tests and I feel like the test is really good at evaluating one’s verbal and quantitative abilities. But most importantly, I feel like I have a chance to counterbalance my low GPA which is a result of some bad post-teenage decisions taken a decade ago. I have a chance to show the admissions committees that I’m better than that. And for all of this, I’m thankful to GMAT.

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