MBA ADMISSION CONSULTANTS MOST POINTED TO WHARTON FOR INCREASED GMAT EMPHASIS
Only last year, a Poets&Quants‘ survey found that the vast majority of MBA admissions consultants—65% of those responding to the poll—say they believe business school admission officials are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever. The consultants singled out three schools in particular where they believe the GMAT assumes increased importance in admission decisions: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Yale University’s School of Management, and Columbia Business School. Slightly more than half the respondents named Wharton for putting greater weight on GMATs in the past five years; a little more than a third named Yale while just a tad over 25% pointed to Columbia.
While the scores show they were right on the button with Wharton, they may very well have misjudged Yale and Columbia. Over the past five years, Yale has reported only a two-point rise in average GMATS to a record 721 last fall, though that average is up seven points since 2013. Columbia, meantime, is actually down a point in the past five years to 715, most likely due to the fact that the school offers less scholarship support than many of its peers.
Still, the general view is that GMATs are the single most important factor in MBA admissions. “We’ve seen the school averages rise significantly in the past fifteen years, in part driven by increasingly well-prepared test takers applying to the top b-schools, and in particular the ever higher scores coming out of China and India,” says Matt Symonds, a partner at Fortuna Admissions. “The demographics of GMAT test takers have shifted significantly in this time period, with US test takers now less than 50% of the overall. Higher GMAT scores are perceived to create a virtuous circle of school selectivity and positive impact in the U.S. News ranking. Word from the corner office can set a trend in motion–15 years ago the dean at Columbia wanted GMAT scores of admits to all start with a 7. The arrival of (Dean) Ted Snyder at Yale has coincided with a rise in their average GMAT (720) as he sets out to secure the school’s place in the world’s top 10.” Earlier this month, Yale jumped five places to rank eighth in U.S. News‘ 2016 ranking, catapulting over six of the world’s most prominent business schools to gain its highest ranking ever.
PITTSBURGH, TEMPLE & PENN STATE LEAD SCHOOLS WITH DECLINING AVERAGE GMAT SCORES
Declining GMATs can very well be an indication of a school falling behind in its ability to attract the best candidates to its MBA program, either because it lacks scholarship funds to compete for the best or simply chooses to invest its money in other ways. In the past three years, the biggest GMAT score declines among the Top 50 are at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business, which saw a 15-point decline to 607 last year from 622 in 2013 (five-year numbers were not available for analysis). Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia saw a 14-point drop over the same period to 632 from 646. Meantime, Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business lost 14 points off its average GMAT scores in the past five years, falling to a 636 average for the full-time MBA entering class last fall from 650 in 2011 (see below).
In all, 21 of the Top 50 schools reported GMAT declines, though 14 of them were at MBA programs ranked 26th through 50th by Poets&Quants. Wisconsin Business School in Madison showed an 11-point fall to 669 from 680 in the past five years, while both Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School and Ohio State University’s Fisher School each had 10-point declines, to 682 and 664, respectively. Only nine of the MBA programs ranked 26th through 50th reported improved average GMAT scores over the five-year period.
How do these numbers compare to the best European schools? INSEAD reports the highest average GMAT, a 703, ranging from a low of 600 to a high of 790 for its latest entering class. London Business School is not far behind with a 701. But most full-time MBA programs in Europe fall in the high 600s, with Oxford at 690, HEC-Paris at 682, and Cambridge at 680. IE Business School and IMD are at a GMAT average of 672, while IESE Business School has an average of 669.
Top 50 With Biggest Five-Year Decreases In GMAT Scores
|School||Five-Year Change||2015 Average GMAT||2011 Average GMAT|
|Penn State (Smeal)||-14||636||650|
|Ohio State (Fisher)||-10||664||6674|
|Notre Dame (Mendoza)||-10||682||692|
|Southern California (Marshall)||-8||679||687|
Source: Poets&Quants analysis from available GMAT data * An asterisk indicates a three-year decline