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Rise Of GRE Acceptance In Indian B-schools

GMAT quant is tougher than GRE, while GRE verbally is slightly more demanding. Depending on their strengths and weaknesses, this might help students decide in which exam they are likely to score higher

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The GMAT exam has been ruling the MBA landscape for as long as people can remember; however, within the last 7 years, the GRE has jumped from being accepted in 24 per cent of b-schools to an incredible 92 per cent worldwide. This trend has made its way to India as well.

GRE scores are now accepted in a wide range of b-schools in India, including at ISB and IIMs. ISB started accepting GRE scores in 2016 alongside GMAT scores and this has given rise to a lot of questions from students. The truth is that acceptance of GRE for b-schools is a fairly recent phenomenon even at American schools. In the first few years, there was a lot of confusion on how to assess an applicant with a GRE score alongside one with a GMAT score. Now that Indian b-schools have started accepting GRE scores the confusion of comparison has come tagging along.

GMAT has always been the exam one takes to apply for a b-school anywhere in the world. In 2011, a new section, Integrated Reasoning was introduced especially to make it more effective in assessing the kind of aptitude one would be needing in management programs. GMAT, in its present form, is an applicant's b-school compatibility check. The GRE, on the other hand, is a more generic exam that students had been giving to get into Master's programs of various disciplines. It is an effective test of a student's aptitude for maths and his command of the English language.

So, when GRE is not designed to be a test for management programs and GMAT is, why is the GRE being increasingly accepted at B-schools? As Brian Cartlidge of Kaplan Test Prep puts it," GRE has now become a mainstream, established the way to attract more applicants."

Let's take a look at Indian School of Business (ISB)
The number of students admitted to ISB has increased from 345 to 908 in the last 10 years. The threefold increase in the number of admitted students has presented a very important problem for the Institute - maintaining the quality of admitted students.

To get some clarity on how this quality can be maintained let's look at what educational institutes call the Acceptance rate,

Acceptance rate = Number of people who are offered / Number of applicants to the program X 100

In order to keep the acceptance rates the same in 2017, ISB would need three times the applicant pool to choose from, compared to the applicant pool as it stood in 2006. Acceptance rate correlates directly to the quality of the students accepted.

In India, every year 4 students appear for GRE compared to one GMAT test taker. Hence the move of opening up the gates to GRE test takers greatly increases applicant pool.

This recent evolution in the b-school environment is making a lot of students look at GRE as an easier way into a b-school, however, that is mostly a misconception.The truth is that it completely depends on the individual student's strengths and weaknesses. Both exams involve early-high-school-level math, rely heavily on reading comprehension, and require essay-writing at the beginning of the test. The only clear difference is that GMAT tests students on data interpretation in a way that the GRE doesn't, on its Integrated Reasoning section.

There is a widely held view, that GMAT quant is tougher than GRE, while GRE verbally is slightly more demanding. Depending on their strengths and weaknesses, this might help students decide in which exam they are likely to score higher.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Arun Jagannathan

The author is CEO, crackverbal

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