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GMAC: A user's guide to full-time MBA rankings

Overwhelmed by the rankings? Being confused by the different winners and losers, which categories media outlets like Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report choose? The secret behind the rankings and how to use them is now explained in a new user’s guide published by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) which administers the entrance exam GMAT for business schools.

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Picture: Olivier Le Moal / fotolia

It is an online tool designed to help prospective graduate business students better understand the ranking methodologies established by the media. "Our research shows that individuals applying to graduate management education programmes consider rankings an influential part of their decision-making process," said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. "Though rankings exist to provide useful information to judge the quality of MBA programmes, the existence of multiple rankings contributes to confusion among applicants."

In general rankings are in high demand from applicants as they help evaluate and measure different schools against each other. But they can also get confusing as they put their emphasis on different criteria and these need to line up with what particular students need and want. The user guide examines the five major rankings from Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.

As with each new edition of a ranking publication, a school's ranking position can change, the User's Guide to Full-Time MBA Rankings analyses the last two years' editions of ranking publications, providing data on precisely how much the results changed in one year.

This also often proves that the rankings capture certain aspects of a school but can never give the full picture. GMAT therefore emphasizes to only use the rankings as one decision maker of many.

See the GMAC analysis on mba.com/rankings

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