GMAT Testing Hits Several New Records

by on February 28th, 2013

To paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous maxim, reports of the death of business schools have been greatly exaggerated.

GMAT testing hit a record 286,529 exams taken last year, the greatest annual total ever with an 11% increase over the previous year and a 16% rise from 2008.

What’s more, each of the 10 world testing regions experienced growth in prospective business school students taking the GMAT exam in testing year 2012 for the five-year period. Six regions also recorded five-year testing highs, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Source: GMAT 2012 World Geographic Trend Report

As expected, much of the growth occurred outside the U.S., especially in Asia. Exams taken by U.S. citizens represented 41% of global exams taken in testing year 2012, down from 51% in 2008. The upshot: GMAT testing outside of the United States continued to grow quickly, with tests taken by non-U.S. citizens rising 19% over 2011, accounting for 59% of global GMAT volume.

The numbers are from a trio of student mobility trend reports published on Feb. 27 by GMAC. The administrator of the GMAT exam said the reports showed that graduate management education is becoming more global and more diverse, as a broader range of global applicants are sending their GMAT scores to different types of programs in different parts of the world.

Source: GMAT 2012 World Geographic Trend Report

“Test takers today have an increasing number of study opportunities with quality schools emerging all across the world, and more types of graduate level programs to consider,” said Alex Chisholm, GMAC director of statistical analysis, in a statement. “Test takers sent scores to a record 5,281 programs in 2012, up 21% from 2008, reflecting growing interest in a variety of programs and study destinations.”

A new record for GMAT exams set in testing year 2012

A record 286,529 GMAT exams were administered in testing year 2012 (ending June 30, 2012), with 831,337 score reports sent to MBA and other types of graduate management programs, according to the GMAC World Geographic Trend Report, which is being released along with the European Geographic Trend Report and the Asian Geographic Trend Report.

The record volume partially reflects ia scramble by testtakers to avoid a new integrated reasoning section that debuted in early June of 2012. Historically, test volume rises just before changes are made to a standardized exam as test takers opt for a familiar format at the transition.

Other major trends:

  • The percentage of exams taken by women hit 43% in 2012—a record for the third straight year. Women made up the majority of test takers for citizen groups in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Russia.
  • More younger people are taking the exam, as the percentage of tests taken by those younger than 25 was 47% in 2012, up from 38% in 2008. More than half the Asian and European citizens taking the GMAT exam were under 25.
  • With 58,196 exams taken in 2012, Chinese test takers are the second-largest citizenship group after the U.S. and now represent 20% of global testing.  The proportion of scores Chinese citizens sent to the U.S. was up slightly (78% in 2012, compared with 77% in 2008) as their interest in specialized master’s programs has increased — from 43% of scores sent in 2008 to 64% in 2012.
  • Indian citizens, the third-largest citizenship group, took 30,213 GMAT exams in 2012, and test takers are sending a higher percentage of scores to programs in India, the United Kingdom, Singapore, France and Canada.
  • European citizens sat for 24,847 GMAT exams in 2012, up 26% from 2008, and they sent more than 60% of their scores to programs in Europe, the highest level ever. Citizens of Germany, France, Russia, Italy and the UK together sat for more than half the region’s exams in 2012.
  • More test takers are sending their GMAT scores to specialized master’s degrees in business, such as master of accountancy, finance and management. In 2012, 29% of all scores were sent to specialized masters programs, up from 17% in 2008.
  • The percentage of U.S. test takers sending their scores to U.S. schools remains a world-leading 98%. The U.S. remains the top score-sending destination, with 76 percent of more than 831,000 score reports sent to business schools in the U.S.Significant regional differences exist in terms of GMAT score-sending behavior. For example, citizens from Central & South Asia sent an average of 4.3 score reports per exam taken in TY 2012. In contrast, Western Europeans sent only 2.1 score reports on average.
  • Central and South Asian test takers sent score reports to the most schools, about 4.3. That compared with 2.9 worldwide and in the U.S. (See table below).

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Source: GMAT 2012 World Geographic Trend Report

The United States remains the leading score-sending destination for GMAT examinees. US-based graduate business programs received 630,406 score reports in testing year 2012 or 76% of total scores sent. Although the number of scores sent to the United States was significantly higher in TY 2012 than when compared with 2008, the market share for US schools declined from 81% to 76% over the period. GMAC attributed the decline to several factors, including greater usage of the GMAT exams for admissions by high-quality graduate management programs around the world. The United Kingdom and Canada were the second and third preferred score-sending destinations in both years. Israel fell off the top 10 destination list in 2012, replaced by Germany.

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Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 8.43.28 PM

The number of GMAT exams taken by US citizens stabilized in 201, according to the GMAC report. Testing peaked in testing year 2009 during the depths of the economic downturn and has since returned to more normal levels. Between 2008 and 2012, the share of exams taken by women decreased slightly to 39%, while the age distribution was largely unchanged. US citizens sent 98% of their score reports to domestic programs in 2012, essentially the same level seen in 2008.

Due to the significant total number of scores sent, however, the two% that did leave the country represented nearly 7,000 score reports. The majority of these scores were directed to study opportunities in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Canada. By 2012, Hong Kong moved to the sixth most popular study destination and Germany appeared for the first time on the list.

The proportion of GMAT score reports sent by US citizens to MBA programs has remained constant at 81% since 2010. This level is high when compared with many world regions, GMAC said.

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Source: GMAC 2012 World Geographic Trends Report

Meantime, GMAT testing among citizens of East and Southeast Asia witnessed its largest one-year growth ever in 2012. A total of 77,795 exams, an increase of more than 20,000 exams, or 35% compared with 2011. Chinese citizens accounted for 75% of regional exam- inees in 2012, the greatest share ever. Chinese prospects have helped raise the regional share of women (59%) and those younger than 25 (67%) to the highest levels of any world region.

Due to China’s growing size in the pipeline regional score-sending preferences increasingly reflect those of Chinese citizens. Of the 212,667 GMAT score reports sent by regional examinees in 2012, 77% were directed toward US schools; down slightly from 79% in 2008. In 2012, programs in Hong Kong moved into the second position for the first time and captured five% of score reports sent. Over the five-year period, programs in Canada also saw large gains in score reports received by East and Southeast Asian examinees.

Between 2008 and 2011, GMAC said there was a strong shift toward specialized master’s programs for citizens of East and Southeast Asia. This trend stabilized last year as the share of scores sent to MBA and non-MBA programs held relatively steady. Of all world regions, East and Southeast Asians sent the lowest proportion of scores to MBA programs (41%) in 2012.

The United States and Hong Kong were the top two score-sending destinations for all regional subgroups in TY 2012 except for those aged 31 and older, who made Singapore the second most preferred destination. Examinees younger than 25 sent the greatest share of score reports to the United States (80%).
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Source: GMAC 2012 World Geographic Trends Report

Western European citizens sat for a record high 18,868 GMAT exams in 2012, narrowly surpassing the mark set the previous year. Although the share of exams taken by women grew from 31 percent to 33% over the five-year period, the level remains low globally. In contrast, the proportion of exams taken by individuals younger than 25 grew sig- nificantly, increasing from 40 percent in 2008 to 53% in 2012. Only East and Southeast Asia (67%) recorded a higher level in 2012.

Western European examinees sent 28 percent of their GMAT score reports to US programs last year, down from 40% in 2008. This decrease was balanced by growing interest in regional programs. Schools in France received 16% of scores sent by regional examinees in 2012, surpassing the United Kingdom as the leading European destination for Western European examinees. Germany, moving from ninth to fourth on the top 10 list, experienced the greatest gains as a score-sending destination.

Examinees from Western Europe sent just half (51%) of their score reports to MBA programs in 2012, down from 74% in 2008. Only citizens from East and Southeast Asia sent a smaller share (41%) to MBA programs. Over the five-year period studied, the share of score reports Western Europeans sent to non-MBA master’s programs nearly doubled, from 24 percent to 46%.

Western European men and examinees aged
25 to 30 sent the greatest number of score
reports per exam taken and were also the
most likely to send score reports to US
business programs in 2012. GMAC said examinees
younger than 25 were the least likely to send
scores to the United States (17%) and were
the only subgroup that did not have the United States as the leading score-sending destination, instead preferring France.

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