My graph-making skills are admittedly a bit rusty these days, but check this out:
You probably see what I see: the number of GMAT test-takers took a dive in 2013, and it hasn’t recovered completely -- particularly here in the United States.
So what else happened in 2013? Well, my Boston Red Sox won the World Series – wait, no, that has nothing to do with it. But in 2013, the GRE was pushing hard for acceptance in the MBA admissions world. By the end of 2013, the GRE was accepted by nearly every major MBA program in the United States.
(As part of its marketing push, the GRE tried some odd stuff. They contacted a number of GMAT bloggers and tutors, and urged us to tell our students to take the GRE instead of the GMAT, since the GRE makes it easier to change your answers during the exam. They invited me to speak personally with one of their psychometricians – but sadly, she was a narrow-minded fool who had zero understanding of what it’s actually like to take the GRE exam. Marketing fail, GRE.)
Anyway, back to the GMAT data. We obviously can’t be sure that the drop in GMAT tests was solely a consequence of competition from the GRE – after all, the world economy was still doing weird stuff back then, and the number of youngish professionals with “MBA-feeder” jobs probably dropped during the Great Recession. But I suspect that the GRE played at least some role in the GMAT’s decline, and if I’m correct, there are two major consequences.
First, the GMAT’s potential loss of market share to the GRE has forced the GMAT to adapt in quite a few ways, partly to try to win back test-takers, and partly to recoup lost revenue in other ways. (After all, it costs a fortune to produce good, official GMAT questions.) Since 2013, the GMAT has introduced all of the following products:
Enhanced GMAT score reports ($24.95)
The ability to completely remove canceled scores from your GMAT score report; this is free at the testing center, but now you can also cancel a score up to 72 hours after leaving the exam ($25)
The ability to reinstate canceled scores ($50)
New editions of the GMAT official guides released every year, instead of every 3-5 years ($85 for the bundle of three 2017 official guides on the GMAC website)
A reduction in the wait time between exams from 31 days to 16 days
Release of additional, full practice tests ($49.99 for a set of two GMATPrep exams); the GMAT now offers 6 official practice tests, while the GRE has only released two
Some of these things are clearly money-grabs, but most are wonderful for GMAT test-takers. Apparently, competition is good, even when the competitors are two supposedly not-for-profit standardized testing companies.
But for whatever it’s worth, there’s a second reason why GMAT’s drop in market share might be relevant to you as an MBA applicant: perhaps it’s a sign that the GRE really is gaining traction in MBA admissions.
In an earlier blog post, I argued that the GRE’s absence from the MBA rankings might be the biggest reason why taking the GRE can be a good idea. But once the GRE becomes commonplace in MBA admissions, won’t it be just a matter of time before the GRE weasels its way into MBA rankings schemes? And if that happens -- and it might not -- then maybe the GRE advantage will evaporate.
So enjoy the GRE vs. GMAT competition while it lasts – and before it accidentally creates unintended consequences that aren’t so MBA applicant-friendly.
Although this little corner of the internet is called “GMAT Ninja,” the author of this blog post also offers GRE tutoring services in Denver, Colorado and online via Skype. If you’re not sure which test to take, call or email for more information… or try starting from the beginning of this now seven-part series on the GRE vs. the GMAT.