Seven of every ten business schools now give MBA applicants the option of submitting test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) instead of the GMAT, according to a survey of admission directors by Kaplan Test Prep published on Dec. 13. Kaplan said 69% of business schools now accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT, up from only 24% of business schools in 2009 when the test prep company began tracking the issue.
The survey showed that still more schools expect to accept the GRE. About 17% of the 31% of remaining holdouts told Kaplan they are likely to begin accepting the GRE for the next admissions cycle. That would bring the total number of schools that accept the GRE to 86% (see chart at right). Almost all the top 25 U.S. business schools, including Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, now accept the GRE. This fall the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business began accepting GRE scores, leaving U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School the only top ten MBA program that is an exception.
Kaplan found, however, that although more MBA programs are offering the GRE alternative to prospective students, a minority of applicants apparently are taking the option. Roughly half of the business schools surveyed (46%) say fewer than 1 in 10 applicants submitted a GRE score this past admissions cycle. About 44% said that 10% or more of their applicants are now providing a GRE score rather than a GMAT.
Source: Kaplan Test Prep survey of MBA admission officers
Use of the GRE in b-school admissions is still relatively new
One reason is that the gain in business school acceptance of the test is still relatively recent so there would understandably be a lag in its use. Another reasons, however, is that while the majority of business schools (69%) say scores from both tests are viewed equally, 29% say that applicants who submit a GMAT score have an advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score, according to Kaplan.
“As long as business schools signal the slightest advantage in taking the GMAT, it’s hard to see more applicants going the GRE route,” said Andrew Mitchell, Kaplan Test Prep’s director of pre-business programs. “Our advice to students: take the GMAT if you plan to apply only to business school, but if you’re unsure whether your path will take you to graduate school or business school, consider taking the GRE.”
Some MBA admission consultants, however, have advised clients who have had trouble with the GMAT to take the GRE instead. Schools, they reason, might be unwilling to accept a lower GMAT score due to sensitivity over some rankings, such as U.S. News & World Report, which include average GMAT scores to rank schools. But they may more readily accept a lower GRE because those scores are not included in business school rankings.
Only 3% of admissions officers say the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning is very important
Kaplan also found admission officers less than enthusiastic about GMAT’s new integrated reasoning (IR) section. Asked if they thought the addition of the IR section made the GMAT exam more reflective of the business school experience, 49% of the respondents said they weren’t sure and 10% said no. Some 41% of the admissions officers said yes. A still smaller percentage–36%–thought the IR section made the GMAT “more reflective of work in business and management after business school.”
Only 3% of the admission officers told Kaplan that the new section was “very important” in their evaluation of GMAT performance by applicants this year. Some 54% of the officers were undecided when they were polled earlier this year, while 24% said it was not very important or not at all important. About 19% of the responding admissions staffers thought it would be “somewhat important.” One thing holding back the full use of the IR section is the fact that only a relatively small percentage of this year’s applicant pool will have an IR score. That’s because applicants can submit GMAT scores that are up to five years old.
Kaplan said admissions officers from 265 MBA programs, including 17 of the top 25 programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, were polled by telephone in August and September this year.