Carlson now accepts GRE scores for MBA program

Previously, applicants’ only option was to take the GMAT.

Carlson now accepts GRE scores for MBA program

Megan Nicolai

Starting Tuesday, the Carlson School of Management will allow prospective students to submit GRE test scores for their MBA program.

The change follows a national trend of business schools trying to make the application process simpler and more accessible for prospective students.

Previously, students applying to Carlson SchoolâÄôs MBA programs could only submit GMAT scores âÄî a standardized test that has been the yardstick for business school admissions for decades. But an increasing number of students pursuing dual master degrees and an emerging national trend pushed the school to provide the second option.

âÄúWe have a fair number of students with dual degrees. We really like to have these students; they bring some rich diversity to our program,âÄù said Art Hill, professor and associate dean of MBA programs at Carlson School.

Both tests measure similar skills and subjects, and are made up of a writing section, a quantitative section and a verbal section. Students are tested on algebra, geometry, basic arithmetic and data interpretation as well.

The standard fee to take the GMAT is $250, whereas the GRE cost $160.

 With the change, admissions officers can take a studentâÄôs GRE scores and use a formula to predict their projected GMAT score.

âÄúWeâÄôre trying to make it easier for people to apply to our program, but weâÄôre not lowering our standards,âÄù Hill said. âÄúOur standards are extremely high. WeâÄôre at the 90th percentile for the GMAT, and our GRE levels will be the same.âÄù

The percentage of schools that have made the switch has increased nationally in just the past three years, said Andrew Mitchell, assistant director of pre-business programs at Kaplan Test Prep center.

In 2009, only 24 percent of business schools accepted the GRE. In 2010, that number rose again to 39 percent, and topped off at 52 percent this year. Kaplan, which provides courses and materials to students studying for either test, conducts the survey of admissions officials at more than 265 business schools nationally, Mitchell said.

But relatively few applicants are submitting GRE scores so far. Mitchell said it was likely that few students knew about the option, or believed that submitting a GMAT score was a âÄústatement of seriousnessâÄù in seeking a graduate business degree. While many of the top business schools in the nation do accept the GRE, several, like the University of ChicagoâÄôs Booth program still require a GMAT score.

The Carlson School will accept GRE scores for both the full-time and part-time MBA programs, but students still need to submit a GMAT score to receive scholarships for the full-time program, Hill said.

Abou Amara, president of the UniversityâÄôs Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, welcomes the change, especially as an aid to students seeking a dual degree.

âÄúItâÄôs becoming very common for students to pursue dual-degree programs,âÄù Amara said. âÄúIt feeds into whatâÄôs going on already with a lot of students considering multiple graduate or professional degrees.âÄù

Amara also said allowing a GRE score for admissions may diversify the prospective student population for Carlson School, meaning students will be able to draw on diverse backgrounds to solve problems both in classes and their future careers.

âÄúWhatever sector youâÄôre in, youâÄôre going to need people who can critically think, who can think in an interdisciplinary fashion,âÄù Amara said. âÄúThe skills that are needed transcend any one test, and there are multiple ways to measure that.âÄù

A competitive curve

A major revision to the GRE test launched Aug. 1, with new scores not expected until November. Test administrators scrapped many vocabulary-based questions, focusing instead on reading comprehension âÄî similar to the GMATâÄôs setup. The GRE changes were likely motivated to appeal to the business school market, Mitchell said.

âÄúThe dust is still settling when it comes to the new GRE,âÄù he said.

The GMAT also plans a revision by cutting an essay and adding a section on âÄúintegrated reasoning.âÄù Students will be expected to use multiple graphics or sources to answer a question in the section, such as a spreadsheet, graphs, charts and other data sources.

âÄúThe test changes are arguably designed as a counterstrike to make the GMAT even more targeted toward business school than it currently is,âÄù Mitchell said.

Just after the new GRE was released, the GMAT administrators sped up the release of their revision to the summer of 2012.

Whether the revision of the GMAT will stop business schools from adopting the GRE in the future is still unknown, Mitchell said.

âÄúItâÄôs likely the trend will continue, but the changes to the two tests do complicate the issue a bit,âÄù he said.

Hill said the revision shouldnâÄôt affect Carlson SchoolâÄôs decision to accept the GRE.