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Business Schools Look to GRE® to Boost Diversity

Princeton, N.J. (March 25, 2008) —

At a time when business schools are looking to diversify their applicant pools and to meet expectations from employers for more creative business leaders, growing numbers of institutions across the globe are accepting GRE General Test scores for admission to graduate business school and MBA studies.

The Graduate Record Examinations® (GRE) General Test has been the gold-standard admissions test for graduate study for nearly 60 years. Recently, growing numbers of colleges and universities have begun using the test for admission to MBA and graduate management programs. The reason? It increases and diversifies the business program applicant pool, according to David Bach, Associate Dean of MBA Programs, Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School, in Madrid, Spain.

“We are extremely proud of the diversity of participants in our programs in terms of their international backgrounds, gender, undergraduate majors, career trajectories and aspirations,” says Bach. “Accepting the GRE supports our efforts to attract high-quality participants from very diverse backgrounds, including students who may not have previously contemplated an MBA."

In February, IE announced that it would begin accepting GRE test scores for admissions to all its management degree programs, including the MBA. IE is ranked as one of the top ten business schools world-wide by the Financial Times. In recent months, other highly regarded European business schools have also decided to accept GRE scores for their graduate business programs. These include Helsinki School of Economics, Barcelona School of Economics, ESADE Business School in Barcelona and the European School of Economics in London and other cities.

Articles about the trend toward using the GRE test, in addition to the GMAT® test, for business school acceptance have appeared in Business Week, the Times of London and Inside Higher Education. Most recently, the GRE business school phenomenon was reported in the Beijing Times.

In a Jan. 8 Inside Higher Education article, Derrick Bolton, Director of MBA Admissions, Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggested that accepting the GRE test in addition to GMAT may help boost the pool of women candidates.

“The GRE test takers are more likely to be women, and more likely to be undergraduates or just a year out, while the GMAT is more popular with those who have been out a few years. … If we are able to fish in both of those pools, how can that hurt us? [There are] definitely some people who would not have applied to the MBA program had we put an additional barrier of requiring the GMAT.”

In June 2006, Stanford began accepting GRE scores to boost diversity in its business school applicant pool. In recent months, the GRE Program has approved applications to receive GRE test scores from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.

“Accepting GRE scores makes good business sense,” says ETS Associate Vice President David Payne. “Accepting both GRE and GMAT tests will improve the size, diversity and quality of the applicant pool and student body. Clearly, these are the kinds of tangible benefits that business schools value and what the global business community increasingly demands to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

“Some people are surprised to learn that the GRE test measures the same basic cognitive skills as the GMAT test,” Payne adds. “In fact, ETS actually developed the GMAT test some years ago, so we are keenly aware that it does not measure business skills. Like the GRE test, it measures knowledge and skills that admissions officials must evaluate when considering applicants for graduate programs.”

Because both tests are taken by individuals from diverse academic backgrounds, neither the GRE nor the GMAT tests presume advanced content knowledge in any specific area, including business. However, the GRE General Test includes many questions presented in a business context, including more than 70 percent of the data interpretation questions in the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section. Furthermore, the level of math content knowledge is the same in both GRE and GMAT tests.

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