Call it a cliché: The 21st Century will be the Asian Age. As Pax Americana recedes amid squabbling, Asian nations are poised for an economic renaissance. After all, they account for over half of the world’s population. Combined, according to The Financial Times, Asian economies are now larger than the rest of the world. This growth isn’t just concentrated in China and India, which are projected to overtake the United States in GDP by 2030. Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have emerged as economic powerhouses alongside success stories like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
Explosive growth has boosted purchasing power, particularly among a burgeoning Asian middle class. That creates opportunities for marketers, financiers, supply chain whizzes, and entrepreneurs – the kind that requires a graduate business education to fully harness. And prospective business students in Asia are capitalizing on education. In the 2019 testing year, Asian candidates took the GMAT 119,174 times. Compare that to the rest of the world, which combined for 105,948 attempts. Take the United States out of the mix and that number tumbles to 42,003 GMAT tests!
NEW ZEALAND PRODUCES TOP GMAT SCORES
And it isn’t just quantity where Asian test-takers excel. In 2019, the mean GMAT worldwide was 565 globally. Among East and Southeast Asian citizens, that number reached 578. In Central and South Asia, the mean GMAT hit 572. To put those numbers in context, Western Europe’s mean was 568. In fact, the only region to best Asia was Australia and the Pacific at 616 (which, numerically, would account for less than 1% of Asia’s total test-takers).
Those are just a few of the GMAT numbers from testing year 2019 according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. The top mean score in the world? That belongs to New Zealand, which came in a 640 – the highest mean over the past five years. However, that number comes with a caveat: There were only 135 tests administered to New Zealand citizens. Not surprisingly, the lower number creates fluctuation. In the 2018 testing year, for example, Kiwis produced a 595 mean on 141 tests, down from the 602 and 623 mean scores in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
The 2019 testing year ran from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. According to the GMAC, Singapore notched the second-highest mean score in 2019 at 624. Unlike New Zealand, the number was derived from 946 GMAT tests. In fact, Singapore has made impressive progress over the past five years. In 2018, for example, test-takers produced a 618 mean on 1,022 tests – proof that last year’s numbers were hardly a fluke. In fact, Singapore’s mean GMATs have jumped 21 points in just the past five years. Translation: Singapore could soon overtake one-year wonder New Zealand atop the GMAT means. The same could be said for Australia. Like their Singapore counterparts, Aussie test-takers came away with a 603 mean on their 2014 GMATs. Fast forward to 2019 and Australia has climbed to 613 based off 664 tests (with the country boasting the highest mean – 620 – in 2017).
CHINA AND INDIA STUCK IN NEUTRAL
Obviously, the real story isn’t found in the South Pacific. No, it starts in China, which was responsible for 70,743 GMAT tests in 2019. In the process, China replaced the United States’ as the leading GMAT test-taker in 2019. China’s dominance didn’t stop there. Chinese test-takers scored a 581 mean, far better than the 558 reported in the United States. Still, the news isn’t all rosy for China. Notably, the country’s GMAT mean has fallen for the third consecutive year at a time when larger nations are churning out 5-10 improvements in the same span.
India follows a similar pattern. Responsible for 30,590 tests in 2019, Indian citizens scored a 578 mean – down from the 583 scores it racked up in 2018 and 2017. By the same token, South Korean means have fallen nine points to 581 over the past two years. Still, several Asian nations have picked up their performance in recent years. Japanese test-takers, for example, have boosted their GMAT means from 542 to 563 since 2014. Over the same period, Thailand’s mean has jumped from 498 to 521.
In Europe, Iceland is the top performer with a 610 mean. This number is based on a meager 26 tests, however. In reality, the United Kingdom is the big winner in Western Europe with a 601 mean (based off 1,483 tests). This represents an eight-point slide over the past two years (though a 10 point improvement since 2014). Overall, Germans took 3,728 tests in 2019, the largest number in the European Union. With a 578 mean, Germany ranked 15th in Europe, below nations like Belgium, Austria, and Poland. That was still better than France and Italy. Both countries generated over 2,500 GMAT tests. Still, their citizens earned humdrum 564 and 570 means. One country to watch: Spain. Here, GMAT means have risen from 582 to 599 over the past five years…including a 10-point surge over the past year. This was based on over 1,000 tests too.
U.S. MEAN RANKS 45TH
In 2019, Americans took the GMAT 63,945 times – down from 73,556 the year before. In this case, less turned out to be more, as the mean improved two points. In fact, American GMAT means have been on the upswing over the past five years, going from 536 to 558. That’s not to say that American test-takers don’t have a ways to go before they complete in the major leagues with the Chinese, Australians, Indians, and Brits (let alone meet the global 565 mean). The United States’ 558 mean ranks 8th in the Americas – and 45th in the world. That includes scoring lower than 26 European nations! Argentina delivered the highest mean in the Americas at 604 – a number based on a paltry 417 tests. Brazilians took 2,076 tests and yielded a 577 mean, a few points better than Canada’s 573 (which was formulated off 5,340 tests). Brazil and Canada have both seen their GMAT means improve by 11 points over the past five years.
Turkey is the undisputed GMAT king of the Middle East with a 577 mean – 30 points better than its nearest rival, Lebanon. In 2019, Israelis take the most tests in the region at 1,080. However, they only managed a 493, 30 points lower than Iran. In Africa, Mauritius produced the highest mean at 529, a number that springs from just 49 tests. At the same time, the score is a disappointment compared to the 581 mean it posted in 2014. Overall, Nigerians took the GMAT 1,108 times, though its 454 mean placed it 17th on the continent
In total, there were 225,621 GMAT tests taken during 2019, which GMAC defines as July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. This was down from the 242,714 taken in 2018. 56.2% of this gap came from a reduced number of tests taken in the United States.
How many prospective business students from your country took the GMAT in 2019? How did they score? How does that number compare to scores from 2014-2018? Click on the links below to see detailed historical stats for your country and region.