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Data & Trends

Regional GMAT Trends Point to Complexity in Student Mobility

European citizens are pursuing more management education opportunities closer to home. Middle Eastern citizens are looking at more programs in the US. And East and Southeast Asian citizens are exploring management programs in many world regions.

All these regional trends add up to an increasingly complex picture of student mobility in graduate management education in GMAC’s new World Geographic Trend Report, which tracks GMAT test taking and score-sending patterns over the past five years.

A total of 258,192 GMAT exams were taken in the testing year ending June 30, 2011 (TY11), the third highest ever and down slightly from the peak of 265,613 in TY09, the report says. In TY2011, test takers sent a total of 750,399 score reports sent to schools, just half of which went to domestic programs.

“Globally, there are more management education options than ever before, with more quality business and management programs in different parts of the world, more different types of programs — and more of them using the GMAT exam in their admissions processes,” said Alex Chisholm, senior research manager for the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Although the US remains the top score-sending destination for global examinees, its market share continues to decline, from 83 percent in TY07 to 77 percent in TY11, he added. “Higher education in general and management education in particular are becoming more global, and the mobility patterns are becoming increasingly complex. “

Key regional five-year trends:

Dramatic Shifts

  • East and Southeast Asia (including China). The number of GMAT exams taken by East and Southeast Asian citizens has risen steadily to 57,649, with Chinese citizens accounting for 70 percent of the East Asia region exams taken. The proportions of women (57 percent), test takers under 25 (61 percent), and scores sent to specialized master’s programs (53 percent) are all up significantly and are highest in the world.
  • Central and South Asia (including India). Indian citizens took 91 percent of the 27,902 GMAT exams taken by Central and South Asian citizens in TY11, a region with just 25 percent of exams taken by women. Scores sent to the US from citizens of this region declined from 67 percent to 55 percent, as the proportion of scores sent to India, the UK, and Singapore all increased.
  • Western Europe. GMAT test taking was up 41 percent in this region from TY07 to an all-time high of 18,698 in TY11. More than half (52 percent) the tests taken by Western Europeans in TY11 were taken by test takers under 25. Western Europeans are sending fewer scores to the US (28 percent) and to MBA programs (49 percent), and more scores (68 percent) to domestic or regional opportunities.
  • Eastern Europe. Eastern European citizens are sending proportionally fewer scores to the US (47 percent) and more to Europe, especially to the UK, France, and the Netherlands. The percentage of scores sent to specialized master’s programs doubled in five years to 39 percent, while 53 percent of scores went to MBA programs in TY11.
  • Middle East. Middle Eastern citizens were the only regional group studied that sent a higher proportion of scores to the US than they did five years ago (from 43 percent in TY07 to 47 percent in TY11).
  • Africa. The percentage of scores sent from African citizens to US programs is down to 61 percent, as citizens sent proportionally more scores to Canada, South Africa, and France.

Relatively Stable Score-Sending Trends

  • The US and Canada. The US and Canada are among the handful of countries in which their citizens send most of their scores to domestic programs, with US citizens sending 98 percent of their scores to US programs and Canadians sending 62 percent of their scores to programs in Canada. US citizens took 116,546 GMAT exams in TY11, down from the TY09 recessionary peak of 130,508 but test taking remains at about the same level as it was in TY07. Canadian citizens took 7,323 GMAT exams in TY11, down on slightly from TY10 and TY09 highs and similar to TY08 volumes. 
  • Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The proportion of tests taken by citizens of the LATAM region under age 25 dropped to just 20 percent in TY11, from an already-low 22 percent in TY07. Score-sending patterns remained relatively stable, with citizens sending three out of four scores to US schools.
  • Australia and Pacific Islands. The proportion of exams taken by test takers younger than 25 in this region declined from 26 percent to 18 percent in five years and is the lowest of any world region studied. Citizens of Australia and the Pacific Islands are sending slightly fewer scores to the US, and slightly more to programs in Australia and Hong Kong SAR.

Learn more about the score-sending trends in the new World Geographic Trend Report and test-taking trends in the Profile of GMAT Candidates. In addition, explore the companion interactive research flex tool, GMAT TrendsTracker using Adobe Flash (login required and available for all schools that use the GMAT exam in their admissions processes).

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