More B-Schools Welcoming the GRE

The GMAT‘s undisputed reign over the business school admission process has taken yet another hit, as the number of top schools now accepting the GRE as well has grown by leaps and bounds this year. Alison Damast‘sin-depth BusinessWeek piece, GRE v. GMAT: Battle of the B-School Gatekeepers, says that the movement coincides with younger applicants””fresh out of college or just a year or two after graduation””beginning to show increased interest in business school.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is the latest to announce it will begin accepting the GRE for admission in the fall of 2010. Admissions Director J.J. Cutler tells BW that the move is a way for the school  to attract a broader applicant pool, including dual-degree students, younger applicants, and international applicants from far-flung countries without GMAT access.

“We are trying to open up a little bit the different types of people that we want to apply to business school and we don’t want to create additional hurdles for them to do so,” says Cutler.

Why the sudden acceptance of the GRE?

Business schools have begun embracing the GRE, a standardized exam that students use to apply to a wide variety of graduate schools, because for many applicants, this flexibility allows them to transition into an MBA program without studying for and taking another exam. Up until recently, the GMAT exam had a virtual monopoly over business school standardized exams.

That all changed on Jan. 1, 2006, BW explains, when The Graduate Management Admission Council cut its ties with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), with whom it had a decades-long partnership to develop and deliver the GMAT exam, moving instead to a new testing administrator, Pearson VUE. With ETS no longer obligated to abide by a noncompete clause with GMAC, it now had the freedom to court business school admissions officers and promote the GRE as an alternative exam. Under the previous agreement between ETS and GMAC, this type of activity was forbidden.

ETS also promotes the exam as a more affordable option for students; it costs $150 to take the GRE, versus $250 for the GMAT.

So, which MBA programs now accept the GRE General Test?

  • Harvard Business School
  • Darden School of Business
  • Queen’s School of Business
  • Tulane’s Freeman School of Business
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • IE Business School-Spain
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business

What’s in store for the future?

A new evaluation system to the GRE called the Personal Potential Index (PPI) will be offered for free to future test-takers. BW explains that this index  is a Web-based tool that allows recommenders to rank students based on six key personality traits: resilience, teamwork, planning and organization, knowledge and creativity, ethics, and communication skills.

Students can elect to send the results of the 24-question standardized assessment to up to four schools, at no additional charge. ETS is billing the system as the first large-scale use of noncognitive measures, or soft skills, for admissions in higher education,  and hopes it will make the GRE more competitive in the graduate school testing market, especially in the business school sector.

As the spotlight focuses on the GRE these days, GMAC has revved up a campaign to show prospective test-takers why there’s still no question about which exam is superior. With a side-by-side comparison, GMAC handily concludes that when it comes to quality, there’s no substitute for the GMAT exam.

Time will tell…

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