Archive for December, 2007

Can GMAT predict academic performance?

December 18, 2007

A study from the GISMA Business School in Hannover, Germany, has found little correlation between GMAT scores and the performance of its full-time MBA class. According to the school, “academic performance by students who had achieved modest GMAT scores in the range of 600 (out of 800 possible points) was found to be on a par with that of fellow students whose GMAT scores came in at a very good 740 points, and vice versa.”

The school did recognise that the GMAT was a reliable indicator when it came to the more quantitative subjects. However, it went on to add “for overall academic success, however, other traits also play a major role, for example leadership ability, strategic thinking, marketing and communication skills, creativity and persuasiveness – none of which are assessed by the GMAT.”

If this research is borne out, then is there a case for saying that schools put too much emphasis on GMAT scores? There have been complaints that the GMAT is culturally biased; multiple-choice questions are said to work against Asian students, in particular (this was one reason why essay questions were introduced). Furthermore the test is available only in American English.

Although many schools claim not to have a minimum GMAT requirement, there is a suspicion that most will have a de facto entry-level, not least because it is such an important component in the major rankings (the EIU, for example, gives GMAT score a 4% weighting in its full time ranking).

If anything, the number of schools requiring GMAT is likely to be extended as MBA programmes continue to sprout in countries such as China and India. But here, perhaps, is the nub. In an environment where schools are competing for students from different countries–and the product of different education systems—is a standardised test the only way of truly comparing candidates’ academic qualities?

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