Just like many undergraduate programs require an American College Testing (ACT) exam or Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) for admissions consideration, many business schools have a test by which they measure a facet of student preparedness against other applicants. The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) was created to give business school applicants a leg up against their competition and was an industry standard for many years.
According to mba.com, the GMAT indicates that you are serious about your intended career path and have decided on which direction you will go in with your given program. It “measures your critical thinking and reasoning skills… connects you with the best-fit program through personalized program recommendations… increases your earning potential” and is utilized to better inform many admission decisions.
Until a global pandemic changed everything.
What’s the difference?
COVID-19 made standardized testing almost impossible for a variety of reasons, including lack of resources and ability to properly monitor people and their responses while in quarantine. There were already limited opportunities based on socio-economic status, regional resources, and other factors, so coupling that with a disease that made it impossible to gather in large crowds with certified proctors on limited dates in specific settings made taking the GMAT almost impossible. Because of this, many schools that used to complement their measure of a candidate’s preparedness with the GMAT made it optional.
The GMAT average was affected so much by the pandemic, that it took a dive by an average of 9 points at the over 30 schools profiled, almost equal to the 9.3 percent drop in the four year period of 2016 to present.
According to Poets & Quants, “Of the 37 top-50 MBA programs in the United States for which data is available, average scores for the incoming MBA Class of 2022 fell at 30. Seven of the top 10 schools experienced declines from 2019, averaging 3.6 points.” These figures can be directly attributed to the fact that these tests are no longer mandatory. In 2020, the tests were taken less and the drop in test scores and additional data seems to support the fact that they were not taken as seriously as they have been in the past.
Lower-tiered schools – who may not rely on the GMAT and other MBA testing as much as those labeled “top tier” actually saw a plateau in activity, with five actually increasing their average GMAT in the past year. The drop-offs lower-tiered schools had, however, were more noticeable than those from the “top tier” group.
The drop-offs were steeper, with a dozen schools ranked 25-50 reporting average score declines of 14.3 points. Three schools had declines of 20 or more points: UC-Davis, ranked 47th, was worst with a 28-point decline to 641, followed by 26 points at No. 42 Boston University Questrom School of Business (657) and 21 points at No. 26 Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business (689).
Though there is no telling what the trend will be as we come out of the pandemic and start to see more in-person opportunities crop back up, there are several opportunities that may come available. Of course, we may be looking at the demise of standardized testing as we know it.
But in many cases, at-home testing might become more of an option as we adapt to the ways of many European countries. In Denmark, standardized testing is widely distributed in at-home settings, and its results did not vary as much based on that fact as they did based on what time of day students logged in to take their test.
Testing and mental faculties can also widely be dependent on your habits, including diet, sleep health, dental hygiene, and more. If you or anyone you know is preparing to take a professional or standardized test, be sure to hydrate and rest to help lower tension and improve your brain function. Check out our available jobs if you’ve got those GMAT results handy to see what careers you might consider with your education.