Business schools that accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT from MBA applicants are growing in number, and the business press is sparing no hyperbole in reporting the trend.
"There's a feud brewing in the graduate-school testing world" (Lagorio 2008).
"One of the hot battles in standardized testing these days is over the M.B.A. market" (Inside Higher Ed 2009).
"The battle between two of the largest graduate school testing giants," the GMAT and the GRE,
"is heating up" (Damast 2009), and "this business school version of the Coke-or-Pepsi debate is raging everywhere" (Di Meglio 2009).
"Now that so many schools are giving the applicants an option between the tests, it's important for business school candidates to know which exam is right for them" (Burnsed 2010).
However, those articles present
conflicting points of view by admissions directors,
admissions counselors, and administrators of the two
tests, leaving MBA applicants more confused than ever
about which exam is right for them. Business school
forums are filled with questions from applicants such
as, "Will admissions committees truly take my GRE
results seriously, or will I be penalized for submitting
them instead of the GMAT? Should I take the GRE since
the math section is less rigorous, or will doing that
actually count against me? Should I take both
tests, or just one–and if just one, which one? What are
the admissions committees really saying by accepting the
GRE, and what should I do about it? How big a deal is
Much of this confusion can be cleared up by addressing assertions made in those
articles about the GRE's entry into the business school admissions process. That
is the purpose of this report: to address the validity of those assertions and
to correct them when necessary. What you read here may surprise you.
Assertion: Business schools will not take GRE scores as seriously as GMAT
scores. This assertion has been made by a number of admissions counselors in the
press, and it is simply not true. Business schools have taken the GRE seriously
for years now–in their Ph.D. programs. Like most business schools, "Sloan has
long accepted the GRE for our Ph.D. program," says Rod Garcia, Admissions
Director of MIT Sloan (Garcia 2010). As a result, "accepting the GRE for MBA
applicants, starting in 2006, required no real adjustment." Since 1988, Sloan
has also accepted the GRE from candidates of its Leaders for Manufacturing
program (now the Leaders for Global Operations program), a joint MBA program;
other business schools have done the same for their own joint degree programs.
In sum, the GRE is already accepted in the business school world. No school is
going to waste its time accepting and considering a test score it doesn't take
Assertion: The GRE is not rigorous enough to assess an applicant's quantitative
ability for business school. This concern is raised not only by admissions
consulting firms but also by business schools holding back on accepting GRE
scores–for example, Emory University's Goizueta Business School, which does not
currently accept the GRE. "Our biggest concern is the validity of the GRE's
quantitative section relative to performance in the first year of MBA studies,"
says Libby Livingston, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Goizueta
(Livingston 2010). "We have data showing a correlation between the GMAT
quantitative section and MBA student grades, data which does not exist for the
GRE quantitative section. We feel that the GMAT is a better indicator of
quantitative ability." Rod Garcia of MIT Sloan, a business school with a
reputation for quantitative rigor, has a different view: "Really, one does not
need such high-level quantitative skills for business school; we don't buy the
argument that the GRE isn't quantitative enough. We are absolutely comfortable
with the quantitative ability measured by the GRE." As pointed out earlier, if
the GRE is good enough to assess academic ability for a business school's Ph.D.
program, then it is more than enough to assess academic ability for the school's
MBA program–and were the GRE truly not rigorous enough, top business schools
like MIT Sloan, Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia would not be accepting
it. If a school accepts the GRE, it considers the test rigorous enough.
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