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Data & Trends

GMAT Examinees Seize Study Opportunities Closer to Home

More GMAT test takers are sending more score reports to more business schools worldwide, a sign of the globalization of both graduate management education and the GMAT exam. All the same, the new GMAC Geographic Trend reports suggest much of the growth in GMAT test taking is from students who are interested in business schools closer to home.

In the testing year ending June 30, 2009, a record 265,613 GMAT exams were taken, 801,504 score reports were sent, and the number of graduate management programs accepting GMAT scores worldwide topped 4,700. In documenting five-year score-sending trends, GMAC’s new World Geographic Trend Report 2005-2009 plus regional reports for Asia and Europe reveal that non-US test takers are sending proportionally fewer score reports to US schools. Nonetheless, even though Asian test takers are sending more test scores to Asian business schools, and European citizens are sending more scores to European schools, overall testing volume rose so much that the total number of scores sent to US schools continued to rise.

Asian Geographic Trend Report, 2005-2009
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Test taking in Asia and by Asian citizens has spurred much of the recent growth in overall GMAT volume. Between the testing years 2005 and 2009, the number of GMAT exams taken both in Asia and by Asian citizens nearly doubled—from 30,630 to 60,296 Asian residents and from 45,239 to 79,096 Asian citizens. By TY09, Asian citizens represented 30 percent of all GMAT tests taken.

GMAT testing among Asian citizens (up 75 percent) and residents (up 97 percent) grew substantially more than the overall global increase (32 percent) from testing years 2005 to 2009.

Sustained testing expansions in China (up 309 percent) and India (up 202 percent) fueled most of the growth in the past five years, with residents of China and India now accounting for 64 percent of all tests taken in Asia.

Asian schools received nearly 50,000 score reports from GMAT test takers in TY09, up more than 200 percent from TY05. Programs in India (up 343 percent), Singapore (up 332 percent), China (up 188 percent) and the Philippines (up 143 percent) saw the biggest gains.  

Although nine of the 10 Asian citizen groups studied in this report sent the majority of their score reports to US business schools in TY09, the proportion of score reports sent to US schools fell from 77 percent in TY05 to 67 percent in TY09.  Despite this decline, the total number of score reports sent to US schools by Asian citizens rose from 115,406 in TY05 to 190,780 in TY09 due to the significant regional testing growth noted above.

As more business schools around the world use the GMAT, test takers “have more opportunity to study at attractive regional and domestic programs,” GMAC senior research analyst Alex Chisholm says. He adds that there’s probably more behind the growth of GMAT volume in Asia than students seeking a safe harbor during a soft global job market. “Persistent economic growth in India and China over the last several years has likely enticed many students into business schools” so they can prepare to compete for the best new jobs created by economic expansion in their home countries, he says.

European Geographic Trend Report 2005 to 2009
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Europe has become an increasingly attractive business school destination for GMAT examinees worldwide, with the number of score reports received by business schools in the top 10 European countries up 96 percent from TY05 to TY09 – a far greater increase than the 41 percent worldwide increase over the same time period.

The number of tests taken by European residents rose from 15,996 in TY05 to 22,269 in TY09.

Testing was widely distributed among several European citizen groups in TY09, with German, French, British, Russian, and Italian examinees accounting for just 53 percent of all tests taken by European citizens. Of the top 15 European citizen groups to take the GMAT, 13 were from Western Europe.

The total number of score reports European citizens sent to business schools rose from 38,935 in TY05 to 50,893 in TY09. But during this five-year span, there was a reversal of market share between the United States and Europe. The percentage of European scores sent to US schools declined from 49 percent to 41 percent as the percentage of European scores sent to schools in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and Italy rose from 41 percent to 49 percent.

European test takers also sent an average of only 2.2 score reports per examinee in TY09, the lowest of any world region, says GMAC senior research analyst Courtney Defibaugh. “European students tend to focus on fewer graduate programs than students anywhere else, and increasingly this focus is on regional business programs.”

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