The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently released data showing that, while the total number of GMAT exams taken around the world has declined from the peak that occurred several years ago, the real story may be just how much more international the pool of GMAT takers has become. In the 2011 testing year (which ran from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011), 55% of GMATs were taken outside the United States, representing the heaviest proportion of non-U.S. activity in the history of the GMAT.
Interestingly, while China has seen tremendous growth in GMAT volume over the past five years, the number of GMAT exams taken in India actually declined for the second straight year. While more than 30,000 GMAT exams were taken in India in testing year 2009, in testing year 2011 that number dropped to a little more than 25,000, representing a 17.1% decline.
Adding to the story of increasing international diversity, all but one region (the Middle East) sent a lower proportion of its test scores to U.S.-based schools compared to five years ago. In Europe, China, and India, local schools seem to be gaining ground on international programs, as more applicants choose to pursue degrees closer to home.
Obviously, GMAC has some incentive to try to bury what some consider to be the headline (“Global GMAT Volume Declines Again!”) with stories about how robust GMAT growth is in certain regions. But the trend is clear: Schools on every continent should expect to see continued diversification in the pool of GMAT test takers, and U.S. schools can no longer assume that international applicants’ first choice is to study in America.