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JANUARY 03, 2022
For over 60 years, the GMAT test has been an established part of the admissions process for top business and management schools. Over 2,100 top institutions participate in the exam process, including EDHEC.
The global pandemic caused many to review their admissions processes, and yet the return to in-person teaching has only renewed a common interest in high-quality, objective assessments for potential applicants.
Read on to find out what the GMAT test is, why it’s important, and how it will continue to be important throughout 2022.
The GMAT test was designed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) in order to create a standardised exam process for potential post-graduate candidates.
The exam provides admissions officers with an overarching snapshot of an applicant’s skills and abilities in both quantitative and qualitative reasoning. It is used by over 2,100 institutions and universities around the world.
The GMAT exam is oriented specifically towards admissions to top management and MBA programmes, making it the industry standard for business school standardised testing.
The GMAT test measures one's ability to assess higher-order reasoning skills. The in-person exam lasts just over three hours (including breaks), while the online version has shorter breaks, lasting around 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Official GMAT Score Reports are broken into five score sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning, Verbal, Quantitative, and overall score.
The GMAT provides numerical score outcome ranges from 200 to 800, with 200 being the lowest possible score and 800 being a perfect score. Worldwide, the median GMAT score is 568.
While not an end-all-be-all, GMAT scores are one of the most important tools in determining admissions into business schools.
Despite movements within academia to reduce the emphasis on testing scores, the GMAT remains a tried and true assessment tool of an applicant’s academic skills in today’s post-graduate admissions landscape.
Multiple studies conducted by GMAC have shown that GMAT scores are “an extremely accurate predictor of academic success in graduate management education programs.”
Widely available around the world, the GMAT is considered the industry standard for top business schools globally.
GMAT test scores also play an important part in overall university ranking. US News, a leader in modern college rankings, places over 15% weight in its overall business school ranking on GMAT scores alone, even after having reduced the weight of GMAT scores in 2018.
As business schools strive to move up key school rankings, they seek higher candidate scores which can potentially boost their placement. Nothing can guarantee admission into a programme, but a candidate with a high GMAT test score (generally considered over 730) has a significantly higher chance of being accepted and/or receiving scholarships. To reward excellence, EDHEC offers generous scholarships based on GMAT scores.
As with virtually all standardised testing models, the higher the score, the better.
That being said, an applicant’s test score percentile compared to the national average is less important than how it relates to a specific school’s scores.
As previously mentioned, business and management programmes are looking to raise their own GMAT test score averages. So a candidate with a score 30 points higher than a school’s average has a significantly higher chance of being admitted.
Demographics can play a large role in determining how an applicant’s GMAT score stands in respect to admission.
David White, a founding partner at MBA admissions consulting firm Menlo Coaching, writes:
“There are more applicants from some backgrounds than others – for example, American men in finance and consulting, or Indian men in the tech industry are over-represented, and Hispanic women and successful entrepreneurs are under-represented. Applicants from over-represented groups may need to score up to 30 (or more) points higher than the school's overall average to reach the average for their group. It's the opposite for under-represented groups."
A direct correlation can also be made between higher GMAT scores and higher starting salaries upon graduation. Examining 2019’s Top Business School Rankings, it’s clear that the higher the average GMAT test score, the higher the starting salaries of its graduates — regardless of where the school falls in the ranking.
For example, a graduate student from the Stanford Graduate School of Business has an average GMAT score of 737, and graduates with an average starting salary of $144,000 a year. A Michigan Ross business school graduate, on the other hand, with an average score of 716, earns an average of $125,000 a year.
2020 was a unique year for academic institutions, with movement restrictions and nation-wise closures causing access difficulties for the GMAT test. In response to the safety closures, GMAC launched its online version of the exam, making it one of the first standardised tests which can be taken completely from a personal computer.
Re-openings and the new online version of the GMAT caused numbers to jump back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, the GMAT class average grew at virtually all 26 top business schools. In fact, fifteen B-schools reported matching or setting school records, and the number of schools reporting an average of 700 points or greater increased from 15 to 18.
With the test-waivers long gone, new increased testing availability, and The Great Resignation causing many to change careers and go back to school, the increasing score trends will only continue to rise in 2022. The GMAT test will continue to be a vital part of the application process for competitive business schools for the foreseeable future