The barrier to elite MBA programs edged lower this year when many business schools began waiving the GMAT entrance test in response to the coronavirus disruption to testing, which was halted in most world regions until an online version was brought in.
But many US schools have extended their waivers, without negative bias, even after online tests have become a permanent fixture of MBA admissions. This reflects concerns over potential unfairness with underrepresented minorities tending to score worse on the tests, as well as the coronavirus disruption.
Business schools typically require the GMAT or GRE as one demonstration of quantitative ability.
Without a GMAT score applicants are asked to demonstrate their readiness for the academic rigor of an MBA through undergraduate GPAs, or strong leadership experience or another academic qualification or short online course. At some schools, candidates have to write additional essays for a waiver.
GMAT waivers are mostly granted on a case-by-case basis. They are competitive: applicants are encouraged to submit their waiver request early because the number of waivers granted is expected to be limited. Schools covet GMAT scores because they strongly influence perceptions of cohort quality, and positions in some key MBA rankings.
Most schools are offering the waivers as pilots only for the 2020/21 academic year, when evidence of the impact will be reviewed before any firm decisions are made on the future of standardized testing. The early evidence is encouraging: schools with waivers report an increase in applications from women and underrepresented minority students.
MIT Sloan School of Management is offering a GMAT/GRE waiver for the 2020/21 admissions cycle due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, applicants are encouraged to submit other pieces of evidence such as online course certificates or industry certifications such as CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), one of the toughest exams in finance.View School Profile
UVA Darden accepts several different standardized tests for full-time MBA admissions, including the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, MCAT and LSAT. Candidates can submit a test waiver as a pilot for the 2020/21 application cycle. The school advises that certain candidates consider applying for a waiver, such as those who can provide indications of academic accomplishment, such as a strong undergraduate GPA or seven or more years of progressive work experience in an analytical field.View School Profile
Michigan Ross enables students who have more than four years of full-time professional work experience to apply for a GMAT/GRE waiver to reflect any Covid-19-related difficulties. Students most also meet two additional criteria, including having an advanced degree and having earned a high marks in at least four quantitative courses.View School Profile
Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School is offering a test score waiver for the current academic year, to address concerns over access to testing centers and potential inequalities in online testing, it said. Waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis to qualified candidates who can demonstrate their mathematical preparedness through completing the Tepper School’s “Calculus Fundamentals” online course.View School Profile
Georgetown McDonough will offer prospective MBA students a waiver if they are having issues accessing the online exam, with testing capacity limited in some countries. But they cannot have taken a GMAT, GRE or EA exam within the past five years. If they have, they will need to submit those scores and are ineligible for a waiver.View School Profile
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is offer a GMAT waiver for those who have a 3.2 GPA in a business, economics, analytics, or STEM advanced degree. Those with five or more years of managerial experience in a quantitative field can also apply for a waiver, along with people who have a certification like the CFA or CPA. Applicants are encouraged to submit their waiver request early to allow for processing time.View School Profile
Cornell University’s Johnson School is offering a waiver, without negative bias, in response to the hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the business school requires applicants to submit a short, 100-word essay. The school asks candidates to describe their personal circumstances and provide a clear and compelling argument for why they will flourish in a rigorous academic environment.View School Profile
The Kelley School typically requires the GMAT or GRE as one demonstration of quantitative ability, but in light of Covid-19 candidates can apply for a waiver if they submit other evidence of their academic qualifications. The school said it expects to award a limited number of candidates with very strong qualifications, such as previous degrees or evidence of work experience using analytical skills. Applicants must submit in 500 or fewer words a statement on why they should qualify for a waiver.View School Profile
At Babson College this year there’s no GMAT or GRE required. Instead, the business school evaluates past academic performance, as well as written and verbal communication and career potential or progress through other MBA application elements, such as CV or letters of recommendation.View School Profile
Rutgers Business School is also waving standardized tests, with priority being given to Rutgers alumni as well as those who can demonstrate a strong academic track record through GPAs, or strong leadership experience in the professional world.View School Profile