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Business School Admissions Offices Increasingly Accepting GRE General Test


An increasing number of graduate business schools are accepting the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test for admission, in addition to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), according to the Educational Testing Service.

Stanford Graduate School of Business began accepting GRE scores in June 2006, ETS says, and in recent months, the GRE Program has approved applications to receive GRE test scores from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and University of Michigan Ross School of Business, among others.

ETS argues that accepting the GRE will enhance efforts to diversify graduate business programs, drawing more people of color, women and applicants from a variety of countries, who have not taken the GMAT. More than 600,000 people in about 230 countries took the GRE General Test in 2007, according to ETS.

ETS officials say that the test measures the same skills as the GMAT and that those applicants who have taken it will find it easier to apply to business school instead of or in addition to other disciplines, as will those who have double majors or want to change careers. The GRE General Test also costs less than the GMAT, $140, compared to $250, and is more widely available around the world, ETS says.

“Accepting GRE scores makes good business sense,” says David Payne, ETS associate vice president. “Both GRE and GMAT tests will improve the size, diversity and quality of the applicant pool and student body. Clearly, these are the kinds of tangible benefits that business schools value and what the global business community increasingly demands to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

“Some people are surprised to learn that the GRE test measures the same basic cognitive skills as the GMAT test,” Payne adds. “In fact, ETS actually developed the GMAT test some years ago, so we are keenly aware that it does not measure business skills. Like the GRE test, it measures knowledge and skills that admissions officials must evaluate when considering applicants for graduate programs.”

ETS says that neither the GRE nor the GMAT tests presume advanced knowledge in specific content areas, including business but that the GRE presents many questions in a business context, and the level of knowledge needed for the math content is the same in both GRE and GMAT tests.

ETS describes the GRE as a test of “verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills.” GMAT is described as a test that “assesses verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills developed over time.”

The GMAT is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

David A. Wilson, GMAC’s president and chief executive officer, tells Diverse, however, that no data exist to support a claim that the GRE can predict success in business schools as well as the GMAT. “Nothing can predict as well as the GMAT,” he says. “This is just hard data.”

Nicole Chestang, chief operating officer for GMAC, says, “We have been doing research … now for the last 40-plus years on the GMAT and how well it works as a tool for graduate business schools. We just have reams of data to suggest that, bar none. … It is the best test for graduate business schools.”

“More than 4,000 programs all over the world have relied on the GMAT for over 50 years to help them predict the academic success of their applicants for the MBA and other graduate programs,” Chestang adds.

ETS developed and administered the GMAT until two years ago when GMAC began using ACT Inc. to develop the test and software, and Pearson Vue to deliver the exam worldwide. Wilson says GMAC made the switch to achieve better global reach, take advantage of better technology and enhance test security.

GMAC conceded that the GRE pool might include more students who had not intended to study for an MBA but that GMAT delivers candidates who have shown an interest in business and are qualified.

“You’ve got a test that is predictable,” Wilson says. “You’ve got a test that is reliable. You’ve got better service to the schools, and you’ve got far better service to the test takers. We don’t really have to talk schools into or tell them not to take the GRE. They can make that decision for themselves.”

Wilson says GMAC expects the volume of test takers for the year ending June 30 to be near the record of 244,000, at 243,000 to 245,000 this year. “So schools are making their decision,” he concludes.

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