The GMAT Exam Is Not Getting Easier: The Fallacy of Score Increases and the Impact of Score Preview

The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) exam was developed to assess skills most relevant to student success in graduate business programs and to help business schools select qualified applicants. The exam is currently used by more than 6,500 programs worldwide and taken by more than 200,000 candidates each year exclusively for admission to a graduate business program. In recent years, the average GMAT exam score of the admitted class of leading graduate business programs has risen, raising questions about the integrity of GMAT exam scores and whether the exam is getting easier. This research report explores whether and how GMAT exam scores have changed over time. 


This GMAC research report analyzes GMAT exam scores from testing years (TY) 2011 through 2015 for test takers in eight countries—which account for about 80% of exams taken each year—to determine what impact changing test-taker demographics and the introduction of a score preview feature to the GMAT exam may be having on calculated average scores. The examinee base was segmented along five dimensions (citizenship, residency status, gender, undergraduate major, and age) using five-year GMAT testing data from citizens of the following eight countries: United States, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, India, and South Korea.

A demographically driven comparison of the historical exam data was used to recalculate the TY2016 exam scores. The potential impact of the score preview feature of the GMAT exam was also explored by comparing two years of score-sending data—TY2014 (before the GMAT score preview was introduced) and TY2016 (the year score preview became available).