Wall Street Journal, On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up; High GMAT Scores From China, India Spur Separate Rankings for U.S. Students:
New waves of Indians and Chinese are taking America’s business-school entrance exam, and that’s causing a big problem for America’s prospective M.B.A.s.
Why? The foreign students are much better at the test.
Asia-Pacific students have shown a mastery of the quantitative portion of the four-part Graduate Management Admission Test. That has skewed mean test scores upward, and vexed U.S. students, whose results are looking increasingly poor in comparison. In response, admissions officers at U.S. schools are seeking new ways of measurement, to make U.S. students look better. ...
Percentile rankings are calculated using a raw score—for the quantitative section, typically between 0 and 51. In 2004, a raw score of 48 in the quantitative section yielded a ranking in the 86th percentile, according to GMAC; today, that same score would land the test-taker in the 74th percentile.
U.S. students’ raw scores on the quantitative section have remained roughly flat over the last decade at around 33, but their percentile ranking has fallen as more of their higher-scoring international counterparts take the exam. ...
The shifting data give an impression that U.S. student aptitude is declining, said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC’s chief executive officer. He said schools have complained to him that the test’s global rankings were becoming more difficult to interpret and asked for new ways to assess both U.S. and foreign test-takers separately.
To address those concerns, GMAC in September introduced a benchmarking tool that allows admissions officers to compare applicants against their own cohort, filtering scores and percentile rankings by world region, country, gender and college grade-point average. ...
Rather than effectively creating a different standard for U.S. students, one admissions officer at a top-ranked business school said American students need better math instruction, starting in elementary school. Students in South and East Asia tend to have a strong grounding in math fundamentals during school, and spend longer hours studying for the test. According to GMAC, Asia students spend an average of 151 hours in test preparation; U.S. students average 64 hours.