As an organization founded on the premise that high-quality evaluation can create opportunities for more people, GMAC is committed to being at the forefront of partnering with schools to use assessments for the benefit of both schools and candidates. Exchanging key information about interests, experiences, and both cognitive and non-cognitive skills is fundamental to finding the right fit programs and ensuring successful enrollment matches. For decades assessments have been a particularly efficient and effective way to gather information about academic readiness and they have the potential to do so much more for GME as it continues to evolve.
I appreciate the time a number of schools have spent with us recently to share their views on how our industry is changing and how we at GMAC should continue to evolve our preparation and assessment solutions. The conversations differ by region and by context at the school and sometimes program level, especially as programs are significantly less uniform than they were years ago. Still, there’s a common thread that jumps out around a desire to be more inviting to a wider base of candidates, particularly candidates who continue to be underrepresented in GME classrooms and in business leadership at large.
It’s clear that, on one hand, standardized tests continue to provide schools with very high-fidelity, structured, and consistent data, with good transparency regarding what’s being measured and why, which is difficult to achieve with other more subjective types of evaluation. On the other hand, it’s also pretty clear that a single standard doesn’t fit every school’s needs to make informed admissions decisions. The diverse candidate pipelines schools want to reach have diverse needs and expectations from the beginning of the process to the end. The implication is that our GMAC Assessments portfolio needs to be a more flexible set of enablers along the candidate journey so that more people can find the right program fit for them.
As I listen, a couple of ways that GMAC’s assessments could evolve to support a more diverse, qualified GME pipeline are coming into view: 1) introduce smaller diagnostic-type assessment solutions to guide candidates earlier in their consideration and preparation, and 2) offer more flexible and holistic assessment solutions that can be tailored to best complement the candidate’s application.
Smaller diagnostic-style assessments that gather information early on about relevant capabilities such as baseline quantitative skills, critical thinking, integrated reasoning and interpersonal skills would have the benefit of guiding a prospective student’s next steps in a more efficient and less pressured way that’s already adding to their growth. Candidates can be introduced to the types of skills they’ll need to be successful and can get an objective read on whether it’s an area of strength or weakness. If needed, they can be directed to additional resources available through GMAC or within our GME ecosystem so that we are perhaps catching students before they drop off. Understanding where a candidate is and offering available pathways toward readiness can calibrate expectations, boost commitment and more confidently and quickly move them to the next step in their process.
Further along the journey, flexible assessment systems could give a more personalized experience and avoid candidates spending any more time on testing than necessary to help them put forth their best application. A more modular and stackable system would allow those whose academic or work experience already meet certain school-defined criteria to streamline their testing requirements, while still giving others the chance to demonstrate that they’ve addressed any potential skill gaps. Such a system could also more readily make room to go beyond cognitive readiness to additional holistic dimensions like open-mindedness, integrity, collaborative capacity and communication effectiveness so schools can have objective test information that complements the whole evaluation process. This would help testing feel more like an essential element of an application rather than redundant with other components.
These are just a few ideas informing the work underway on our GMAC Assessments product roadmap. I look forward to continuing to engage with you as we build a future for GME evaluation that helps make a personalized experience the end-to-end hallmark of a high-quality graduate management education.