According to the results of Kaplan Test Prep’s annual survey of business school admissions officers, 92 percent of B-schools now let applicants choose between submitting GMAT or GRE scores.
This number is up slightly from 90 percent in 2015. More significantly, it has skyrocketed from 24 percent in 2009, the first year Kaplan started tracking which schools take GRE scores. This trend points to growing acceptance of the GRE as a business school admissions test in recent years.
One reason the GRE may be catching on among adcoms is that it allows schools to bring more diverse fields of applicants into the admissions process.
Business schools are interested in attracting applicants with a variety of backgrounds. Accepting the GMAT lets schools widen their reach beyond applicants from typical pre-MBA industries like consulting.
By and large, admissions officers seem to feel that accepting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT has led to a rise in non-traditional applicants. According to the Kaplan survey, 61 percent of admissions officers feel this is the case.
That said, while the GRE may make it easier for people without typical business backgrounds to apply to B-schools, most admissions officers say accepting the GRE hasn’t done much to build other kinds of diversity.
Specifically, 25 percent of the participants in the Kaplan survey said accepting the GRE had helped enroll more female students, 24 percent said it had helped enroll more students of color, and only 16 percent said it had helped enroll more low-income students.
So what do all these stats mean for applicants? One takeaway is that the GRE is becoming widely accepted as an alternative to the GMAT and therefore could be a legitimate option for many candidates.
However, there’s an important caveat: while the GRE is gaining popularity as an alternative to the GMAT, the two exams still aren’t seen as interchangeable.
In particularly, a full quarter of the admissions officers surveyed by Kaplan said that applicants who took the GMAT had an edge over those submitting GRE scores. A mere 2 percent said those taking the GRE had an advantage, while the remainder saw the two tests as more or less equal.
In other words, although more than half of admissions officers say they don’t privilege one test over the others, a very sizable minority still see the GMAT as the gold standard. So for candidates who are on the margins and good test takers, the way to go is without a doubt to rock the GMAT.
The bottom line, then, is that while the GRE is gaining ground, the GMAT still has an advantage – so consider the GRE as an option, but only if you have exhausted your chances of achieving top GMAT results.