Current and past questions from the graduate admissions exam were illegally obtained by test takers and displayed on Web sites based in China and Korea, according to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the test.
The investigation found that the average verbal scores in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea had risen significantly. Test officials attribute the rise to the Web sites, which were written in Chinese and Korean.
"We looked at score changes in 40 countries and noticed a significant rise in only these countries," said Carole A. Beere, the chairwoman of the GRE board.
Only the paper version of the GRE General Test will be available in the four countries on the next two testing dates: Nov. 23, 2002, and March 15, 2003. The change is expected to affect more than 55,000 students each year.
ETS would not reveal when the answers were posted on the Internet nor when it noticed scores increasing.
"Every year we'd get someone from China who had high verbal scores on the GRE then had little or no knowledge of English when he got to the classroom," added Howard Lijestrand, graduate adviser at the University of Texas.
Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test, which monitors standardized testing, is pleased the computer version of test will be suspended in the four countries. But he said it is only a matter of time before U.S. applicants find out about the Web sites.
The GRE is taken annually by more than 400,000 applicants to graduate programs in the arts, humanities, sciences and engineering.