Who’s Taking the GMAT: Region by Region


America may be a melting pot, but the ingredients vary significantly from region to region. Now, everybody knows people in L.A. wash their cars a lot, even when their fellow drought-stricken Californians are spray painting their lawns green and licking the dew off cacti. What’s far less known about L.A. is that a third of all its residents considering business school want to end up in the products-and-services sector.

That’s one of many data points in a new region-by-region report on who’s taking the GMAT, by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test. The report covers test taking from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. During that period, 258,084 GMATs were taken in the U.S.

Overall in the U.S., 42% of GMAT takers were considering a full-time, two-year MBA; 41% were considering a part-time MBA; 32% were considering a full-time, one-year MBA; 25% were considering a flexible MBA; and 21% were considering an online MBA.


To finance their studies, 27% of U.S. test takers planned to use loans; 22% planned to use personal earnings and savings; 19% counted on employer support; 16% planned to use grants; 11% planned to hit up mom and dad; and 2% planned to use earnings of a spouse or partner.

Striking regional differences emerge with GMAC’s breakdown of 10 U.S. metropolitan areas and three Asian countries – by gender, age, current industry, and planned industry.

Consider Miami: it’s well known that everyone down there carries around softball-sized dogs and feeds them to alligators if they poop in the living room. But did you know Miami has by far the youngest GMAT takers? More than half – 54% – are under 25. Runner-up New York City isn’t even close, at 40%.

Seattle – where the heavily bearded men and women don’t even wait to have coffee before hitting the bong – greatly outstrips all other regions of the country when it comes to would-be business school students intent on careers in manufacturing. Eleven per cent of GMAT takers aim for that sector, with San Jose and L.A. far behind at 7%.


In the San Jose region encompassing Silicon Valley – where every Prius is sold with an Obama sticker already affixed to the paint – the percentage of people under 25 taking the GMAT is the lowest in the country, at 24%.

About the only metric that doesn’t vary considerably from region to region in the U.S. is the proportion of men to women among GMAT takers. Every area is within two points of a 60:40 ratio of males to females.

However, head across the Pacific to China and that proportion is flipped on its head: 66% of GMAT takers are female. Fifty-eight per cent of test takers in China wish to study in the U.S. And China has a far higher percentage of under-25 GMAT takers, with 83% in that age group, greatly surpassing even Miami. Taiwan, too, has a higher share of women than men taking the test, with 59% female.