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GMAT and our own NMAT will co-exist happily: Sangeet Chowfla

Q&A with President & CEO, GMAC

M Saraswathy  |  Mumbai 

Sangeet Chowfla

Admission Council (GMAC) has made it first ever acquisition of a test asset in the world by assuming ownership and of the conducted from Studies (NMIMS).

In an interview with M Saraswathy, Sangeet Chowfla, President & CEO, GMAC talks about the rationale behind this agreement and the way forward for GMAC. Excerpts:

GMAC already has GMAT (Graduate Admission Test) under its ambit. What was the reason behind taking over NMAT?

We have been looking at the domestic market in India and have realised that the market for entrance tests is fragmented. There are number of examinations that are conducted and these tests are primarily for the objective of elimination. They are not inclusive and many including women check-out of the system since they feel that they have no chance of getting in.

The goal was to enable students from diverse backgrounds and specialisation to have access to the schools. For this, you needed a multi-school assessment system test that would measure whether a candidate was suited for a particular classroom environment. We wanted to transfer our assessment capacity to the growth and professionalisation of tests.

GMAT and 'NMAT by GMAC' will co-exist happily. If you wish to study abroad, GMAT is the right exam and if are looking at studying at an Indian institute, then 'NMAT by GMAC' will be the appropriate test.

Why not or CAT which is more widely used among institutes in India?

NMIMS developed the NMAT and it is psychometric technique based and also diverse than the other tests in the Indian market. It may not be perfect but is better than the other rests and already six other business schools have said that they will accept the 'NMAT by GMAC' scores.

The CAT is developed for the IIMs and not necessarily for the private business schools. It is also a test of elimination and doesn't provide access to a diverse candidate pool. Further, NMAT has double the number of female candidates taking the test than that of CAT.

What are the changes that will be made to 'NMAT by GMAC'?

'NMAT by GMAC' is a perfect example of the call for 'Make in India' by the Indian government. This involves us investing in an existing asset in India. We have made significant investments, not just in the initial acquisition but also in the candidate marketing, physical events to explain the benefits of education in under-represented communities, especially those in the arts and undergraduate community.

GMAC plans to improve some aspects of score reporting to schools that accept the NMAT by GMAC, and will, in subsequent years, incorporate additional features that will enhance the test-taker experience.  We are presently looking into what modifications that need to be made and are working on tightening the psychometrics of the test design.

Going forward, we would look at making the scores valid for five years similar to what us available for the GMAT exam. We will continue to enhance the test, be it through a longer testing window, by having a longer validity for the scores and providing online access to the test scores for the schools. We will continue to make new investments in new testing programmes and also look at expanding 'NMAT by GMAC' into other institutes in the emerging world and not just domestically. 

Your latest survey showed that B-School alumni earn higher salaries. Will this trend continue this year as well?

Across the world, we are seeing a resurgence of and even some markets that had seen some recession have come back strong. There is a direct correlation between growth intent and hiring MBAs in companies. There is a resurgence in demand due to the global recovery in economic growth.

Further, specialised masters programmes including Masters in Studies and finance are the most popular non-course choices among students. 

Are there be any other test acquisitions on the anvil?

GMAC would be happy to find mechanisms to collaborate on other such available tests in the space. With this first formal agreement, we have shown that we are committed to be relevant to India and its education space.

With respect to GMAT test-takers, does US still feature at the top of every test-taker's mind when it comes to getting an degree?

In testing year 2014 (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014), 28,325 test takers took the test in India. There is a 12 per cent increase in the number of GMAT test takers from TY 2013 to TY 2014.

While the United States is the largest recipient of GMAT  scores, the demand for business education is high in India and China. Also, India is among the top three favoured destinations for by the GMAT test takers. In fact, Indian students have even began to apply to Chinese institutes, a trend that was not seen earlier.

First Published: Wed, March 11 2015. 12:31 IST