MBA candidates may soon have another way to strut their stuff in business school admissions.
Yale researchers who wanted to help supplement the Graduate Management Admissions Test developed a new test, which is called the Successful Intelligence Assessment.
The SIA will measure a student’s ability to acquire practical knowledge and solve practical problems.
“Our aim was to develop a supplement to the GMAT in order to tap into abilities it currently does not measure,” said Jennifer Hedlund, a Central Connecticut State University professor who was a researcher at Yale when she helped develop the test. “We chose to focus on practical skills as the initial step toward enhancing the MBA admissions process.”
The SIA had its beginnings at Yale in 1998 as a collaborative project with the University of Michigan’s business school. Hedlund and Yale psychology and education professor Robert Sternberg, who were at the forefront of the SIA’s development, said they hope the test will help business schools identify talented applicants.
“We hope that business schools will consider using a measure of practical intelligence in addition to the GMAT in order to help them better identify more well-rounded candidates who have the skills to be successful business leaders,” Hedlund said.
James Stevens, the admissions director for the Yale School of Management, said the new test would be helpful in selecting qualified candidates for admission into the MBA program.
“What’s always difficult is that strong performance on the GMAT does not necessarily translate into success in business,” he said. “We want to gauge a person’s leadership skills, motivation, problem solving abilities and other more tangible aspects, and I think the SIA may help us do that.”
Sternberg and his team are also currently working with the College Board to devise a new test that might supplement the SAT. He said this new test would have creative and practical components, as well as an analytical component.
The test for business school, which is based on Sternberg’s theory of “successful intelligence,” assesses three kinds of skills: analytical, creative and practical. The test poses a series of contemporary business problems that the student must solve.
Karen Gliwa SOM ’02 said the SIA seems to be a valid assessment of ability.
“My experience is that it takes a lot more than math skills to be a successful business student,” she said. “This seems to be the primary virtue of this test.”
But Hedlund said it could be at least several years before the SIA would come into regular use for MBA admissions.
“Our effort represents the first attempt to develop and validate a measure of practical intelligence for MBA admissions,” she said. “Although the results are very promising, the test will need to undergo further development and validation.”
If the test becomes widely available, Stevens said Yale would likely be one of the first schools to adopt it.
“If this proves to be a valid instrument, I could definitely see us being at the forefront of it,” he said. “Our small size would make it more logistically feasible for us to do.”