As business schools cast a wider net for new students, the GRE test is helping them hook historians, philosophers and literature majors.
Hopeful M.B.A.s have long used the Graduate Management Admissions Test, an assessment of verbal, quantitative and analytical capabilities, to gain admission into B-school. But the GRE, which also measures verbal and quantitative reasoning, is gaining in popularity among applicants, according to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the test.
About one in five applicants to Yale School of Management this year submitted GRE scores, double the rate the school saw back in 2010, according to W. Bruce DelMonico, the school’s assistant dean and admissions director. And at University of Texas, Austin’s McCombs School of Business, 14% of full-time M.B.A. applicants submitted GRE scores this year, up from 10% for the class that started two years earlier and is graduating this spring. (A small number of applicants submit both scores, schools say.)
Until recently, applicants who were considering B-schools and other types of programs took both tests to satisfy admissions requirements. Now, with more than 1,100 business schools accepting the GRE, it’s easier for candidates to use the same score for all the programs they like. (In summer 2011, that count just topped 600 schools.)
Of the prospective M.B.A.s who took either entrance exam, nearly 10% sat for the GRE last year, according to new data from the ETS. And from last July through January 31 of this year, the number of GRE test-takers who indicated they planned to pursue an M.B.A. jumped 38% over the prior-year period.
Meanwhile, admission consulting firm Stacy Blackman Consulting found in a recent 675-person online survey that 7.7% of respondents were interested in the GRE, up from 4% last year, while the share planning to take the GMAT fell to 92.4% from 96.3%.
While the GMAT isn’t in danger of losing its top-dog status among aspiring M.B.A.s anytime soon, the shift reflects GMAT’s loosening stronghold on the industry and reveals applicants’ anxiety about that assessment’s “integrated reasoning” section,introduced in June 2012.
The GMAT still reigns at Columbia Business School, where between 9% and 10% have applied with GRE scores over the past two years, according to admissions director Robert Shea, and he expects them to remain in that range. Still, many schools are seeing 10% to 30% of their M.B.A. applicants providing GRE scores, according to ETS.
Business schools still don’t offer much guidance regarding GRE test performance. Most publish average GMAT scores of admitted applicants, but few provide average GRE scores for that group.
Without that data, applicants can’t be sure whether schools take the exam seriously, or whether their scores measure up, says Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mba Mission, an admission consulting firm.
“It’s maddening. You can say it until you’re blue in the face, and for whatever reason, some people will never believe that the GRE is equal [to the GMAT],” he says.