What is a GMAT test waiver? | TopMBA.com

What is a GMAT test waiver?

By Laura L

Updated August 11, 2022 Updated August 11, 2022

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is used by top business schools to make critical admissions decisions, assessing candidates on their suitability for an MBA.  

A strong GMAT score can mean a higher chance of being accepted onto a business programme and could even result in a scholarship. Though, it is possible to gain entry onto an MBA degree without one. 

Many of the top business schools in the world offer the opportunity to waive the entry tests, like GMAT or GRE. In fact, a quarter of the top 20 MBA programmes in the world have the option of waiving entry tests for candidates who can otherwise demonstrate their ability to handle the intensity of an MBA.  

At MIT Sloan School of Management, candidates are still offered the opportunity to waive the GMAT test in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, if their situation would prevent them from safely accessing an exam.  

At the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, candidates can apply for the MBA and EMBA programme without taking the GMAT or Executive Assessment (EA) exams, if they can demonstrate the relevant skills in their application and interview. 

Those who choose not to submit a GMAT score as part of their application to The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania must instead submit an essay providing alternative evidence of their readiness. The school will look closely at academic and professional accomplishments including master’s degrees, CPA, CFA or equivalent certification, and full-time work experience.  

How do I apply for a waiver? 

Waiving the entry exams often requires an additional application, which will be reviewed by an individual member of the admissions team. At some schools, test scores will be waived automatically as part of the overall application process.  

Before you apply, it’s advised that you research whether your business school of choice has the option to waive entry exams and what to do.  

To request a test waiver at MIT Sloan, for example, candidates are advised to start the MBA application process and navigate to the section on test scores, where a waiver request form will be provided.  

Petia Whitmore, founder of consultancy company My MBA Path, said: “As you are evaluating how you can offer evidence of academic preparedness, it’s important to make an informed decision, which will not negatively impact your chances of admissions. In order to do this, there is no better place to go to for details than the source itself.” 

How is a waiver accepted or denied?  

When an application for a test waiver has been submitted, the admissions team will consider the request either as part of your wider MBA application, or individually.  

At Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, many factors are considered when evaluating requests ‘including rigour and achievement from previous undergraduate and graduate degrees, evidence of work experience requiring analytical and quantitative skills, and post–bachelor’s degree career growth including demonstration of leadership.’ 

At Rutgers Business School, limited test waivers are provided and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Priority is given to experienced candidates with a graduate degree and those with evidence of strong leadership qualities who can help the school meet its goal for diversity.  

Should I apply to waive my GMAT test? 

Business schools are looking for candidates who meet their high standards of business and academic excellence, regardless of whether a GMAT test is required. According to Whitmore, “a test waiver is not a get out of jail free card.” Without strong evidence of a candidate’s capabilities elsewhere in the application, waiving the GMAT test could heavily impact your likelihood of being accepted onto a programme. 

She said: “The decision to pursue a test waiver should not be made without considering all its implications on your competitiveness in the MBA admissions process. […] Every time I speak with a head of MBA admissions, I hear about examples of candidates who would have benefited from having taken the test and whose competitive standing in the applicant pool was adversely impacted by their decision to pursue a waiver. Of course, there are plenty of stories of stellar candidates who simply are not stellar standardised test takers.  

“Test waivers have helped many candidates who otherwise would not have been able to fulfil their dream of applying to business school. If you are hoping to have a strong chance of admission, you will need the right application strategies, and this includes the right approach to the admissions test.”

This article was originally published in August 2022 .

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