Only 16% Of Applicants Consider GRE

A large number of business school applicants apparently are unaware of the growing acceptance by schools of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as an alternative to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). That’s largely why only 16% of future business school applicants consider the GRE option, according to a new survey published today (April 25) by Kaplan Test Prep.

Of the 84% who said they never considered taking the GRE instead of the GMAT, 60% said the primary reason was because some or all of their target schools only accept the GMAT. “We believe that number may be inflated because of a lack of information,” said Lee Weiss, Kaplan’s director of graduate programs, in a statement.  “Many of them would be surprised to know that most, if not all of the business schools they plan on applying to accept the GRE, in addition to the GMAT.”

In recent years, the Educational Testing Service, has made a concerted effort to encourage applicants to take its GRE test for business school admissions. ETS has convinced most of the prestige schools to accept the GRE, including Harvard, Stanford, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan, and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. At Yale’s School of Management, roughly 10% of the applicants now take the GRE instead of the GMAT.

ETS also debuted a major revision of the exam last year to make it more appealing to business schools and business school applicants. And only yesterday, ETS announced that starting in July it will offer what it calls a “ScoreSelect option” that allows test takers decide which test scores to send to the institutions they designate (see “GRE Allows Test Takers To Send Only Best Scores To Schools”).

But as an alternative to the GMAT, the GRE is still somewhat new so general awareness about the test is probably lagging.

The Kaplan email survey, based on responses from 314 Kaplan GMAT students, also found that 19% said they didn’t consider the GRE option because they felt applicants who submit a GMAT score have an admissions advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score. Some 8% said it was because they thought they’d do better on the GMAT than on the GRE.

Despite the misconceptions in the marketplace, Kaplan’s Weiss is still recommending the GMAT for business school applicants. “It’s still a smart business school admissions strategy to take the GMAT if you are only applying to business school, and not considering applying to graduate school too,” he says. “According to a separate Kaplan survey of business school admissions officers, applicants who submit a GMAT score have a slight admissions advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score.”

That may not be true for all students, however. Some admission consultants have been urging their clients who would score below a school’s average to instead take the GRE. The reason: GRE scores are not reported by schools and not considered in rankings that use GMAT scores as a ranking metric, most prominently U.S. News & World Report. So it’s a way for a top business school to accept an applicant without harming its reported GMAT numbers to U.S. News.

Kaplan Test Prep said it believes an increasing number of business school will accept the GRE in the years to come, though applicants who submit a GMAT score may continue to hold an advantage, especially because the GMAT is adding an Integrated Reasoning section in June to reinforce its status as the best predictor of student success in business school.


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