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Where in the World GME Students Are—and Where They’re Headed

As global interest in the MBA continues to expand, GMAT examinees sent nearly 750,000 score reports to schools around the world in Testing Year 2008 (the year ending June 30, 2008)—25 percent more scores than were sent four years before. Where do tomorrow’s MBA students come from, and where do they hope to enroll? 

GMAC analysis shows that Asia now accounts for a fast-growing share of GMAT testing activity worldwide. The number of GMAT score reports sent by students from around the world to business schools in Europe is also on the rise. North America, meanwhile, has seen a dramatic increase in GMAT test scores being sent from India and China.

In TY08 overall, more score reports were sent by non-US citizens (382,377) than US citizens (362,657). Non-US examinees represented 51 percent of all scores sent, up from 46 percent in TY04.

Although programs in the United States remained the preferred destinations for 81 percent of GMAT examinees in TY08, non-US citizens continue to send more of their score reports to non-US business programs. The proportion of scores sent by non-US citizens to the United States fell from 75 percent in TY00 to 65 percent in TY08.

Here’s a closer look at trends in North America, Asia, and Europe, with audio podcasts.

North American Trends

Test takers in the United States and Canada overwhelmingly send their exam scores to schools in those countries. In TY08, as in TY04, GMAT examinees in all 50 states sent more than 95 percent of their score reports to programs in the United States. Further, of the score reports sent to programs within the United States in TY08, examinees in 39 states sent at least half their score reports to programs in the state where they took the test. Examinees in Canada continue to send most of their score reports to programs in that country.

Meanwhile, examinees from both India and China increased the number of score reports sent to the United States by 161 percent and 256 percent, respectively, between TY04 and TY08. In TY08, seven of the top 10 countries sending GMAT scores to US programs were in Asia. 

Further evidence that the GMAT is becoming a more global enterprise is reflected in the number of both US and non-US citizens taking the GMAT exam in the United States, which increased by 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively, between TY06 and TY08.

Asian Trends

According to Asian Geographic Trend Report for GMAT Examinees 2004-2008 the number of GMAT exams taken in Asia increased by 73 percent between TY04 and TY08. In that period, the number of exams taken by residents of India and China increased 209 percent and 145 percent, respectively.

Asian citizens accounted for 29 percent of GMAT tests taken globally in TY08. Asian test takers sent 257,522 score reports to business schools worldwide—up 70 percent from TY04.

Prospective MBA students have shown increased interest in graduate management programs in Asia. In TY04, the top 10 Asian countries received just 2 percent of scores sent worldwide. By TY08, this percentage increased to 5 percent, driven by triple-digit growth in the number of scores received by programs in India (470 percent), Singapore (305 percent), the Philippines (121 percent), and China (112 percent). In part, this trend reflects that the GMAT exam has become a more prominent part of the admissions process for Asian schools.

Graduate management programs in Asia have attracted an increasing number of score reports from all GMAT examinees over the past five years. In TY08, the top 10 countries in Asia to receive score reports were sent 39,156 scores from examinees around the world, a 215 percent increase from TY04.

The attraction of the United States as a destination for test scores has changed for several Asian citizen groups since TY04. The proportion of test scores sent to US programs dropped in six of 10 Asian countries, but the absolute number of score reports sent to US programs from many of the countries actually rose as the testing volume went up.

European Trends

Europe has become an increasingly attractive destination for prospective business school students from around the world, according to European Geographic Trend Report for GMAT Examinees 2004-2008. The number of GMAT score reports received by programs in Europe increased 47 percent from TY04 to TY08, outpacing a worldwide increase of 25 percent over the same period. The leading European destinations to which all examinees sent score reports in TY08 were the United Kingdom, France, and Spain.

As a group, European citizens combined took 19,567 GMAT exams in TY08 and sent a total of 42,733 score reports. The top five sources of European test takers in TY08 were France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Russia.

On average, European examinees sent only 2.2 score reports each in TY08—the lowest average of any world region. That substantially limited their exposure to business
schools worldwide, but could also indicate that these candidates have a better idea of where they want to study than other citizen groups.

European business schools continued to retain a greater percentage of their domestic and regional talent. In TY08, the majority of score reports sent by many of the European citizen groups surveyed were sent to schools within Europe. Analysis shows that the relative gains made by European schools have largely come at the expense of schools in the United States and Canada. The proportion of European score reports received by schools in the United States, for example, was 46 percent in TY08, down from 52 percent in TY04 and 61 percent in TY01.

Much more detail about geographic trends among GMAT test takers can be found in the World Geographic Trend Report at GMAC’s Geographic Trends page.

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