He Conquered The GMAT & Went To Jail For It

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by John A. Byrne on

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.

‘I WAS TOO INTELLIGENT FOR MY OWN GOOD’

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.”

 AS THE GMAT TEST CELEBRATES ITS 60TH ANNIVERSARY, NO ONE HAS TAKEN IT MORE TIMES THAN XU

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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  • where is justice

    Am I the only one who is slightly nauseous reading this? So let me get this straight. Unscrupulous cheaters paid another unscrupulous man (Lewis Xu) who allegedly “conquered the GMAT.”

    Lewis gets caught and taken to jail. But the cheaters who paid for his services are not brought to justice. They graduate from their respective illustrious MBA school (HBS, or Stanford, or Wharton etc) and go on to achieve various career goals.

    What is to keep Lewis from extorting his past clients to pay an annual fee, to ensure his silence in NOT writing a book, or publish an article with their names on it? Hmmm?

    Somewhere along the lines, GMAC failed, the justice system failed… and most certainly…. someone like this man (Lewis Xu) deserves no more recognition than a piece of lint on a filter found on a drying machine.

    Why is there a link to his website? I applaud innovation, and inventiveness. The fact that he is hails as “conquering” the gmat is sorely inappropriately titled.

    How the hell did he even get past immigration and admitted to this country. blech.

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