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Stanford B-School accepting GREs?!?!

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GMAT/MBA Expert

Stanford B-School accepting GREs?!?!

Post Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:11 pm
Stanford Smiles On GRE Scores
By Kerry Miller

Trying to widen its applicant pool, the university will now allow B-school hopefuls to skip the GMAT for a less costly exam.


Accepting GRE scores for all full-time MBA applicants is a novel idea that could have far-reaching implications. Admissions officers at other top schools like Wharton and Chicago will be watching closely to see how Stanford's decision, which starts with the admissions cycle for the class entering in the fall of 2007, will play out.

DESIRE FOR DIVERSITY. In recent years many B-schools have started waiving the GMAT requirements for applicants to executive MBA programs (see BusinessWeek.com, 8/8/05, "Sidestepping the GMAT"). And a few schools, like Harvard, have waived the GMAT requirement for their MBA programs entirely, out of concerns that the test cannot predict how well a candidate will succeed in B-school. (Harvard has since reinstated the GMAT requirement.) Most schools allow Business PhD candidates to submit either the GMAT or the GRE, and some waive the GMAT requirement for MBA applicants who already have advanced degrees.

Yet Stanford's decision is driven by different set of concerns-part of a larger discussion among B-schools about reducing barriers to admission for underrepresented minorities, women, and applicants from developing economies.

The lack of socioeconomic diversity in business school classes is a major problem, Bolton says, and reducing the upfront costs of applying to B-school is one way to make the admissions process more equitable, as well as to broaden the pool of applicants.

COVERING THE COSTS. The GMAT is one of the most expensive exams to take- it costs$250 worldwide, an amount Bolton notes can be a hardship, especially in developing nations, depending on the relative value of the U.S. dollar. While the price of the GRE is set to increase in July 2006-to $130 in the United States and U.S. territories, $175 in China, Korea, and Taiwan, and $160 in all other countries-it will remain less expensive than the GMAT. While a limited number of GRE fee waivers are available for U.S. citizens or residents eligible to receive financial aid, no fee waivers are available for the GMAT exam.

GMAC, which administers the GMAT exam, has tested several voucher programs, one in South Africa in 2004, and one at a number of U.S. schools in 2005. GMAC is still studying the outcomes of those programs.

Rod Garcia, director of admissions at (MIT Sloan School of Management], says his office is seriously considering the idea of accepting the GREs. For MIT, he says, the primary thought behind accepting the GRE would be to widen the applicant pool to include top nontraditional candidates, such as liberal arts majors, who may also be applying to several other graduate or doctoral programs.

"SLICE" SEARCH. Broadening the applicant pool is crucial, Bolton says, with the top schools already competing for the best applicants-in particular the best female and racial/ethnic minority students: "If you look at your applicant pool and you're missing a certain slice, then you go after that slice. We need to start thinking about making that whole pie bigger." Excluding applicants who might not have the financial resources to apply to a school like Stanford does a disservice not only to Stanford but to the business world at large, given the school's role in forming future leaders, he said.

The decision to accept either the GRE or the GMAT also seems to align well with the watchwords of Stanford's newly redesigned MBA program: customization and flexibility (see BusinessWeek.com, 6/6/06, "Stanford's New Look MBA"). Announced earlier this month, the new curriculum will tailor each student's course schedule individually, based on past education, work experience, and future goals.

It may also allow Stanford to admit more women and ethnic minorities like blacks and Latinos-who on average do not perform as well on the GMAT exam-without affecting their overall GMAT score, and therefore, their overall ranking by information sources such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report.

Other schools are taking a wait-and-see approach. Rose Martinelli, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago's (Graduate School of Business], says she is interested to see how Stanford fares with the new policy, but says Chicago will probably hold off until more research is done about the differences between what is measured by the GRE versus the GMAT.

AIMING TO ASSIST. Susan Kaplan, director of business school programs at Kaplan Test Prep, says that while the two tests have similar sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing), they focus on different types of questions, and the ability of the GRE to predict performance in business school has not been proven.

Accepting the GRE isn't the only way Stanford is trying to reduce the up-front costs of applying. Like several other schools, Stanford already offers waivers of its $235 application fee for college seniors receiving financial aid. Offering waivers to other applicants for whom the steep fees might be a deterrent has been trickier, Bolton says. "How do you screen? Do you set income limits? What if companies are paying the fees?"

One model might be the Fee Assistance Program offered by AAMC, which administers the MCAT exam for medical school entrance. That program grants assistance to MCAT test-takers whose total family income is 200% or less of the federal poverty level; eligible applicants pay $85, instead of $210. The University of Chicago also waives application fees automatically for applicants who have recently served in the military or the Teach for America program. Waivers for other applicants who demonstrate "extreme need" are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Bolton says his office is also discussing the idea of waiving fees for applicants from certain developing economies, starting next year. First, he says, his office would need to find a way to deal with the tremendous increase in applications that would result.

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Top Reply
Post Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:04 am
Great comments, tngearhart and technoguys!

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technoguys Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
11 Jul 2006
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Post Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:48 am
First of all, this is an incredibly useful forum. Thanks Eric for setting up this excellent site. I really admire the community spirit that you have inculcated this effort with & am sure a lot of GMAT aspirants will benefit from it.

I can appreciate both sides of the arguments here.

While I think GMAT really has a point since it (arguably) tries to evaluate an individual's ability to apply verbal & quantitative skills in a situation where not everything is cut & dry, it is true that $250 is a pretty penny for a lot of candidates (esp. if your national currency is not USD).

For someone in a developing nation, the GMAT fee itself could pretty much kill the idea of studying abroad. In a meritocracy (that a lot of B-schools are trying to nurture), it would be disappointing that capable students are not even able to apply due to such constraints.

I hope GMAC can probably come up with a geography sensitive pricing (similar to what the software (& occasionally entertainment) industry does). If the GMAT fee exceeds the per capita income (or other such economic criteria) of a nation, it needs to be reduced.

If you think about it, other than the commission paid to the testing center & the R&D (okay, granted & the human evaluation effort of AWA), the entire thing is just a software test. It is not like the variable cost of conducting a few additional tests is enormously high (but then again, it is really the business drivers rather than philanthropy that will predicate such decisions).

Kudos to Stanford for trying the road less traveled, & hopefully they will come up with some objective way to correlate GRE performance with MBA capabilities. Just my 2 cents worth...

I guess I was just practicing my AWA skills Wink


Thanks,

Tg

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GMAT/MBA Expert

Post Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:04 am
Great comments, tngearhart and technoguys!

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Sorin Istrate - Community Manager

MBA Watch - Your one-stop shop for all MBA program research

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