November 5, 2021

Paul Bodine Weighs in on Dramatic Rise in GMAT Averages at US B-Schools

Admitify’s founder and president, Paul Bodine, was quoted in a November 2nd Poets & Quants’ article on the curious case of the GMAT’s dramatic comeback in 2021. P&Q’s Marc Ethier recounts how GMAT scores at 30 of 37 of the leading U.S. MBA programs dropped in 2020, scores roared back this year at all the top 26 business schools except U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business (which lost a point from 727 to 726). 15 of the schools either matched or set school records, with Stanford Graduate School of Business leading the pack with a GMAT average of 738.


But why the dramatic turnaround? Poets & Quants talked to admissions officials at some schools with the largest increases and found a variety of possibilities from a dramatic increase in overall applications at IU Kelley School of Business to a jump in international applications at Michigan Ross School of Business. However, while applications at UVA Darden School of Business and UW Foster School of Business were fairly flat and applications actually dropped at Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, all three schools experienced significant increases in their class scores.


Paul weighed in and noted that the increase in GMAT scores has many causes, including GMAC’s recent score cancellation changes and GMAT-optional policies at business schools during the COVID pandemic. For these reasons, Paul commented, “Only those applicants who do well on the GMAT will submit GMAT scores and the scores submitted will only be high scores. That said, I think the main reason for the post-Covid increase in average scores is this: COVID-induced fear of dropping enrollments caused panicked business schools to widen their standards in order to fill their classes. Now that they are seeing the light at the end of the Covid tunnel and a surge in applications, they are shifting back to their historical concern to guard their ranking through increased GMAT selectivity, with the score cancellation and GMAT-optional policies giving them higher-GMAT applicants to choose from. And they can afford to be more selective on the GMAT side because the growing respectability of the GRE as a GMAT alternative gives them plenty of other applicants by which to meet their enrollment goals. Post-Covid there will simply be much less risk to maintaining high GMAT standards going forward.”


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