Though more business schools than ever are accepting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, a new survey of admissions officiers finds that the GMAT might still give applicants an edge at some schools.
Kaplan Test Prep found that 25% percent of admissions officers say applicants who submit a GMAT score have an admissions advantage over those who submit a GRE score, an increase from 18% in Kaplan’s 2014 survey. Only 2% say those who submit a GRE score have the advantage, a drop from 4% in 2014. For the majority 74%, neither has the advantage.
In recent years, as more and more schools have accepted the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, the bias in favor of the GMAT has waned. Admissions directors at some of the most prestigious schools, ranging from Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School to the Yale School of Management, have publicly stated they have no preference. So the fact that a quarter of the responding admissions officials privately conceded they still favor the GMAT is something of a surprise.
‘SOME SCHOOLS STILL RELUCTANT TO GIVE BOTH TEST EQUAL FOOTING’
“Even with the increased number of applicants submitting GRE scores, students need to understand that some schools are still reluctant to give both tests equal footing,” says Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “Our advice to students is to gather admissions intel and ask the business schools to which they will apply if there’s a preference one way or the other.”
The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT exam, could not have been more pleased with the survey finding. “We agree with Kaplan,” says Rich D’Amato, a spokesperson for the Graduate Management Admission Council. “The GMAT exam continues to provide applicants with an advantage and, as Kaplan seems to suggest, an increasing advantage when applying to a business or management program. Submitting a GMAT exam score demonstrates the seriousness a candidate brings to their application and shows their commitment to obtain a graduate management degree.”
At the same time, however, Kaplan’s new survey of 222 business schools across the United States and Great Britain also found that 90%–an all time high–allow applicants to submit a GRE score instead of a GMAT score, once the only admissions test option for business schools. This is a 5% increase over last year and a big jump from 2009, when Kaplan’s survey found only 24% of business schools allowed students to submit a GRE score. Additionally, 42% of admissions officers in 2015 reported an increase in the number of applicants submitting GRE scores, compared to 2014.
ACCEPTING GRE SCORES HELPS SCHOOLS ATTRACT MORE DIVERSE CANDIDATES
“Accepting GRE scores helps business schools attract a more diverse applicant pool because GRE test-takers are less likely to have traditional business backgrounds in fields like financial services, marketing, or consulting,” adds Carlidge of Kaplan.
In the latest testing year for which data is available ending June 30th, 2015, some 247,000 GMAT exams were taken, up from 243,000 a year earlier. Typically, 20% of those tests are taken by those who had already sat for the test and are trying to improve their scores. That percentage increased because since December of 2014 test takers could actually cancel their scores at the test centers if they were unsatisfied with them.
“We’re seeing more score cancellations, a drop in score sending (to schools), and a very high rate of retaking,” explains D’Amato. “People now go to take the test, see how they do, and decide whether to keep the score or cancel it. You now have people who are looking to gain comfort with the test. Behavior has changed.”
The Kaplan survey was conducted between August 2015 and September 2015 of admissions officers at 222 business schools in the United States (217) and United Kingdom (5). Among the 222 business schools are 20 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.