Thursday, October 04, 2012

GMAT Council plans to attract more aspirants

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), wants to increase its base of test takers in India by attracting undergraduate students to appear for the examination. Traditionally, GMAT, a standardised test to help business schools select qualified applicants, has been popular with candidates with more than four years of work experience, and undergraduates have largely kept away from taking GMAT.

“Undergraduates typically do not write the GMAT in large numbers. If they write the exam, they do so for banking the score—which is valid for five years. We are trying to inform them they can go for a masters programme right after graduation. We are trying to broaden the perspective of the audience, and thus working with undergraduates,” said Ashish Bhardwaj, Regional Director, South Asia, GMAC.

Bhardwaj says over the last decade, most of the top business schools internationally have launched masters programme in various streams, including management, accounting, financial accounting, telecom management, health care, hospitality, etc. This one year masters programme prepares one for a functional job.

“This particular set up of offering enjoys a very limited awareness in India. Therefore, we think we can make more information flow to candidates and inform their choices by telling them that they can straight away go for a masters programme after graduation,” says Bhardwaj.

GMAC has so far worked with around 16 undergraduate colleges, and the council says the response has been good. Another focus area for the council, says Bhardwaj, is to get more women candidates to take GMAT. In India, only 26 per cent GMAT takers are women, whereas in China, it is 58 per cent. GMAC wishes to take the number of Indian woman test takers to around 40 per cent in the next five years.

“We think women are very important. We are struggling to find out how to get more women in India to take GMAT. We are looking at ways on how to reach out to women. One way is to go to women only undergraduate college,” says Bhardwaj.

With nearly 80 per cent of Indians preferring an MBA education, an important test taker group for GMAC are candidates from the non-traditional undergraduate background, like lawyers, doctors, ex-defence officers, etc. The council says it is looking at ways to create more diversity in a class. “Not just business schools, but recruiters too want more diversity,” says Bhardwaj.

After the US and China, India is the third biggest market for GMAT. The council says it sees the most dramatic growth for itself in the Asian region. “Asia is clearly going to be a growth area for us in the near future. Given the demographic dividend in the region and the growth of management education, we see the growth continuing for us,” added Bhardwaj.

GMAT exam volume for the 2012 testing year (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012), was up 11 per cent from the previous year. This was also eight per cent higher than the previous record of 265,613 in 2009.

Chinese test takers, the second-largest citizenship group after the US, represented 20 per cent of global testing. In 2012, the number of exams taken by Chinese citizens increased 45 per cent to 58,196 exams. Indian citizens, the third-largest citizenship group, took 30,213 GMAT exams, a figure that increased 19 per cent in 2012.

GMAC’s India office looks at the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) market. Within this area, India alone is 96 per cent of the market. “So, it’s needless to say our time will go in developing the India market,” says Bhardwaj. Around 175 programmes in India accept GMAT. The Council is focusing only on top 200 business schools in India.

With an investment of over $4 million in the India market so far, the Council is also looking at opening a few more new test centres in the country.

Source: Business Standard, October 4, 2012

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