GMAT and B-school Volume Up Big

GMAC recently released GMAT testing volume data for the 2012 testing year (July 1 2011 to June 30 2012) that shows significant increases in both the number GMAT tests taken and the number of score reports sent to graduate management schools. Some of the key figures:

  • The 2012 testing year saw more than 286,000 GMAT tests taken, up nearly 11 percent from 2011.
  • About 831,000 GMAT score reports, a historic number, were sent to almost 5,300 programs in 2012.
  • Testing numbers outside the U.S. continue to skyrocket, with the number of tests up 19 percent from 2011 and comprising 59% of all tests taken.
  • The percentage of tests taken by women has jumped to a new record as well, comprising nearly 43% of all tests taken.

While part of these record numbers can be attributed to interest in the changes to the test (which took place in early June 2012), they also speak to renewed interest in graduate management education. Information from GMAC’s 2012 Application Trends Survey (ATS) supports this assessment, indicating that a greater share of all programs (from MBA to PhD and everything in between) saw an increase in their application volume for the 2012-13 incoming class than in 2011-12. Here are some additional intriguing insights from the ATS:

  • Globally, more than half of all full-time MBA programs saw their application volume hold steady or increase over 2011, compared with only 37% of all full-time MBA programs reporting the same in 2011.
  • Online MBA programs saw even better growth, with 66% reporting increased application volume.
  • 90% of  all MBA programs surveyed indicated that the academic qualifications of their applicant pools were equal to or better than those of 2011 application pools.
  • A new survey question asked what percent of the incoming class expected to receive some form of employer funding for their graduate management education. The results: 77% of MBAs were expected to receive support, while 56% of masters program candidates were expected to receive support.

So what does this mean? For starters, it appears that declining growth in interest in graduate management education seems to be slowing, and may well be on the rebound. That also means more applications will likely be pouring into admissions offices this year and next, resulting in increased competition more akin to what we were seeing prior to the global recession and weak recovery of the past few years. To combat this competition, business school candidates best bet would be to put together the best application possible. That starts with a great GMAT score. With a head start on next years application cycle, you can put yourself in a great position to succeed. Here are few things you can do to best position yourself:

1) Make use of the time you have – If you’re gearing up for the Round 2 application cycle of this year, your options are limited but there’s still time to make improvements. Seek help to push you over the top on your GMAT scores. If you’re shooting for next year’s application cycle, you’ve got a lot of time to invest in getting your GMAT score in order well before you need to tackle your application. Use the time wisely. People often underestimate the time involved for pushing their GMAT score to the heights they envision. With almost a year until Round 1 deadlines for 2013, there is no time like the present to get started. 2) Research your schools and programs – This is valuable not just for knowing what your GMAT scores should look like when applying, but also for knowing the kinds of schools and programs most suitable to you. 3) Start laying the groundwork for you application – A big part of applications is recommendations. With early attention, you can ensure you’re getting your recommendations from the best possible recommenders for you. 4) Develop a Plan – Creating a comprehensive 12 or 18-month plan will help you chart your path to success. It will also reduce stress. Make sure you plan has incremental goals and both near-term and long-term goals. Don’t just work for the endgame. Work for the steps that lead up to the endgame.

While the numbers could paint an ominous picture for applicants this year and next, they don’t have to. There are bright spots as well, like the fact that a majority of MBA programs (60%) increased their targeted program size in 2012 as compared with 2011. Moreover, the growth in the graduate management education interest speaks volumes about the continued value of the degrees. With the economy still slowly recovering, there may be no better time to get your graduate management education under your belt. For more information on how Bell Curves can help you achieve your top GMAT score, visit us here.

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