Rising Costs Of An MBA Impacting School Choice For Applicants

A Harvard MBA in the Class of 2016 at graduation this year (YouTube photo)

A Harvard MBA in the Class of 2016 at graduation this year (YouTube photo)

The majority of respondents (61%), meantime, named standardized tests as the most challenging part of an MBA application, followed by written essays (46%), and interviews (20%). Only 19% of applicants said that recorded video responses, first pioneered by the Rotman School and now used by both Kellogg and Yale, and group exercises, a staple of Wharton’s process, were especially challenging. Nearly half of the responding applicants (49%) said the video essay represented them “well” or “extremely well,” although survey comments revealed concerns by some applicants regarding technological difficulties in remote overseas locations (see table below).

AIGAC 2016 MBA applicant survey

AIGAC 2016 MBA applicant survey

Applicants tended to rate the video portion of an MBA application as less challenging than the GMAT or essays. More than half the applicants to the Kellogg School, for example, believed the required essays (52%) and either the GMAT or GRE (51%) were tougher than the video test (35%) (see below table).

“The biggest surprise for all of us was the take by applicants on the video responses,” says Shrum. “For people who have been in this space for a long time, these seem like a big deal. but so far the data is telling us they are going down pretty well. People are still stressed by exams and essays, but not very much by these new components. In an essay, you can do a million drafts. But in a video response you have two or three shots and you are done.”

Source: AIGAC 2016 MBA applicant survey

Source: AIGAC 2016 MBA applicant survey

Regardless, the GMAT remains the the most popular test to apply to business school, with 89% of applicants saying they submitted a GMAT score and only 7% of applicants saying they submitted a GRE score in 2016. The high percentage of international and male respondents (65%) likely had an impact on the survey’s results in favor of the GMAT, however. AIGAC said survey participants indicated that they took the GRE primarily because they were applying to multiple types of graduate programs or because they already took the GRE before applying to business school. Nearly a quarter of respondents, however, said it was because they struggled with the GMAT.