B-Schools Say GRE Option Attracts More Non-Traditional MBA Applicants

Kaplan Test Prep’s 2016 business school admissions officers survey finds that 92 percent accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, giving aspiring MBAs more flexibility than ever in deciding which exam to take to get in.

This all-time high percentage in Kaplan’s annual survey represents a huge jump from its 2009 survey — the first year Kaplan asked the question — when only 24 percent of business schools said they accepted GRE scores.

But despite increased acceptance of the GRE among business schools, there’s a point of consideration for MBA applicants who are considering this option: The GMAT might still give applicants an edge at some schools. Twenty-six percent of admissions officer say those who submit a GMAT score have an admissions advantage over those who submit a GRE score.

Only 2 percent say GRE takers have the advantage; the remaining 73 percent say neither exam taker has the advantage, essentially unchanged from Kaplan’s 2015 survey.

Business schools have contended that accepting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT — long the only accepted admissions exam –widens the pool of applicants beyond students from ‘traditional’ MBA backgrounds like finance, banking or consulting.

Kaplan survey data supports this notion and finds that schools have been successful in this effort, with 61 percent saying offering the GRE option has resulted in the enrollment of more students from nontraditional backgrounds. The GRE has not, however, significantly contributed to business schools enrolling more female students (25 percent), students of color (24 percent), or low income students (16 percent).

It’s important to note, unrelated to the GRE, that the percentage of female students at top business schools has increased over the past several years and there are other efforts underway to increase the number of students of color; and the GRE alone isn’t the only reason business schools have enrolled more students from non-traditional MBA backgrounds.

“One reason acceptance of the GRE continues to grow seems to be because it generally broadens the application pool to include prospective students who might bring a different set of experiences and skills to business school and the business world, which is important as the economy continues to diversify. It’s also possible that business schools that don’t offer the GRE option may lose excellent prospective students to schools that do,” said Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

“We continue to stress to students to understand that some schools are still reluctant to give both tests equal cachet, even though they accept both exams. Our advice is to gather intel and ask admissions officers if their program has preference for one exam over the other.”

*The survey was conducted between August 2016 and October 2016 of admissions officers at 224 business schools in the United States. Among the 224 business schools are 18 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.


(323) 934-3936

Latest Blog Post

Compelling Stories for MBA Interviews

Embarking on the MBA admissions journey is a transformative experience, and one of the crucial stages is the interview process. Beyond your GMAT scores and academic achievements, admissions interviews provide a unique opportunity to ...