Indians Sending Fewer GMAT Scores To U.S.

Despite a 19% increase in GMAT test takers in India last year, the percentage sending their test scores to U.S. schools plunged by 13 points to 51% from 64% five years ago.

In the testing year ended June 30, 2012, the 30,213 Indian citizens who took the GMAT sent 133,000 scores in total globally. About 68,000 of those scores were sent to U.S. schools. Year-over-year, that reflected a slight increase from 62,000 in testing year 2011.

The decline over the past five years in the third largest GMAT market in the world, reflects two big trends: 1) the difficulty Indian applicants have in getting into top U.S. MBA programs where they are considered overrepresented in the applicant pool, and 2) the rise of quality alternative programs at newer schools in India and elsewhere.

As reported earlier by Poets&Quants, applicants from both India and China face significant hurdles in gaining acceptance to many U.S. MBA programs because admission officials have been overwhelmed by the number of applicants from those two countries in recent years. As a result, they are facing rejection rates that are four to five times higher than those for U.S. citizens (see Indian & Chinese MBA Applicants Face Much Higher Rejection Rates).

An internal admissions report obtained by Poets&Quants from a top ten business school found that 22% of its applicants last year were from India. The acceptance rate for those candidates, however, was only 8%, compared to a 39% acceptance rate for U.S. citizens—nearly five times greater. The GMAT data suggests that many would be Indian applicants have been discouraged from applying to U.S. schools.

The most significant beneficiaries were business schools in India, Singapore, France, and the United Kingdom. Schools in India, for example, received 18% of the scores from domestic test takers, up from 13.5% four years ago in the testing year 2008.

Domestic test takers in India sent their scores to 128 different programs last year, up from just 24 in testing year 2007—a reflection of the number of new business schools that have emerged in India along with the growing number of people interested in getting MBA degrees. Estimates of the number of business schools in India range as high as 2,400, with roughly 2,000 having gained approval by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Indians also showed increasing interest in programs in Singapore and Europe. They sent 7.5% of their scores to MBA programs in Singapore, up from 4.5%, while France was up to 5% from 3.5%. Business schools in the U.K. were up a percentage point to 8% from 7%.

The numbers apparently were released by an official of the Graduate Management Admission Council in South Asia to the Hindustan Times in West India. “People’s choices are becoming more sophisticated now as they are looking for choices at all continents,” Ashish Bhardwaj, GMAC regional director, South Asia, told the newspaper. A GMAC spokesperson said more detailed regional breakdowns will be available in January.

The Hindustan Times reported that popular schools outside the U.S. include the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, INSEAD and HEC Paris in France, and London Business School in the U.K..

“The U.S. is among the costliest, so it is a question of return on investment,” the newspaper quoted Abbasali Gabula, deputy director, external relations and administration, at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research in Andheri. “With the current jobs scene it doesn’t make sense to go to countries where the post-MBA situation isn’t good.”


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