ETS Reports More Prospective MBA Applicants Taking the GRE

GMAT vs GREAs you and the students you advise probably know, the minds (if not the hearts) of aspiring business school students have long belonged to the GMAT, which has traditionally been the preferred (if not only) exam required to apply to MBA programs. But in the past decade, that began to change. ETS, the makers of the GRE, began an aggressive push to convince business schools to accept their exam as an alternative to the GMAT. They have been relatively successful in their efforts. When Kaplan first began tracking this trend in 2009, just about 25% of  business schools were accepting GRE scores instead of GMAT scores. Fast forward to 2013 when our research found that figure to be at around 70%. And yesterday, we received quantifiable data from ETS on the issue:

From an article in Poets & Quants on April 29, we have the following:

Nearly 10% of MBA-bound applicants during the past 2012-2013 testing year took the Graduate Record Examination instead of the dominant GMAT test, Educational Testing Service said today (April 29)…“In this time period, the number of GRE test takers indicating MBA as their intended degree rose dramatically, by 38 percent, compared to the same time period last year,” ETS said.

At least some of the growth can be attributed to the decision by several hold out business schools, including the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School and Georgetown University’s McDonough School, to finally accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT for classes that enter in the fall of 2014.

It’s actually been suggested by some that the GRE changed in 2011 to make itself more like the GMAT to make it more palatable to business schools. Guess what happened the following year. The GMAT added the Integrated Reasoning section to further differentiate itself. This wasn’t a coincidence.

Our take on this trend that we plan to continue to track: 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, the GRE may make a good alternative. The overwhelming number of MBA applicants are still submitting GMAT scores…and even those aspring MBAs who do take the GRE with the intent to apply to business school, may actually then decide to take the GMAT too.  Kaplan research also finds that even among schools who accept both exams, there’s a slight admissions advantage for the student who submits a GMAT score instead of a GRE score…so there’s that.