India is a country with a population of over 1.2 billion people (as per that last census conducted in 2011). Of these 1.2 billion, approximately 0.1% of the population appears for the exam that is the gateway to the highly venerable management institutes of the country - the IIMs. Of these 0.1% of the applicants, only 1% are shortlisted to fill the PGP seats across the 20 IIMs across the country. A few hundred more fill-up the seats at other top non-IIM management institutes, while the rest kill their dreams of joining an elite management institute and end up joining B-schools that may be subpar in terms of pedagogy and/or placements, or decide to give the exam another shot and hope that lady luck smiles upon them. However, there is an option which Indian MBA aspirants fail to take cognizance of while they're putting on their shoes to run the IIM race - pursuing an MBA abroad.
So what is the process by which you can get admission to some of the world's top management institutes? What is the level of competition when it comes to internationally recognised exams? What is the scope of management education when compared to India? What are the selection criteria of business schools in North America, Europe, and Oceania and Asia? And how do you even apply to these B-schools?
To help you answer these questions, InsideIIM brings to you a series of guides to allow you to better understand the scope of management education outside of India.
We begin with understanding some basics about the various moving parts of taking admission into a foreign business school.
You can click on any of the hyperlinks to jump to that part of the report.
Part 1 - Understanding The Difference Between MBA and Masters in Management: Are MiM and MBA degrees more-or-less the same? Do both degrees present the same career opportunities? If not, what is the distinction between the two? This part of the report answers all these questions by comparing the two.
Part 2 - The Exams: In this part, we take a look at the major exams that you need to take if you wish to take admission into a business school abroad.
Part 3 - Comparison of Exam Difficulty With CAT: Are these globally recognised entrance exams easier, more difficult, or at par with Indian MBA entrance exams like CAT? We compare CAT with GMAT and GRE to assess the level of difficulty of the latter.
Part 4 - The Top B-Schools: Which are the top management institutes of the world? Which B-schools should be your ultimate targets? Take a look at the Financial Times' Global MBA Rankings for 2019.
Part 5 - Profiles of Batches At Top B-Schools Abroad: Here, we take a look at the general differences in the batch profiles of business schools abroad and in India.
Difference Between MBA and Masters in Management (MiM)
Before delving deeper into the scope of management education abroad, it is important to understand the distinction between an MBA and a Masters in Management. At the outset, these two programmes may seem similar or substitutes of each other, but are in fact completely distinct in their approach to management education, career opportunities, compensation etc.
|MBA||Masters in Management|
|A generic management degree that targets a holistic understanding of all domains pertinent to business and enterprise management.||A specialised management degree that targets specific domains such as Marketing, Operations, Accounting etc.|
|Most B-schools abroad offering MBA degrees require a minimum of 2 years of work experience in order to be eligible for the programme.||Freshers can apply for this programme at business schools abroad.|
|This programme is ideal for experienced professionals looking to advance in their careers and take up leadership roles.||This programme is ideal for those looking to start their careers in a management and leadership position, without gaining corporate experience|
|The learning process is more application oriented and less theoretical.||The learning process is more theoretical and less application-oriented.|
|MBA graduates compete for higher-level roles as compared to MiM graduates.||The type of job roles that MiM graduates compete for is not at the same level as that of their MBA counter-parts.|
|The average MBA salaries are higher than the average MiM salaries.||MiM graduates' salaries, while handsome, are not at the same level as that of an MBA graduate.|
|MBA graduates earn significantly more than MiM graduates in Europe and the US.||MiM graduates earn salaries equal to or more than experienced MBA graduates in Asia-Pacific and Latin American countries.|
|The demand for MBA graduates is higher than MiM graduates in the US.||The demand for MiM graduates is higher than MBAs outside of the United States.|
|Globally, companies are more likely to bring in MBA interns as compared to MiM interns.||Globally, companies are less likely to bring in MiM interns as compared to MBA interns.|
|4 in 5 companies across the globe are likely to hire MBA graduates. Overall, larger companies are more likely to hire MBA graduates, especially in Asia-Pacific and the United States.||Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies are looking to increase their hiring of MiM graduates. Overall, larger companies are more likely to hire MiM graduates, especially in Asia-Pacific and Europe.|
|Most Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 global companies are more likely to offer internships to MBA students.||Smaller companies (less than 100 employees) are more likely to hire MiM interns as compared to MBA interns.|
|MBA graduates are more likely to be placed in Strategic roles as compared to MiM graduates. MBA graduates are more likely to be hired in specialist roles than generalist roles.||MiM graduates are more likely to be placed in specialised roles than generalist roles, but are less preferred for strategic roles when compared to MBAs.|
Therefore, it becomes clear that MBA and MiM degrees are distinct from each other and must not be considered as substitutes for one another. Experienced professionals may opt for an MBA over an MiM degree, although the former costs significantly higher than the latter. For freshers, MiM degrees are recommended since business schools and universities offering this programme do not require work experience as a prerequisite.
In terms of duration of the programmes, both programmes can be of either 1 or 2 years, depending upon the university/business school.
Both the programmes require GMAT/GRE scores, depending upon the university/institute offering either of the programmes. But what exactly is the difference between GMAT and GRE, and what is the paper pattern for both?
In the next part of this guide, we take a look at two of the most popular and recognised exams for getting admission to a B-school abroad - GMAT and GRE.
Exam Scores Accepted By Foreign Business Schools
There are two major exams the scores of which are accepted by global business schools - GMAT and GRE, and are crucial if you wish to pursue an MBA abroad. There are also business schools abroad that accept CAT scores, but those are only a handful. But what are these exams all about, and what is the difficulty level when compared with CAT?
Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an adaptive online aptitude test that globally recognised and the scores of which are accepted by the top universities and institutes of the world. Along with GRE, it is one of the major aptitude exams that is a minimum requirement for admissions to foreign business schools (even for domiciles).
Important points to note about GMAT:
- The GMAT costs $250 dollars per attempt.
- The maximum number of marks in GMAT is 800. It is important to note that these marks are only for the Verbal Ability and Quantitative Ability section, and the AWT and Integrated Reasoning section marks are counted separately.
- Your GMAT scores will be valid for 5 years from the day of the exam.
- You can attempt GMAT once every 16-days, and a maximum of 5 times in 12 months.
- The number of questions per section vary from year to year, but don't expect any drastic changes.
- The GMAT score calculation algorithm and sectional weightage is not available in the public domain, so it impossible to understand the exact scoring mechanism of the exam, although it can be deciphered that questions of higher difficulty carry more number of marks.
GMAT Paper Pattern
GMAT has 4 sections:
- Analytical Writing
- Integrated Reasoning
- Verbal Ability
- Quantitative Ability
|GMAT Latest Paper Pattern|
|Analytical Writing||Integrated Reasoning||Verbal Reasoning||Quantitative Reasoning|
|Time per Section||30 minutes||30 minutes||65 minutes||62 minutes|
|Questions per Section (variable from year to year)||1||12||36||32|
|Negative Marking||There is no negative marking in GMAT.|
|Additional Time||GMAT test-takers get two 8 minute breaks. The first break is after the Integrated Reasoning section, and the second break is after the QA section.|
Other important points to know:
- GMAT is an adaptive test, i.e., the level of difficulty depends on the answers you give. For instance, with each question you answer correctly, the next question will be a shade more difficult than the previous set of questions. The opposite is also true.
- You cannot skip any questions in GMAT. Only after submitting an answer can you move on to the next question.
- An on-screen calculator will be made available only for the Integrated Reasoning section.
- Out of all the questions in GMAT, some of the questions are experimental, i.e., they do not carry any marks. However, these will not be known to you while attempting the exam.
- You can choose the order of sections that you will attempt in GMAT.
- Your GMAT scores for Verbal Ability and Quantitative Ability will be immediately available on your screen once you have completed the exam. You will also receive a formal score card on your e-mail address, with your overall and sectional percentile as well as raw scores.
Read more about the latest GMAT paper pattern.
The details around the registration process and sectional syllabus of GMAT will be shared soon in another post on preparing for GMAT, where we will also list out the various resources and exam strategies that you can adopt to crack the exam.
Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is an adaptive online aptitude test that is globally recognised and the scores of which are accepted by top universities and institutes abroad. Along with GMAT, it is one of the most popularly taken exams to gain entry into the various programmes of prestigious institutes, including business schools, where it is a minimum requirement to have a valid GRE score (even for domiciles).
Important points to note about GRE:
- The GRE costs $205 per attempt.
- The maximum number of questions varies from year to year, but is generally in the range of 80 questions overall for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections.
- Your GRE score is valid for a total of 5 years from the date of the exam.
- The maximum number of marks in GRE is 340. It is important to note that these marks are only for the Verbal Ability and Quantitative Ability section, and the AWT section is scored on a scale of 0-6 separately.
- You can attempt GRE a total of 5 times in 12 months, with a gap of 21-days or 3 weeks between two consecutive exams.
- The number of questions per section vary from year to year, but don't expect any drastic changes.
- The GRE score calculation algorithm and sectional weightage is not available in the public domain, so it impossible to understand the exact scoring mechanism of the exam, although it can be deciphered that questions of higher difficulty carry more number of marks.
GRE Paper Pattern
GRE consists of 6 sections:
- Analytical Writing (2 sections)
- Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)
- Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections)
|GRE Latest Paper Pattern|
|Analytical Writing||Verbal Reasoning||Quantitative Reasoning|
|Number of sections||2||2||2|
|Time per Section||30+30=60||30+30=60||35+35=70|
|Questions per Section (variable)||1+1=2||20+20=40||20+20=40|
|Maximum Marks per Section||6||-||-|
|Additional Time||Between each section of GRE, you get a 1 minute break. After the 3rd section, you get a 10-minute break.|
Other important points to know:
- The GRE, like GMAT, is an adaptive test. However, in the case of GRE, it is not the difficulty of individual questions but the entire section that is changed depending on how you attempt the previous corresponding section. For instance, if you breeze through the first Quantitative Reasoning section, the second section is likely to be tougher than the previous one. Therefore, the GRE is adaptive between sections, while GMAT is adaptive between questions.
- You cannot choose the order of sections in GRE, and they may appear in any order. The Analytical Writing section is an exception to this, which will always appear first in the exam.
- You can skip questions in GRE.
- An on-screen calculator will be available for the Quantitative Reasoning sections.
- Your scores will be immediately available once you have completed the exam. You will also be sent a formal scorecard on your e-mail address with your score and your percentile.
Read more about the latest GRE paper pattern.
Experimental Section - The GRE Googly
There is also an experimental section in GRE, which is completely unscored. That means, instead of 2 sections each in Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, you will attempt 3 sections of either QR or VR, but not both. So, in total, you will have 7 sections instead of 6. It is also not neccessary that you will receive an Experimental Section in your test, but it is likely. The score of the Experimental Section is meaningless, and will not be added to your final score.
ETS, the international body that conducts GRE, gives this experimental section because it wants to test the difficulty level of questions that it has created, which it may not be able to do via other means. However, since you don't know which section is the Experimental Section, you must attempt all sections with the same level of dedication and confidence.
The details around the registration process and sectional syllabus of GRE will be shared soon in another post on preparing for GMAT, where we will also list out the various resources and exam strategies that you can adopt to crack the exam.
Important note - When it comes to GRE, some business schools have different weight for the two sections - VA and QA. Therefore, sectional scores are of paramount importance if you want to increase the bandwidth of business schools that may admit you.
Comparison of Difficulty Level Of GMAT/GRE With CAT & Non-CAT Exams
CAT, GMAT and GRE, in terms of their paper pattern and difficulty, are similar yet unique in their own way. However, keeping all components in mind, CAT is a much more complex test that requires a lot more preparation when compared to its globally recognised counterparts. All three sections in CAT are equally, if not more demanding than GMAT and GRE.
I. Quantitative Ability
For a CAT aspirant, both GRE and GMAT could be a walk in the park for those strong in Quantitative Ability. Both GMAT and GRE test the very basics of your Quantitative aptitude, and none of the QA questions in either of the two tests are overly complex or unfathomable.
For instance, in the GRE question paper, basic questions on Arithmetic, Algebra, Modern Math, Geometry and Mensuration are asked. To draw an analogy, the level of questions in either of the two tests is similar to LOD 1 of Arun Sharma's popular book on Quantitative Ability for CAT. However, there are some googlies that the exams can throw at you in terms of difficulty and conceptual clarity. Additionally, the topic 'Statistics' is also an additional chapter from which questions feature regularly in GMAT and GRE, when compared to CAT.
Between GMAT and GRE, the only difference is that GMAT consists of Data Sufficiency format of questions as well, often found in many Indian MBA entrance exams.
Overall, if you are preparing for CAT and have covered 90% of all QA topics with a fair amount of confidence, both GMAT and GRE will not present any formidable challenge to you.
II. Verbal Ability, Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension
VA, Vocabulary and RC in GMAT and GRE are where most aspirants stumble due to the challenging nature of the questions. Here is why:
A) GMAT vs CAT - The Verbal section of GMAT tests the following skills:
- Sentence Correction.
- Reading Comprehension.
- Critical Reasoning.
GMAT tests an advanced level of understanding when it comes to these 3 concepts. On the other hand, the modern pattern of CAT tests your reading comprehension, sentence completion and paragraph structuring skills, and has little to do with sentence correction and critical reasoning.
B) GRE vs CAT - The Verbal section of GRE tests the following skills:
- Contextual Vocabulary
- Reading Comprehension
- Critical Reasoning
The VA of CAT and GRE is starkly different, even when it comes to Reading Comprehension. The format of questions in GRE's RC require you to often select an answer to a question within the essay itself, while in CAT the questions are more MCQ-oriented. Apart from that, GRE also tests contextual vocabulary, i.e., fitting the most logically consistent and relevant words in sentences to complete the sentence and give it some meaning. The vocabulary tested in GRE is tough, but not insurmountable.
Overall, both GMAT and GRE have elements quite different from that of CAT and most non-CAT exams. Therefore, additional effort in the Verbal section is imperative if you want to crack either of these exams.
III. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
GRE, GMAT and CAT have Data Interpretation questions, but only CAT has a Logical Reasoning section that tests a candidate's logical thinking and mathematical application of concepts wherever required. GMAT also has the Integrated Reasoning Section, where qualitative analysis of given data is tested.
The level of DI in GRE and GMAT is much less complex when compared with that of CAT.
The Best Foreign B-Schools - Global MBA Rankings
Rankings are a good starting point to understand the perception and brand value of a business school, in order to begin further research about only those institutes and universities that enjoy a certain repute and admiration for their superior management education, and to get a fair understanding of the leading business schools across the various countries of the world.
|Financial Times Global MBA Rankings - 2019 - Top 50 Business Schools - InsideIIM MBA Abroad|
|Rank||Business School||Country||Rank||Business School||Country|
|1||Stanford Graduate School of Business||Stanford, US||26||UCLA: Anderson||Los Angeles, US|
|2||Harvard Business School||Boston, US||27||Cornell University: Johnson||New York, US|
|3||INSEAD||France / Singapore||28||University of Michigan: Ross||Ann Arbor, US|
|4||University of Pennsylvania: Wharton||Philadelphia, US||29||Georgetown University: McDonough||Washington D.C,
|5||CEIBS||Beijing, China||30||Nanyang Business School, NTU Singapore||Singapore|
|6||London Business School||London, UK||31||IE Business School||Madrid, Spain|
|7||University of Chicago: Booth||Illinois, US||31||SDA Bocconi||Milan, Italy|
|8||MIT: Sloan||Cambridge, US||33||Indian Institute of Management Bangalore||Bangalore, India|
|9||Columbia Business School||New York, US||34||Fudan University School of Management||Shanghai, China|
|10||University of California at Berkeley: Haas||Berkeley, US||35||Carnegie Mellon: Tepper||Pittsburgh, US|
|11||Yale School of Management||Connecticut, US||36||Warwick Business School||Coventry, UK|
|12||IESE Business School||Barcelona, Spain||37||University of Texas at Austin: McCombs||Austin, US|
|13||University of Oxford: Saïd||Oxford, UK||38||Emory University: Goizueta||Atlanta, US|
|14||Northwestern University: Kellogg||Illinois, US||39||University of Florida: Warrington||Gainesville, US|
|15||Dartmouth College: Tuck||Hanover, US||39||Imperial College Business School||London, UK|
|16||University of Cambridge: Judge||Cambridge, UK||41||University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong, China|
|17||National University of Singapore Business School||Singapore||42||Sungkyunkwan University GSB||Seoul, South Korea|
|18||HKUST Business School||Hong Kong, China||43||Singapore Management University: Lee Kong Chian||Singapore|
|19||HEC Paris||Jouy-en-Josas, France||43||Indiana University: Kelley||Bloomington, US|
|19||Duke University: Fuqua||Durham, US||43||Durham University Business School||Durham, UK|
|21||ESADE Business School||Barcelona, Spain||46||University of Southern California: Marshall||Los Angeles, US|
|22||IMD Business School||Lausanne, Switzerland||47||Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad||India|
|23||University of Virginia: Darden||Charlottesville, US||48||University of California at Irvine: Merage||Irvine, US|
|24||Indian School of Business||Hyderabad, India||49||University of Washington: Foster||Seattle, US|
|25||New York University: Stern||New York, US||49||Indian Institute of Management Calcutta||Calcutta, India|
Out of all the management institutes in the world, these 50 business schools are the targets of MBA aspirants across the globe, simply for the batch diversity, placements, pedagogy, brand value, peer learning, networking opportunities and international exposure that they have to offer. These are also some of the most difficult institutes to get into, as the screening process is highly rigorous, especially as you ascend upwards into the list.
General Profile of Batches
When one takes a look at the batches of various business schools in India, the numbers are quite distinct from that of the batches in B-schools abroad. While Indian business schools admit freshers (and a large percentage of them), batches at business schools offering MBA degrees wholely comprise experienced professionals. The work experience at business schools in India ranges between 0-5 years, with an Indian MBA student having average work experience of 2 years.
In contrast, the average work experience at B-schools abroad ranges between 2-6 years, due to the emphasis on work experience. In fact, it is not uncommon to find students at foreign business schools with 8-10 years of work experience.
As a result of the emphasis on work experience, as can be expected, the average age of an MBA batch abroad is much higher as compared to much younger batches in Indian business schools. At B-schools abroad, the average age hovers around 27-28 years, while in India that number goes down to an estimated 22-24 years (anecdotal figures).
There is also a distinction when it comes to diversity in the MBA batches. In fact, the meaning of diversity is also distinct. In India, for instance, diversity is largely related to academic backgrounds and gender. However, abroad, diversity also includes the international diversity, i.e., the percentage of international students studying in a particular business school. In addition to this, gender, academic, and work experience diversity is also given emphasis by the admissions team at foreign business schools.
Another element of the batch profile is the average GMAT and GRE scores at top business schools. GMAT scores at top business schools abroad are in the range of 650-800 (yes, a perfect 800), while GRE scores range between 300 and 340, with the median sectional scores usually above 160 for each section.
Now that you have understood the gist of management education abroad - specifically about an MBA abroad - we can now move on to the actual processes and a general timeline pertinent to admissions at a B-school abroad. Read more about the admissions process here.
By the way, here are some interesting articles for further reading that can help improve your understanding of an MBA abroad:
What else would you be interested in knowing about pursuing an MBA abroad? Let us know your suggestions in the comments!