U.S. GMAT test-takers are performing poorly compared to test-takers from Asia-Pacific reports a recent Wall Street Journal article. In response to this growing performance gap, adcom at U.S. schools are seeking to implement new evaluation metrics to make domestic students appear better.
Here’s an example of how things have changed: For the quant section, in 2004, a raw score of 48 would put the student in the 86th percentile; today, that same score would yield a ranking in the 74th percentile. More students (outside the U.S.) are scoring higher – especially in the quant section – making it a lot harder for U.S. test takers (whose raw scores have remained relatively flat) to hit those higher percentages. That is, their test scores haven’t changed, but their percentile rankings are falling.
Here are some additional stats from the WSJ article:
• Currently, Asia-Pacific citizens make up 44% of GMAT test- takers, compared to 22% a decade ago. U.S. students comprise only 36% of all test-takers.
• Asians averaged a mean raw score of 45 on the quant section, compared to a raw mean for U.S. students of 33. The global mean was 38.
• 10 years ago, the Asian students’ raw score was at 42; for U.S. students it was still 33.
To address concerns about the shifting global rankings of the test, this past September GMAC introduced a bench-marking tool that “allows admissions officers to compare applicants against their own cohort, filtering scores and percentile rankings by world region, country, gender and college grade-point average.” Adcom explain that they need a way to measure applicants against other test takers in an applicant’s region. They explain that they don’t just want to “become factories for high-scoring test-takers from abroad.”
Others respond by suggesting that American students need to receive a more intense math education, similar to the emphasis put on mathematics in Asia. But is lack of math education the problem or is it the amount of time Americans invest in test prep? GMAC reports that U.S. students only spend an average 64 hours prepping for the GMAT, compared to the 151 hours put in by Asian students.
Students concerned about their GMAT percentile may want to consider taking the GRE which is now accepted at 85% of b-schools.