GMAT has been traditionally hailed as a uniform scale to measure the quantitative and communicative readiness of a candidate for MBA.
The standardized scoring format reduces the need for a more subjective evaluation of an applicant’s analytical skills against her competitors.
A GMAT Validity Study Summary Report study conducted by GMAC (1997 to 2004) for predictive b-school grades for international MBA students showed a positive correlation between quantitative GMAT scores and 1st year grades.
Especially for business degrees, later independent studies showed that high performance in b-schools and high GMAT scores went hand in hand as compared to undergraduate GPAs of the same individuals.
Seems like GMAT, as a success indicator, has been a widely accepted testing system for MBA, as is GRE for MS and more recently for even MBA. Hence its integration in MBA applications since 1954, still going strong for nearly 70 years.
Is GMAT essential for MBA?
Given its traditional significance in MBA applications, it is natural to ask whether GMAT is essential for MBA. Can GMAT be compensated by other factors? Or simply put, is GMAT an integral part of MBA applications or can it be waived?
Many admission committees have been known to offer a get-out-of-GMAT-free-card in the form of waivers.
While GRE has been added in the list of accepted test scores for many MBA applications, the idea of viewing test scores on a case by case basis has also become common place.
Schools look at what the individual candidate has to offer holistically, as in by means of reviewing the whole application package – essay, education background, work experience, extra-curricular, etc.
Quantitative and verbal acumen can after all be evidenced through other means as well.
Pandemic and its fallout
Special and unusual circumstances like the global Covid 19 pandemic brought in far more number, even the most elite, of business schools in the no-GMAT/GRE-required club.
Many test centers were closed and/or students were unable to appear for tests due to lockdown conditions. While this measure was to ease the situation being faced globally, it also showed that MBA applications are capable of being viewed sans standardized test scores.
A lot of business schools have not completely moved away from GMAT test scores, finding a middle ground in accepting online GMAT/GRE scores instead that students can take from the comforts of their home.
Many schools are also treating these unusual GMAT requirements r waivers as a pilot program to see how they translate into student quality and consequent success.
– Impact of Covid on MBA students – A statistical analysis
Standardized tests, by themselves, have been claimed to not be fair across students from various backgrounds.
For instance, few colleges are relying less on ACT/SAT results given financially low income families are usually unable to support preparations and costs of tests.
Many colleges are opting out of SAT/ACT altogether to give a case-by-case fair chance to students from all economic backgrounds.
Are high GMAT scorers more successful in their careers?
It is true that some positive correlation has been observed between GMAT and academic performance, as mentioned before.
However, few studies have explored the relation between GMAT score and career success.
While business schools with higher incoming GMAT scores have shown to produce higher outgoing post-MBA starting salary jobs.
This trend can be more readily attributed to the inherent advantage of high GMAT scorers being admitted to better schools with better job placements.
Even though b-schools have shown a positive correlation between high GMAT scores and initial average career success for outgoing batches, the correlation seems to not work at the level of individual successes of MBA grads.
Historically, GMAT doesn’t measure skills like leadership, drive, focus, motivation and creativity (Source).
In fact, it has been found that older MBA candidates, with higher and more relevant work experience, actually score less than younger applicants with recent college degrees.
One can only infer that the “practice” of testing is more prevalent in younger candidates, thus the higher scores. Even though the older candidates tend to be more successful managers with promising career paths.
In the past few years an increasing number of business schools have adopted the option to opt out of standardized GMNAT/GRE test scores.
Appropriate explanations through essays and other background material is expected in lieu of the missing test scores, of course.
However, it does give a solid chance for students with either the means lacking proper GMAT preparation, or means to test well, to apply and be considered neck to neck with others.
Requesting GMAT waiver
As mentioned before, GMAT waiver is a privilege that is afforded as long as the applicant is able to demonstrate their MBA readiness through other means.
The usual method is to send a GMAT waiver request letter making a case for not submitting your GMAT score. Typically, MBA admission committees prefer certain qualities in their MBA candidates.
Your work experience should be able to reflect your capability to lead and face challenges, for yourself and your team.
In the same spirit, work experience that demonstrates your ability to take initiatives, solve problems, grow and learn with ample show of your quantitative and communicative skills is a major plus.
Good academic performance with ample quantitative background gives a strong foundation to make your case for waiving GMAT/GRE test scores.
MBA essays provide the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself and your waive-worthy circumstances to be considered for such an exception.
Here are a few well known business schools with the option to waive GMAT or GRE scores for MBA applications.
Top MBA in USA, Canada, Europe with GMAT GRE waiver
|Business School||Country||GMAT/GRE Waiver Criteria|
|Dartmouth Tuck||USA||Applicants are not required to submit GMAT/GRE score until admitted and enrolled|
|Virginia Darden||USA||Waiver applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis|
|NYU Stern||USA||“If the pandemic has impacted your ability to prepare for or take a standardized test, but you feel that you are able to demonstrate academic readiness, you can request a standardized test waiver” – NYU Stern|
|Cornell Johnson||USA||Full-Time MBA 2021-2022 applicants have the ability to request a GMAT/GRE test waiver, without negative bias. Waiver statement required|
|Georgetown McDonough||USA||COVID-Accessibility Test waiver is available|
|Michigan Ross||USA||“Applicants to the 2021-2022 Full-Time MBA application cycle have the ability to request a waiver for standardized test requirements, in response to hardships caused by the pandemic.” – Michigan Ross|
|University of Southern California Marshall||USA||Applicants for 2021-22 admission cycle can request GMAT/GRE waiver subject to school policies|
|University of North Carolina Kenan Flagler||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available on request|
|Carnegie Mellon Tepper||USA||GMAT/GRE/EA test waiver available based on mathematical preparedness and other essentials on a case-by-case basis|
|University of Washington Foster||USA||GMAT/GRE Test Optional is available subject to response to two short questions for “Test Optional Summary of Qualifications”|
|Rice University Jones||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request|
|Indiana University Kelley||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver for candidates with demonstration of quantitative and analytic capability|
|University of Texas McCombs||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver for those who either submit expired scores, provide EA score instead, or qualify for the Covid-19 test waiver petition|
|University of California Irvine Merage||USA||Eligibility for an Academic Test (GMAT/GRE) Waiver for applicants with 2+ years work experience and strong quantitative academic record, CPA or other advanced certification, or US military personnel|
|Michigan State University Broad||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request|
|Imperial College Business School||UK||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request|
|Babson College Olin||USA||No GMAT/GRE needed for 2022 entry|
|Boston University Questrom||USA||No GMAT/GRE needed for 2022 entry|
|University of Maryland Smith||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request in response to Covid-19|
|Boston College Carroll||USA||MBA applicants applying for Fall 2022 can request consideration for a GMAT/GRE waiver|
|Ohio State University Fisher||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request|
|Arizona State University WP. Carey||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver dependent on academic professional background|
|Georgia Tech Scheller||USA||GMAT/GRE Test Optional admissions path available|
|University of St Gallen||Switzerland||GMAT/GRE test waiver for those with following qualifications: PhD, CFA Level 2, CPA, or a similar qualification assessed on a case-by-case basis|
|George Washington University||USA||GMAT/GRE not required|
|University of Minnesota Carlson||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request|
|BYU Marriott||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request in response to Covid-19|
|UT Dallas Jindal||USA||Candidates with a PhD or a U.S.-based MD, JD or PharmD, with a strong quantitative readiness may request a GMAT/GRE exam wavier|
|University of Toronto Rotman||Canada||GMAT/GRE waived for candidates who have passed CFA III|
|Wisconsin School of Business||USA||GMAT/GRE waiver available upon request based on certain criteria|
|Rutgers Business School||USA||Applicants with JD, Ph.D., MD, or DO or with excellent academic record and plenty of professional experience may be eligible for GMAT/GRE waiver|
|Melbourne Business School||Australia||Graduates from Australian/New Zealand universities who don’t wish to apply for scholarships are eligible for GMAT/GRE waivers|
|Fordham University Gabelli||USA||Candidates who don’t submit GMAT/GRE/EA scores should demonstrate one of the following:
– Relevant subject knowledge
– Industry certs like CFA, CPA, CAP, PMP, PHR, PE or Six Sigma
– MCAT/LSAT scores
– Quantitative non-degree coursework (Coursera etc.)
|Western University Ivey||Canada||GMAT requirement is waived for applicants who have all 3 Levels of the CFA designation, have CPA designation (CPA Canada), or those who have a valid LSAT score of 160+|
We’ve referenced Poets&Quants for the data (see reference link 2 below) and restricted the list to the top programs ranked by the latest Financial Times Global MBA rankings.
Even stalwarts like MIT Sloan are offering GMAT waivers, steering away from their tradition of relying on test scores as part of their holistic evaluation of MBA applicants.
Ultimately, GMAT still remains a significant part of MBA applications.
However, this new trend of making concessions for such test scores is pushing b-schools and applicants to rethink their approach towards MBA applications.
This list may change over time. So the wise action would be to review your b-school list at the time of your application and see where they stand on the GMAT score requirement.
Write to us if you need any professional help with your MBA applications: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com
Meanwhile glean through these articles to help you guide through your application.
– MBA without GMAT requirement in USA, Europe, India
– Second MBA without GMAT for Indian mom
– Master’s degree without GRE or GMAT- MS in USA
– GRE waiver for top universities
– Low GMAT success story
Sources: 1, 2