You’ll Never Guess Which Country Beat The GMAT

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If the Guinness Book of Records tracked GMAT scores around the world, which country could lay claim to the highest average scores? Believe it or not, Bermuda is the country that beat the GMAT.

For the latest 2016 testing year, ended June 30th, Bermuda test takers averaged 639, a remarkable 142-point improvement from the average score in the country five years ago in 2012 when the mean score was just 498. That stratospheric GMAT score was 81 points above the 558 overall average score on the test this year. But there’s a catch: Only seven tests were taken in Bermuda this year.

Still, only five countries in the world could boast average GMAT scores above 600 this year. After Bermuda, it was New Zealand (624), Singapore (615), Australia (612), and Argentina (607). Several other countries came close, including the United Kingdom (598), Belgium (596), and Poland (595) (see table on following page for a country-by-country report).

AVERAGE GMAT SCORES FELL IN BOTH CHINA & INDIA IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS

The U.S., where the most GMAT exams are taken, trails the majority of countries in the world in average GMAT scoring. This year, U.S. test takers scored an average 547 and that was up 14 points from five years ago. Prospective business school students taking the GMAT in both China and India, two of the countries sending more candidates into the MBA applicant pool, saw their average scores decline over the past five years. In China, where 70,744 tests were taken in 2016, the average fell to 581 from 588 in 2012. In India, where 33,123 tests were sat for, the mean GMAT declined five points to 577.

The GMAT results are in a newly released report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, the administrator of the test. The study, called a Profile of GMAT Testing: Citizenship, shows that nearly 1.3 million Graduate Management Admission Test exams have been taken over the past five years by prospective business school students. The report tracks GMAT volumes by country over a five-year timeframe, along with mean scores for men, women and overall. It also notes the percentage of test takers who intend to apply to either an MBA program or a specialized master’s degree in business.

A total of 261,248 GMAT exams were taken by test takers around the world in testing year 2016, which ran from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. That was an increase over the year-earlier period when 247,432 tests were taken but below the 286,526 test level in 2012. GMAC said that this year’s examinees sent a total of 561,866 score reports to graduate-level management programs across the globe, down from 600,415 reports in 2015 and 687,976 in 2014. The decline in score reports was attributed to an increasing number of test takers canceling their scores (see One In Four GMAT Test Takers Now Cancel Scores).

SAUDI ARABIA AMONG THE LOWEST SCORING GMAT COUNTRIES

Which country scores the lowest average GMAT? Even though the GMAT exam was taken 1,936 times in Saudi Arabia this year, the mean scores for test takers in that country were among the lowest ever recorded: 299, roughly the third percentile of all GMAT candidates. In other words, 73% of all test takers scored higher. Two other countries were at the bottom: Papua New Guinea at 236 and Liberia at 264, but only five and 22 tests were taken, respectively, in those two nations.

All told, 13 countries had average scores below 400, including Kuwait (358), Iraq (394), the United Arab Emirates (389), and Yemen (388).

Average scores tend to go up and down over time. Among the countries recording the largest double-digit increases over the past five years were Poland (+41), South Africa and New Zealand (+40), Peru +36), Brazil (+28), Mexico (+22), Lebanon (+21), Vietnam and Singapore (+20). Countries that saw double-digit falls in average GMATs in the past five years include the Netherlands (-18), and Egypt (-14).

  • Bakiks

    I wonder how the Philippines fair in this ranking…

  • Lol

    Lol the target audience more likely didn’t read every word and skimmed the whole article >.<

  • what

    “Saudi Arabia this year, the mean scores for test takers in that country were among the lowest ever recorded: 299, roughly the third percentile of all GMAT candidates. In other words, 73% of all test takers scored higher.”

    What!? A score of ~300 means that roughly 97% of test takers scored higher

  • That is true. GMAC does not disclose the number of test takers but only the number of tests taken.

  • Thanks for catching our error. It’s fixed now.

  • The 5 year change for Israel was +10 points and not -10 points (increase and not decrease). The error appears both in the table and in the article itself.

  • The most important and interesting piece of data is missing: how many test-takers are there? what we actualy see here is the number of exams taken, not actual test-takers, and this could heavily distort other data as well (i.e mean scores)

  • C. Taylor

    Thanks!

    It is truly impressive that around 40-50% of all the scores Chinese sent to MBA programs are in the middle 80% range for outstanding programs such as Duke and NYU.

  • Great analysis there. Thanks!

  • C. Taylor

    The scores sent section was most interesting.

    1: The region with the highest scores sent was Western Europe. This lends support to the self selection hypothesis for candidates applying to international programs.
    2: While those in the US and China sat roughly the same number of exams, the number of US scores sent was roughly double the number of Chinese scores sent–leading to a significant difference in the mean score sent to MBA programs; 638 for China and 585 for the US. This suggests Chinese either find other options more attractive than MBA programs and or are sitting more exams to up their scores. Not surprising considering how many Chinese apply for the handful of slots available to them at top programs.