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How the GRE Is Trying to Win the Standardized Test Wars

The GRE’s administrator wants to tap into the lucrative MBA market
People visit the booth of Education Testing Service to get information about TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) during the 2014 China International Education Exhibition in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 1, 2014.

People visit the booth of Education Testing Service to get information about TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) during the 2014 China International Education Exhibition in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 1, 2014.

Photographer: Imaginechina/AP Images

Once upon a time, the only way for prospective MBAs to have a shot at a business degree was to take the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT. It didn’t matter which business school you wound up in: To get there you had to, among other requirements, pay the test fee to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which owns the exam, and answer quantitative questions like “If r•s≠0, then what is the value of r/s + s/r?”

Then, nine years ago, business school applicants around the world started taking the Graduate Record Examinations, a test traditionally used for nonprofessional graduate degree programs—such as a master of arts or international affairs—and administered by the Educational Testing Service. From 1954 to 2006, ETS was also under contract to run the GMAT. In 2006, after the contract came up for renewal, GMAC turned the test over to Pearson, an educational publisher, and ACT, which runs a standardized test for high school students applying to college.