Business school hopefuls around the world take the GMAT exam. While the exam is universal, GMAT scores by country can vary considerably. The number of test-takers also varies, with some countries having only a handful of students taking the GMAT country-wide.
Luckily, GMAC, the company that writes the GMAT, provides a report with fascinating global trends in GMAT test-taking. You can explore some of the data for yourself here. But if you want a brief round-up of some of the most fascinating trends, keep reading this blog post!
Before looking at GMAT scores by country, let’s start by looking at the trends worldwide. In testing year (TY) 2016, 261,248 people across the world sat for a GMAT exam. That’s actually less, though, than the 286,529 students who took the exam across the world in TY2012. For whatever reason, the number of people who take the GMAT has actually declined slightly in recent years.
More men than women take the exam. In TY2016, 55% of test takers were men, compared to 45% women. In TY2012, 57% of test takers were men.
The mean score in TY2016 was 558 overall, compared to 548 four years ago—an increase of 10 points!
Who’s Taking the GMAT?
Where in the world is the GMAT being taken? Looking at the data for TY2016, we can see the following:
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, the United States is home to the largest number of GMAT test takers: 83,410 in TY2016. To put that in perspective, though, that means that only about one third of all GMAT test takers live in the US.
- Behind the US in terms of test-takers is China with 70,744 and India with 33,123.
- The next largest are far behind the top three in terms of volume: Canada (6,641), Germany (4,398), Taiwan (4,105), and South Korea (4,104).
- Brunei, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Monaco, Palau and South Sudan only had one test taker country-wide in each country in all of TY2016! It must be an honor to be the one and only GMAT taker in the whole country!
- A series of countries had zero test takers in TY2016, but had some in prior years.
GMAT Scores by Country
So, which country in the world is the smartest? If you were paying attention in your Statistics 101 class, you know that GMAT scores by country aren’t going to answer that question. So don’t try it!
Besides, only certain people tend to take the GMAT, and they’re a unique group of MBA-bound people. The type of people who take the exam even varies by country. Scores on the GMAT exam would never adequately tell us anything about which country is the smartest. Don’t jump to unfounded conclusions!
With that said, a few interesting snippets of information jump out of the data:
- The highest mean GMAT score in the world goes to Bermuda, at 639. To be faithful to statistics, though, I have to caution that that mean score comes from only seven test-takers… But, for what it’s worth, it’s the highest mean score!
- The other countries getting mean scores above 600 include: New Zealand (624), Singapore (615), Australia (612), and Argentina (607).
- Three countries also came close, hitting the 590s: the United Kingdom (598), Belgium (596) and Poland (595).
- A series of countries received mean scores in the 580s.
- The United States had a mean score of 547, well below the worldwide mean of 558.
The unfortunate distinction of lowest mean GMAT score goes to Papua New Guinea, with 236. Again, keep in mind your Statistics 101 class, though! That average was based on only five test-takers, so it’s hardly statistically significant. Only two other countries had means below 300: Liberia (264) and Saudi Arabia (299).
The number of countries with a mean score in the 300s is surprisingly common, though. When looking at GMAT scores by country, 19 countries have mean GMAT scores in the 300s.
How GMAT Scores Get Used
Remember: the GMAT can be used for admissions to programs other than MBAs. Though it’s not common, students do use their GMAT scores to gain admissions to different kinds of programs, including PhDs. So while GMAT scores by country vary considerably, so do the purpose of those scores.
Worldwide in TY2016, about 65% of scores that were sent to an institution were for MBA programs. Another 32% went to non-MBA Master’s programs, and about 3% went to PhD’s. Notably, there’s a large international gender gap in this regard. Only about 55% of women sent their scores to MBA programs, compared to about 72% of men. Women were much more likely to send their scores to non-MBA Master’s programs.
Though the MBA is the favored recipient of GMAT scores internationally, that’s not true of some very large countries that take the GMAT in big numbers. In China, for example, only 23% of scores went to MBA programs. 73% went to non-MBA Master’s programs. Chinese women are particularly likely to send their scores to non-MBA Master’s. The reverse is true in India, where the MBA is even more popular than the international average. There, 85% of scores were destined for MBA programs.
Seeing the GMAT scores by country provides us with interesting data to understand how the exam is perceived and used across the world. Just remember: the country with the highest scores isn’t the smartest country, and the one with the lowest isn’t the least intelligent. GMAT scores just aren’t meant to measure that! But no matter where you’re from or what your target score is, GMAT practice definitely helps!