GMAT avg soaring, GRE becomes an alternative

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, a demand for MBA programs have greatly increased, leading to soaring GMAT -Graduate Management Admission Test- scores. For example, for the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the average score of applicants reached 738 this year, compared to 733 from last year. Also, application to Indiana University Kelley School of Business’s MBA course in 2021 has increased 61% compared to application numbers in 2020.

This movement is quite different from what was happening in 2020. Due to the continuous drop of GMAT scores annually till 2020, colleges had to come up with diverse requirements of MBA entrances. Even though Covid-19 increased GMAT scores dramatically this year, there still exists movement to diversify MBA requirements.

The first example is that of Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Kelley School has been using both GMAT and GRE -Graduate Record Exam- as entrance examinations. Jim Holmen, a director of admissions said that the soaring GMAT scores does not mean that GMAT is gaining back its suitability as an entrance requirement. He also said, “We value both exams……. MBA candidates should choose the test they are most comfortable with — the test where they believe they can achieve the most competitive scores.”

NYU Stern School of Business also adopted new admission test options — LSAT, MCAT and DAT — this year. Furthermore, Stern School accepts Executive Assessment along with GMAT and GRE. This movement of abandoning standardized test requirement – GMAT – was also affected by 2020 Covid-19 crisis, which precluded application tests from being held as it has done before.

This favored many applicants with comparatively low GMAT scores. According to Stacy Blackman, an admission consultant in Los Angeles, “Applicants would be wise to consider alternative test options unless they have GMAT scores that are at or above average, unless their profile has true differentiating qualities.”

Georgetown McDonough School of Business in Washington, DC admits that although the average score of GMAT soared dramatically, 48% of the admitted students to 2021 MBA course had taken a GRE instead.

The trend of GMAT waiver can be seen at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business as well. Robinson College decided to eliminate every test requirement this year. Brian Jennings, an associate dean for graduate programs, said that “GMAT or GRE scores are not necessary to predict classroom success; the tests are a barrier to entry and perpetuate systemic inequities; and test performance is immaterial to the ultimate measure — career outcomes and market demand for our students.”

A GMAT waiver is foreseen to diversify the pool of MBA applicants in terms of demographic, industry, function, nationality, etc. With this aim, many colleges are adopting diverse options for MBA entrance requirement. However, not every college is jumping into this movement, some of them still relying on GMAT purely.


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