Test Prep

Report Profiles Trends in GMAT Scores, Business Programs


Are you considering working toward a business master's degree instead of an MBA? You're not alone.

That's the word from the latest GMAT Geographic Trend Report 2018, which offers global trends among graduate management education students. The report analyzes data from those who took the GMAT between 2013 to 2017, and the results reveal that more people are taking the GMAT and that scores are slowly increasing.

More Females, Younger Students Take the Exam

Globally, the number of students who took the GMAT went up by five percentage points from 2013 (238,356) to 2017 (250,884). The total number of test-takers who scored 600 or higher also increased by seven percentage points during this same time frame.

Women made up 45 percent of worldwide test-takers in 2017, up from 43 percent in 2013. Those under the age of 25 comprised 50 percent of exams taken globally in 2017, up from 49 percent in 2013. The largest positive shift in this trend was seen among candidates from Western European countries.

Business Master's Programs Thrive

GMAT test-takers sent 517,774 score reports to business programs worldwide during 2017. Since 2013, the number of business programs accepting the GMAT has grown by almost a thousand, for a total of 6,958 programs in 2017. The majority of this growth was due to business master's programs in the United States and Western Europe. In fact, the report points out that about 156 new business master's programs accept the GMAT exam every testing year, which is "more than double the growth experienced by MBA programs, with an average of 75 new programs per testing year."

Still, MBA programs were the preferred choice for 64 percent of GMAT test-takers in 2017, followed by business master's programs, which were selected by 33 percent of GMAT test-takers, up from 29 percent in 2013. Globally, part-time MBA programs saw a solid increase in percentage of applicants over this time frame, from 7.7 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent in 2017. However, the percentage of candidates sending in scores to master's in accounting programs dropped from 9.3 percent in 2013 to 7.8 percent in 2017.

Non-business programs are also attracting a growing amount of GMAT-taking candidates. In 2017, 2.3 percent of score reports were sent to masters of data analytics programs, up from 0.2 percent in 2013. According to the report, this trend is primarily driven by citizens of East and Southeast Asian countries. Chinese citizens comprised the second-biggest share of worldwide GMAT exam sittings in 2017 and sent 6.5 percent of their scores to analytics programs.

Effect of Political Climate

While the United States remained the top score-sending destination in 2017, receiving 69 percent of total GMAT scores, this is down from 74 percent in 2013. According to the report, monthly surveys revealed "that non-US citizen preference for the US as a study destination dropped off significantly following the 2016 election. Since the 2016 US election, interest in US programs among non-US citizens has not surpassed the historical average of 44 percent." However, the Brexit vote, which took place in June 2016, has not "notably impacted demand for UK business programs from international (non-UK) citizens.

Resource: For more information about the GMAT trends, check out the report.