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GRE: Wharton joins the club

Although it says quite clearly on the Wharton MBA’s website, that no admission test is delivering comparable results to the GMAT yet, Wharton School has decided to accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for future admission to Wharton’s MBA program, according to the US Magazine BusinessWeek.

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And Wharton is not the only one: MIT and Standford allowed students to submit the GRE for admission to their MBA programs several years ago, this year Harvard and Darden have followed the trend. With these strong carthorses the Educational Testing Service (ETS) is expecting a soaring increase in acceptance of the GRE at business schools worldwide.

ETS traditionally developed the GMAT for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which had long been the only and unchallenged standard for admission to MBA programs. Since 2006 GMAC is working with a different testing administrator, which allows ETS – now freed of any noncompete clause with GMAC – to promote their GRE and market directly to business schools.


So far the GRE has been used for admission to Master and PhD-Programs. Structure and content resemble the GMAT-procedure in large parts: Basically the candidates’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills are evaluated.

Reasons for the unexpected popularity of the GRE can rather be found in basic organizational conditions: According to ETS the GRE is available in 165 countries, GMAT only in 110. Furthermore, GMAT can only be taken  computer-based, while the GRE is offering paper-based tests in countries with low access to computers. It is also planned that the GRE can be taken online by 2011.

Another bonus are the low test fees. With a fee of 150 to 205 USD the GRE is more affordable than GMAT (250 USD). ETS is even promoting financial aid to those GRE applicants who proove economic hardship. Hence, the GRE is more appealing to international MBA students and applicants from a non-traditional background.

New students, more results

Business schools are hoping for a greater variety and a wider pool of applicants by accepting both tests. Additionally calls for an evaluation system of soft skills and social competences are getting louder: With Leadership and Human Relations gaining importance in MBA courses not only the intellectual skills, but also the personal potential of each applicant plays a major role in the admissions process. Therefore, GMAC has already examined 200 assessment tools, however, none has met their strict criteria yet, said Wilson, President and CEO of the GMAC to BusinessWeek.

Meanwhile ETS launched the Personal Potential Index (PPI) in addition to the GRE results last month. Without further charge candidates may take an online test evaluating six personality traits, which had been defined in cooperation with business schools.

GMAC has also announced a basic revision of their procedure as well as the test content in respect to a broader and more international reach. 740 schools have already been asked about how the GMAT could be improved. The “Next Generation GMAT” is planned for 2013. Obviously, the race between the two admissions tests has only just begun.

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