One American ‘industry’ has certainly managed to beat the downturn. Standardised American tests like Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are still gaining in popularity.
Scores attained in these tests are a qualifying criterion for admission to most universities in the US and, increasingly, in other countries.
Contrary to its December projections, US-based Educational Testing Service or ETS, which administers TOEFL and GRE, now claims registrations for these tests remain “strong” and “steady”.
Earlier, citing the downturn, ETS had projected a 25 per cent drop in registrations — 55,000 in 2008, as against 74,000 the year before.
“While we cannot provide specific volumes for proprietary reasons, we can say that registrations for TOEFL in India remain strong despite the economic downturn. GRE trends also remain steady. For TOEFL, we had nearly a million test registrations worldwide in 2008, and so far, in 2009, we are tracking ahead of last year,” said Gena Netten, Senior
Marketing Manager, TOEFL, ETS.
In a new trend, a large number of professionals affected by the downturn are enrolling for these tests.
The India representative of a large study-abroad company claimed enquiries for GRE and GMAT had grown 25-30 per cent, of which 8 per cent came from the scam-hit Satyam. Overall, the representative said, there had been a 20 per cent increase in professionals enrolling for the test courses between October and December 2008.
The company’s Managing Director Araddhana K Mahna said GRE registrations rose 20-25 per cent during October-December, in Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Vineet Gupta, Director of an admission services company with 11 centres, also said, “The GRE figure is up 30 per cent, except in Chandigarh, where the rise is about 10-15 per cent.”
However, Gupta said, demand for GMAT was not growing so fast anymore. “Against 40-50 per cent in the first six months of 2008, it grew 20-25 per cent across our centres in October-December.”