According to a recent GMAC press release, GMAT exam volume hit a record high for the 2012 testing year, with 286,529 GMAT tests taken and 831,337 scores sent to graduate level business and management programs. The new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section, which was introduced in June 2012, is partially responsible for increasing interest in the GMAT.
“2012 was a remarkable year,” said David Wilson, GMAC’s president and CEO. “GMAT testing rose from 2011 to 2012 in all world regions. The number of programs receiving GMAT scores rose to an all-time high. And we and our partners were able to scale our systems and delivery to individual test takers seamlessly to accommodate the high demand for the exam in the spring.”
“Business and management skills are needed more than ever in an ever increasing variety of organizations. Business schools have responded by offering a deeper portfolio of programs to meet these diverse needs,” Wilson continued. “The number of score reports sent to MBA and other programs were both up, but those to the specialized masters programs grew even faster.”
Highlights from the GMAC press release:
- The number of business programs receiving GMAT scores went up 22% since 2008 and 7% from 2011.
- MBA and EMBA programs received roughly 560,000 score reports, while the remaining 240,000 were sent to specialized management masters programs.
- The number of GMAT exams taken in countries outside of the U.S. rose 19%, representing 59% of the global GMAT volume.
- The number of exams taken by women hit a record for the third year in a row, making up 42.9% of test takers.
- U.S. citizens comprise the largest percentage of GMAT test takers, followed by Chinese test takers (58,196 people) and then Indian test takers (30,213 people).
- Chinese test takers, the second-largest citizenship group after the US, represented 20 percent of global testing. In 2012, the number of exams taken by Chinese citizens increased 45 percent to 58,196 exams.
- Indian citizens, the third-largest citizenship group, took 30,213 GMAT exams, a figure that increased 19 percent in 2012.
See the GMAC press release for more details.
These kinds of GMAT numbers would almost always portend a sharp increase in MBA application volume. However using GMAT volume as a leading indicator is less reliable than when there is a major change in the exam. The picture this year is murkier because of the introduction of the Integrated Reasoning section this past June. Many applicants and potential applicants rushed to take the exam before IR was going to be a mandatory part of the exam, and they definitely swelled the stats.
Also many of these reports are being sent to schools outside the United States, to one-year MBA programs, to EMBA programs, and to specialized masters programs. Applicants to U.S., two-year, full-time MBA programs, which suffered a decline in applications over the last few years, shouldn’t look at this data and assume that competition is going to soar. This year at least I don’t think you can take away much from these numbers other than overall interest in management education is healthy and well. How and when it will manifest itself remains to be seen.