对于GMAT考试的监管机构研究生入学管理委员会( Graduate Management Admission Council，下文简称GMAC)而言，这项考试的利润率甚至超过了苹果公司(Apple)的iPad平板电脑和iPhone手机。GMAC表示，它在2012年收取了8,770万美元的考试费，但美国国税局(Internal Revenue Service)的文件显示，GMAC管理这项考试的成本开支仅为4,570万美元。GMAT考试的实际毛利率大约为47.9%，比苹果公司目前的毛利率高出近11个百分点。
这家非营利性组织给予其最高领导者非常丰厚的薪酬。去年12月31日卸任的GMAC总裁大卫•威尔逊2012年获得的工资、福利和递延报酬合计1,914,845美元，是哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)院长尼廷•诺里亚2011年薪酬（66.2万美元）的3倍以上。事实上，威尔逊的薪酬远高于教育考试服务中心(Educational Testing Service，下文简称ETS)总裁库尔特•德格拉夫在同一年的收入（130万美元），而ETS的总收入要比GMAC多8倍。
Sixty years ago on Feb. 6, 1954, slightly more than 1,000 people sat down in 100 different places around the world to take a test for the very first time. It was the precursor to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the de facto entry exam to the best business schools in the world.
Back then, the 1,291 prospective students paid just $10 each to take the paper-and-pencil exam. It was offered only three times a year in five countries, and candidates had to wait three to four weeks to get their results. Only 54 business schools accepted GMAT scores at the time.
Today, the computer-adaptive GMAT costs $250 a pop and if a test taker wants the results sent to more than five schools, there's an additional $28 charge for each score report. The test is offered year round at more than 600 sites in 113 countries. Anxiety-ridden test takers receive their scores within five to seven days, and more than 2,100 schools all over the globe now require the GMAT for admission.
The growth of the test itself mirrors the spectacular rise in popularity of the MBA degree, arguably the most successful educational product of the post-war period. The credential's prosperity has made the GMAT a hot "product."
For the organization that oversees the test, the Graduate Management Admission Council, profit margins on the exam are even better than the margins Apple (AAPL) makes on the iPad and the iPhone. GMAC says it collected $87.7 million in fees in 2012, yet it cost the organization only $45.7 million to administer the test, according to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The effective gross profit on the actual exam is roughly 47.9%, nearly 11 points higher than Apple's current gross profit margins.
All told, GMAC reported that its "program service revenue" came to $92.7 million in 2012, up from $88.5 million a year earlier. The organization's "investment income" alone amounted to another $30.7 million. When you kick in other revenue, GMAC recorded total revenue in 2012 of $125.1 million, up from $92.7 million a year earlier. Though it is a non-profit and does not have to pay taxes, the organization reported a tidy $22.4 million in cash after paying all its expenses for the year.
GMAC says the expenses to administer its test do not include such things as test design, score reporting, test taker accommodations, and the cost of running its website, where test takers register for the exam. "These are all activities that are intrinsic to the delivery of the test and are not covered in those operating expenses," says Rich D'Amato, vice president of corporate communications at GMAC. "In addition, there's [a] smaller expense group around fulfilling our responsibility -- part of our being a nonprofit -- to invest in [the] promotion of graduate management education as a field of study."
The reported expenses on the test do not include another very big line item in the organization's budget: its salaries and benefits to GMAC staffers. In 2012, GMAC's total compensation amounted to $25.9 million for a staff that numbered only 141 people.
At the very top of the non-profit are some very generously paid people. David Wilson, who until Dec. 31 of last year was president of the GMAC, was paid $1,914,845 in salary, benefits, and deferred compensation in 2012, more than three times the $662,000 that Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria made in 2011. Indeed, Wilson made substantially more than Educational Testing Service President Kurt Landgraf, who was paid $1.3 million in the same year for leading an organization with total revenues that are eight times greater.
What's more, at least 15 other officials at GMAC make at least a quarter of a million dollars a year in pay. Margaret Jobst, an executive vice president, made $539,058, according to GMAC's government filing. Julia Tyler, an executive vice president for global market development, pulled down $562,378. Robert Rosecrans, chief information officer, made $465,327. In all, six-figure bonuses were paid to nine GMAC officers, including a $448,000 bonus for Wilson, whose 2012 annual compensation was especially inflated due to $745,485 in deferred pay.
GMAC defends those salaries, saying that they are not out of line with what peer organizations pay their top leaders. "We are a global revenue generating enterprise with a not-for-profit mission," says D'Amato. "We were recruiting to 'build' a company, not just staff an existing organization in a very competitive recruitment market."