GMAT Versus GRE: Which Top-50 MBA Programs Prefer Which Test? by: Marc Ethier on August 02, 2023 | 13,034 Views August 2, 2023 Copy Link Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Share on Reddit About 2,400 business schools around the world accept Graduate Management Admission Test scores for admission to MBA and various other programs, and around 1,300 accept the Graduate Record Exam; belonging to both groups are all of the leading B-schools in the United States. In raw numbers, more than 150,000 sat for the GMAT in the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council which administers it; and more than 340,000 took the GRE, with approximately 35,000 of those using to get into graduate business school, according to the nonprofit that oversees it, Educational Testing Service. Big numbers. Yet a Poets&Quants analysis of the submission rates for both tests at the top 50 B-schools in the U.S. finds that both sit at a crossroads — the GMAT after years of dwindling preferences among test-takers, and the GRE after a pandemic wave that has clearly crested. In the short term, the GMAT seems likely to remain the go-to entrance exam for graduate business education, and the GRE a viable alternative; but long term, as more and more business schools embrace “holistic” approaches to admissions and increasingly offer pathways to enrollment that don’t require any kind of standardized test, both the GMAT and the GRE could be on the way out. THE GRE STALLS Until recently, the GRE — an all-purpose graduate education test that can be used for admission to not only MBA programs but also law schools and other graduate study — had for years consistently gained on the GMAT in the measure that matters most: the percentage of MBA students who submitted the test for admission. Between the testing years of 2016-2017 and 2021-2022, the GRE nearly tripled its share of the business school market to 22.9% from 7.6%, even while the overall market shrank in size. The loss of share cost GMAC an estimated $3.7 million in revenue in 2021-2022 alone. At many of the most highly selective B-schools, MBA students enrolling with a GRE doubled or tripled over the same timeframe (see Average GRE Scores At The Top 50 U.S. Business Schools): At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, 30% of the students enrolled in fall 2022 submitted a GRE with their application, up from 10% in 2018; At Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, 33% of the latest cohort took the GRE, up from 18% five years ago; And at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, 45% enrolled with the GRE, up from only 11% in 2018. But beginning in 2021 and continuing last year, outside of schools at the very top of the rankings, the GRE stalled. While 21 of the top 50 schools saw year-to-year increases in GRE submission rates in 2022, the same number of schools saw declines — and the declines were much bigger than the gains (more on this below). For the first time in three years, no B-school reported as much as 50% of their MBA admits submitted GRE scores, according to the data collected by U.S. News for their annual ranking, while several B-schools reported that and more — 50%, 60%, even 70% or greater — in their GMAT submission rates. MBA PROGRAMS WITH THE HIGHEST GMAT SUBMISSION RATES 2023 P&Q Rank School % GMAT 2022 16 UCLA (Anderson) 77% 4 Northwestern (Kellogg) 76% 5 Harvard Business School 74% 2 Chicago (Booth) 73% 1 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 71% 24 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 69% 9 Dartmouth (Tuck) 68% 3 Stanford GSB 67% 20 Washington (Foster) 64% 48 Rutgers Business School 59% GRE RATES COLLAPSE IN BOTTOM HALF OF TOP 50 For a while it seemed the GRE was a cinch to catch the GMAT in MBA market share. It steadily gained ground through 2019, to the point that 32 of the top 50 U.S. B-schools that year reported 20% or more GRE submissions. When coronavirus hit, the GRE seemed poised to make even greater gains when ETS was first out of the gate with an online test, while the GMAT struggled with a clunky virtual version that left test-takers flustered. In 2020, the number of top-50 B-schools at 20% GRE submissions or more grew to 33; in 2021 it grew again to 34. But in 2022, the group of schools at 20% stayed flat at 34; and while schools with gains and declines were evenly split, the average decline was 9.3 percentage points, while the average increase was only about 5 points. The bottom half of the top 50 collectively saw a precipitous drop-off, bringing down the overall average percentage for the whole list by nearly 7 percentage points to around 27%. (See page 3 for a detailed table of this data.) The GMAT, meanwhile, boasts numbers that must make the folks at ETS envious. Among the top 10 schools, the average GMAT submission rate is 64.5%, led by Northwestern Kellogg’s 76%, with UC-Berkeley Haas in the caboose at 49%. Across the top 25, the average sinks to 54.7%, and it goes down to 45% across all of the top 50 (see page 2 for details), but that still outpaces the GRE by a mile. Eighteen schools are above 50% GMAT submission rate, nine above 60%, and five — UCLA Anderson, Kellogg, Harvard Business School, Chicago Booth, and Wharton — above 70%. Only 10 top-50 schools are below 30%. SEE MORE of P&Q’s coverage of the GMAT and GRE: Registration Date Announced For New GMAT Focus Edition — But Still No Test Date and GMAT Score Inflation: Now Nearly 20% Of Test Takers Are Scoring 700 Or Higher MBA PROGRAMS WITH THE HIGHEST GRE SUBMISSION RATES P&Q Rank School % GRE 2022 23 Washington (Olin) 47% 42 Florida (Hough) 46% 10 UC-Berkeley (Haas) 45% 40 Texas-Dallas (Jindal) 44% 18 Texas-Austin (McCombs) 40% 8 Yale SOM 39% 38 Texas A&M (Mays) 39% 9 Dartmouth (Tuck) 38% 36 Georgia (Terry) 38% 49 Utah (Eccles) 38% THE PREVALENCE OF WAIVERS THREATENS THE VIABILITY OF THE TESTS Some programs, like the Hough MBA program at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, explicitly state a preference for the GMAT over the GRE (especially interesting considering Hough has been among the leaders in GRE submission rates since 2019; see page 3 for details). In fact the GRE is the dominant exam among MBA admits at only nine of the top 50 B-schools, and only two in the top 25: Washington University’s Olin Business School and Georgetown McDonough School of Business. With both tests streamlining their online versions this year, the data from the 2022-2023 MBA application cycle will be worth examining. But the GMAT Focus edition and the new and sleeker GRE face their greatest headwinds in the form of increased opportunities to acquire a waiver. At only 13 of the top 50 schools (including nine of the top 10 schools) are waivers unavailable; 23 schools offer conditional waivers, including No. 6 MIT Sloan School of Management, and 14 schools outright do not require a test to apply, led by No. 16 Anderson School of Management at UCLA. (Unsurprisingly, the GMAT average at schools with no waiver is higher, at 57.8%, dropping to 41.3% at schools with conditional waivers and 39.1% at schools with no test requirement.) So what do these waivers entail? Some were first offered as relief for laid-off tech and other workers, and some remain as vestiges of coronavirus policy. Increasingly, however, waivers are being offered to anyone with the right bona fides — as one school describes it, for those with “significant work experience in a quantitative area,” which essentially means just about anyone who was going to apply anyway. Some schools require a supplemental essay in lieu of a test score and/or to qualify for a waiver, as part of their “holistic” approach to admissions. Whether you get the waiver — just as whether you get into the school itself — is up to the admissions committee. Even the schools that dangle the promise of a waiver urge applicants to take the GMAT or GRE anyway as a way to improve the strength of their application and their overall candidacy. See page 2 for a table showing the top 50 B-schools that offer waivers or don’t require a standardized test score for admission. MBA PROGRAMS WITH THE BIGGEST GRE SUBMISSION RATE DECLINES Y-O-Y P&Q Rank School % GRE 2022 % GRE 2021 2-Year Trend 29 Rice (Jones) 7% 35% -28% 20 Washington (Foster) 9% 36% -27% 23 Washington (Olin) 47% 70% -23% 35 Ohio State (Fisher) 23% 44% -21% 42 Florida (Hough) 46% 62% -16% 33 Penn State (Smeal) 22% 33% -11% 37 Boston University (Questrom) 18% 29% -11% 31 Arizona State (Carey) 37% 46% -9% 39 Wisconsin 21% 30% -9% 45 Michigan State (Broad) 5% 14% -9% HOW TO GET A WAIVER Some examples of waiver policy: At UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, “Our holistic application process is built to ensure that you’re prepared for our rigorous Full-Time MBA program. While scores from standardized tests such as the GMAT or GRE are a beneficial way for our Admissions Committee to evaluate the likelihood of academic success in our Full-Time MBA program, we recognize that some candidates can build a strong case for admission based on but not limited to the following criteria: Applicants who graduated with a 3.2 GPA or above and coursework in STEM, business, economics or analytical fields from a U.S. institution Earned an advanced or terminal degree in JD, MD or a PhD or MS degree within a STEM, business or economics academic field 5+ years of professional experience in a quantitative or analytical field Hold a CFA or U.S. CPA professional certificate Strong test results from the Executive Assessment, LSAT, PCAT or MCAT” At Texas McCombs School of Business, “To be considered for a test waiver, an applicant must have a minimum of three years of substantive and progressing post-undergraduate work experience, preferably of an analytical or quantitative nature, and at least one of the following: Completion of an undergraduate degree, with strong academic record, preferably with analytical or quantitative courses. Completion of a graduate degree, with strong academic record, preferably in an analytical or quantitative discipline.” At Indiana Kelley School of Business, “The Kelley School’s Full-Time MBA program admits high-potential applicants into our academically rigorous curriculum. We typically require the GMAT or GRE as one demonstration of quantitative and analytic capability. In light of the recent challenges associated with taking standardized tests, candidates may apply for a waiver of this requirement and submit other evidence of their academic qualifications. We expect to award a limited number of waivers to candidates with otherwise strong qualifications. “In evaluating waiver requests, we consider many factors, including rigor and achievement from previous undergraduate and graduate degrees, evidence of work experience requiring analytical and quantitative skills, and post–bachelor’s degree career growth including demonstration of leadership. “To request a GMAT/GRE waiver, you must complete the following two steps: Complete and submit our online information request form (to ensure that we have your most current contact information); and Submit via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) a current professional resume, your unofficial or official undergraduate transcripts (and graduate school transcripts, if applicable), and a brief statement (300 words or less) summarizing why you believe you qualify for a waiver. “You should receive a response to your request within one week of submission.” 21 TOP-50 SCHOOLS SEE GRE SUBMISSION DROPOFFS, AND 21 SEE INCREASES In 2022, according to U.S. News data, submission rates of GRE scores dropped at 21 of P&Q‘s top 50 business schools, mostly at the lower 25 schools (though two top-25 B-schools saw double-digit declines). That’s similar to the year-to-year decline seen at the top 50 schools the year before. Leading the way with huge drop-offs in GRE submissions: Rice University, whose Jones Graduate School of Business saw a 28-percentage-point decline to just 7% last year. See table above. While 21 top-50 B-schools in the U.S. reported drop-offs in GRE submissions by MBA candidates from the previous year, 21 reported increases, mostly in the upper tier. However the average decline was 9.3 percentage points, while the average increase was only about 5 points. At the top 25 schools, the average submission rate was 30.6%, up from 28.5% in 2021, led by Georgetown McDonough School of Business’s 49% (up a percent from the year before, though down from a school-high of 54% in 2020). The average rate at the lower 25 was just 23.8%, bringing down the overall top 50 average to 27% — a huge decline from 33.6% the year before. The average submission rate for eight schools in the top 10 was 34.1%. Overall, 23 schools were above 25% GRE submission rates in 2022, down from 26 in 2021. Fourteen schools were above 35%, exactly the same as the previous year, and four were above 45% — also the same. But none were above 50%, whereas in 2021 there were two and in 2020 there were four. See the table on page 3 for school-by-school details on GRE submission rates. See the next pages for GMAT and GRE score submission rates at the top 50 U.S. B-schools. Continue ReadingPage 1 of 3 1 2 3 Comments or questions about this article? Email us.