At one point in time, the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) was the de facto exam that students took to get into business school. But in 2006, the creators of the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), decided to sever ties with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), who up until that point had administered the exam. This move, which ended the non-compete clause that the GMAC held over the ETS, allowed the ETS to challenge the stranglehold that the GMAC had on business school testing.
Since 2006, the ETS has been campaigning schools to accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. According to a press release by the ETS, “About 450 MBA programs worldwide now accept the GRE test, including 45 percent of the U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 U.S. programs and seven of the top 10 global MBA programs according to The Financial Times.” These schools include some of the top-ranked business schools in the world, such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton at UPenn, Stern at NYU, and Sloan at MIT.
Additionally, the revised GRE is in part meant to make the exam more attractive to business schools. The ETS website states, “ETS has revised the test to better reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do in graduate or business school and improve your test-taking experience. New types of questions now more closely align with the skills you need to succeed in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs.” Removing analogies and antonyms, for instance, shifts the focus away from memorization and towards analysis and understanding.
It’s no surprise that more and more schools are starting to accept the GRE. The ETS estimates that there are approximately 700 GRE testing centers in 160 countries around the world; contrast this with a 2010 GMAC press release, which estimates that there are 500 testing centers in 110 countries. Schools that decide to accept the GRE can expand their applicant pools by making it more convenient for international applicants applying to US business schools in this era of globalization. Additionally, the move to accept the GRE is beneficial to students as well. Those who are trying to decide between going to graduate school and going to business school don’t have to choose one over the other or worry about taking two tests (and paying two registration fees) — they can simply take the GRE and apply to both. Test Masters recommends that prospective students take both tests and submit the higher score.
With the release of the new GRE and the momentum that the ETS has built up over the past several years, we can expect to see more and more business schools accepting the GRE for admissions. Of course, the GMAC is not simply twiddling its thumbs as the ETS courts its primary market — the GMAT is scheduled for a major facelift in 2013 to give the exam more business-specific content.
But who knows? By then, it may be too late.