Posted by: Alison Damast on December 17, 2009
The dreary economy and weak job market doesn’t seem to be dampening people’s desire to go to business school, according to the latest figures from the Graduate Management Admission Council, administrator of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The number of GMAT exams administered in 2009 hit 267,000, just slightly eclipsing the 264,700 given in 2008. That’s an all-time high and the largest number of tests GMAT ever administered in one testing year, even though it’s just an uptick of 2,300 exams over last year. The news comes at a time when other testing administrators such as the Educational Testing Service (ETS) are trying to make inroads into the GMAT testing market by promoting the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
GMAC President and CEO Dave Wilson says he is encouraged by this year’s findings for the testing year, which ran from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2009.
“Going into the year, I wasn’t forecasting a record year, but we have just remained incredibly strong in the face of competition and in the face of the headwinds of a recession,” says Wilson, in a telephone interview this afternoon. “I was pretty pleased to see in a recession that has gone on this long that we have been able to maintain the growth.”
Much of the testing boom has been driven by students outside of the U.S. For the first time in the exam’s history, the number of people taking the test who were non-U.S. citizens outnumbered American test takers. According to GMAC, approximately 51% of applicants who took the GMAT during the last testing year were non-U.S. citizens.
Many of these foreign students are sending their test scores to schools outside of the U.S., as the number of quality programs abroad continues to proliferate, Wilson says. Just a few years ago, 75% of international students sent their scores to U.S. schools; today, that number has dropped to 65%, Wilson says. The shift comes as more and more programs around the world are requiring the GMAT exam, especially in Europe, where an increasing number of students are heading to specialized one-year business master’s degree programs straight from undergraduate.
“There’s a lot of very, very good management education outside the U.S., so for many students it is very attractive now for them to stay nearby or to try a country they hadn’t thought of before,” Wilson says.
Meanwhile, GMAT volume in power-house countries like India and China remains strong, GMAC says. In China, the number of GMAT exams taken by Chinese citizens in 2009 was 23,550, a 35% increase over last year. Meanwhile, Indian citizens took 30,633 GMAT exams, a 7 % increase over 2008.
One of the sharpest increases in GMAT volume came from women, who took a record 104,880 exams in testing year 2009. It was the first time that the number of female test takers exceeded 100,000 in a testing year, and came on the heels of a 36% increase in women taking the test over the past five years, GMAC says.
For more details on the GMAC projections and the official press release, click here.
Readers, are you surprised that GMAT testing volume continued to remain strong in 2009? What do you make of the report’s findings?