Test Preparation

GMAT Score Boom: How the Scores Increased Exponentially Last Year?

GMAT Score Boom: How the Scores Increased Exponentially Last Year?

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Read to know the reasons why the GMAT scores around the world increased exponentially in 2021. Understand the reason behind this increase and also read the GMAT trends of 2021.

GyanDhan

Gurbani kaur Suri

Updated on: 27 Oct 2023

The year 2020 was the year of lows, and every index from social indices to per capita income to GDP crashed. The year also affected education adversely, especially for those who were planning to study abroad. The top B-schools witnessed an unprecedented decrease in admissions, and students who were planning to take GMAT either couldn’t take the exam or couldn’t score well in the test. The events of pandemics affected the test both qualitatively and quantitatively. The quantitative aspect leads to a direct effect on the qualitative aspects of GMAT scores in 2020. As the number of applicants drastically reduced, many top B-schools reduced the required GMAT scores. And there were several instances wherein the B-schools event went on to the extent of totally ruling out GMAT from the admission process. 

 


In the US more than 90% of B-schools witnessed a downfall in the GMAT scores. However, many confuse this downfall with a new trend but the tables turned around dramatically. Last year the scores increased exponentially, and we will delve into the relevant statistics. 

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Why was there a steep decline in scores in 2020?

In 2020, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic there were a lot of uncertainties. There was an acute lack of information which left the whole world confused. We haven’t had a situation like this in our lifetimes. So, the extent of uncertainty grasped the education sector as well, and GMAT was no different. The applicants had a lot of doubts about travel abroad, opening up of colleges, online mode of teaching, and a ton of other factors. All these factors somehow contributed to a steep fall in the number of GMAT test-takers, and consecutively the admissions in B-schools. The governments across the world were uncertain about opening up international borders which pulled away students from taking a shot at the GMAT exam, and admissions to B-schools abroad. 

You can’t distinguish B-schools when it comes to the fall in the required GMAT scores, as the impact swept all institutions across the globe. Not only in the US but the UK, EU, Australia, and across the spectrum the GMAT score requirements fell. 

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Why did the GMAT Scores jump back in 2021?

After the pandemic struck the world, people adapted to the new normal. And many thought that everything has changed but this wasn’t the case with GMAT scores. The GMAT scores jumped back pretty fast, and several factors contributed to the sudden rise. Many overlooked the fact that there might have been some hurdles in 2020 but the world adapted to these changes more rapidly than anyone else would have anticipated. The extent of the pandemic was unprecedented so was the adaptation. It was evident from the sudden rise in the number of applicants to B-schools. The students who couldn’t take the GMAT in 2020 or couldn’t take admission came in addition to the existing applicants. For instance the number of applicants rose by 61% in one year at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. The GMAT score for 2020 was 652 which increased by 27 points to reach 679 in 2021. A similar rise in the number of applicants has been witnessed in other B-schools across the US, EU, and the UK

The rise in the number of applicants had a direct bearing on the requisite GMAT scores. It might have appeared to some that the GMAT scores will continue to decrease but this wasn’t the case. A similar pattern was noticed at Rice Jones wherein the GMAT scores increased from 689 in 2020 to 705 in 2021, a steep increase of 16 points in one year. 

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Which factors skyrocketed the score patterns? 

One thing that none of us would have anticipated in March 2020 is the pace at which the world will adapt to the worst crisis in the last 100 years. The pandemic, and its effects were certainly devastating but the adaptation was equally praiseworthy. Once people adapted, the students started taking the GMAT test. New avenues of employment were generated, more students planned to take admissions in B-schools. 

The following factors attributed to the increase in GMAT scores in 2021:-

  • list items More international students appeared for GMAT, and applied for admission at top B-schools of the world. 
  • list items The sudden influx of students was part of the backlog admission of 2020 which was derailed due to the pandemic. 
  • list items The pandemic made the students, professionals, and other classes of test-takers stay at home which led to better preparations, and it was reflected in the overall scores of test-takers. International students did exceptionally well when it came to admissions at top B-schools in the US. 
  • list items Another factor that immensely contributed to the rise in GMAT scores is the GMAC's recent score cancellation changes. So, only those test-takers who did well in the exam will be submitting their scores. This will mean that the overall scores will certainly increase. 
  • list items The panic in 2020 was clearly evident in B-schools too. They didn’t have any idea as to how long this pandemic will continue, so they broadened the admission base. Now that there are ample applicants for the test, it becomes very clear that with narrowed admission criteria the scores will go up. 
  • list items The travel restrictions and closing of international borders also opened up the floodgates which meant more applicants with better scores. 
  • list items Adoption of work from home, and flexible working hours by most companies motivated professionals to go for an MBA. This also contributed to the increased GMAT scores. 
  • list items The introduction of new courses in the post-pandemic era, and the sudden increase in digital footprints also motivated test-takers to go for the GMAT. 
  • list items The GMAT optional policy has also enabled B-schools to select students from a considerably large pool of applicants. Thus a direct bearing on the GMAT scores. 
  • list items Now that many B-schools also consider the GRE for admissions, the completion for GMAT test-takers will increase for sure. It is also a big contributor to the increase in GMAT scores in 2021. To get more insights on How to Decide Between GRE and GMAT?, click here.
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What’s the GMAT score trend in 2021?

 Tennessee-Knoxville (Haslam) 

680

627

53

Utah (Eccles)

655

629

26

USC (Marshall)

716

692

24

SMU (Cox)

686

662

24

NYU (Stern)

729

710

19

Duke (Fuqua)

713

695

18

Georgia (Terry)

665

647

18

Miami

656

639

17

Rice (Jones)

705

690

15

Michigan (Ross)

722

708

14

 

The real picture of GMAT scores can only be assessed when we do thorough analysis with respect to previous trends. Just six years back the scores weren’t that high but in 2021 the increased scores made us do this comparison to bring a more clear picture for you. As a test taker you must analyse the scoring trend to assess the amount of effort you have to put in, and other factors which contribute to the increase in scores. 

The GMAT score levels for top B-schools in the US have seen an upward trend in the last six years. For instance, the NYU Stern School of  Business has witnessed an increase in GMAT scores from 710 in 2016 to 729 in 2021. The rise in GMAT scores at Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee is truly unprecedented as the scores raised from 627 in 2016 to 680 in 2021. A similar trend has been noticed at top business schools from other countries too.

However, there is another trend wherein the GMAT scores level have decreased in the last six years. Many B-schools have witnessed a steep decline in the GMAT scores. For instance, the Eli Broad College of Business at the Michigan State University had the GMAT score requirement of 670 in 2016 which fell to 650 in 2021. A similar drop has been witnessed in other B-schools too. But on average, there is a rise in the GMAT score post-2016 at top B-schools across the globe. 

Read Also:-

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What’s the year-on-year trend in GMAT scores post 2016 in the US’s business schools?

 

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

Score change 2021-19

Score change 2017-21

Stanford GSB

738

733

734

732

737

5

1

Chicago (Booth)

732

724

730

731

730

8

8

Penn (Wharton)

733

722

732

732

730

11

7

Northwestern (Kellogg)

727

727

730

732

732

No Change

-5

 Harvard Business School 

730

730

730

730

729

No Change

1

MIT (Sloan)

730

720

727

728

722

10

NA

Columbia

729

726

727

732

724

3

5

Dartmouth (Tuck)

724

720

723

722

722

4

2

 

The year-on-year trend is pretty sporadic in nature and there is no instrumental difference in the last five years in top B-schools. While in some cases there are some changes, this doesn’t mean that there is any need to worry about the recent trends in the GMAT score. 

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2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

Score change 2021-19

Score change 2017-21

INSEAD

708

706

709

711

712

2

-4

London Business School

708

700

701

707

708

8

Even

Cambridge (Judge)

690

687

691

693

695

3

-5

HEC Paris

690

690

690

691

691

Even

-1

IESE Business School

690

670

681

686

690

20

Even

Oxford (Said)

690*

680*

690*

681

692

10*

NA

IMD

680

680

680

680

676

Even

4

Mannheim

675

680

675

678

677

-5

-2

ESADE

660

669

660

665

665

-9

-5

 Warwick Business School 

650

661

660

654

661

-11

-11

 

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The European business school has also witnessed a similar trend wherein you might have to score more than what they would have five years back. Even in European business schools, there is no uniformity in this regard, and in some top B-schools, you have to score less than what you had to score five years back. For instance, the GMAT score trend for INSEAD is pretty interesting as the two-year trend shows that there has been an increase of 2 points in the required GMAT scores while the five-year trend shows a decrease of 5 points in the scores. So, there is a lot of variation even within the EU wherein students should carefully observe the scoring trend at top B-schools, and then go for it.