Not too long ago, the GMAT was the unavoidable gateway to a top MBA program. However, it is starting to become less of a “must” with each increasing year as a result of many contributing factors—notwithstanding a global pandemic, schools wanting to access a more diverse swath of applicants, and admissions committees recognizing that there are many other ways to evaluate a candidate’s ability to perform well academically.
Today, more and more schools are interested in a wider range of tests, including the GRE, the EA, and even your dusty old SAT and ACT scores from high school!
And for some schools, no test is required at all.
Maybe you don’t have the ability to safely take an exam, or you lack a home working setup that could accommodate studying for and/or taking an online exam, or you simply do not have the time to study because of your demanding schedule. If so, you’ll be happy to hear that a GMAT/GRE test waiver is now an option for some applicants at certain schools.
How are test waivers granted?
To be clear, not everyone who applies for a test waiver is granted one. You will need to convince the admissions committee that you have already displayed the requisite achievements and practical application skills to give them confidence in waiving the requirement for you. The level of convincing necessary will vary from school to school, so do not be discouraged if one school does not grant you a waiver; you may have a different result elsewhere. Conversely, if you do get a waiver from a particular school, there is a fair chance you may be granted one for another program as well—but there are no guarantees.
Most merit-based test waivers are granted on the basis of strong undergraduate academics, quantitative analysis in your profession, graduate degree grades, and/or application of quantitative/verbal/critical reasoning fundamentals, as well as other extracurricular courses or activities to showcase your academic abilities.
How can I request a test waiver?
Some schools will ask for specific information when requesting your waiver, while others will give you a blank field to fill out with a tight word limit. If you encounter the latter option, the following template is a general formula you can use to request your waiver:
Your why: Introduce your case briefly, and include your reason for not taking an exam.
Achievements: Elaborate on your academic GPA and achievements, relevant previous coursework and grades, professional achievements, graduate degrees, and certifications pertaining to the criteria the school wants you to satisfy to receive a waiver (encompassing quant, verbal, and critical reasoning, if applicable).
Work experience/practical application: Prove competence in your skills. Share professional applicability and/or challenges you’ve faced and overcome through your knowledge.
Close: Thank the admissions committee for their time, and politely request that they weigh your accomplishments against the requirement of an exam.
Many schools will respond to your GMAT/GRE test waiver request without you even having to complete your full application—which could save you significant time. And once you receive your waiver, schools will not evaluate any test scores for your application, regardless of whether you have already submitted a score to them in the past. So, if you already have a test score and don’t believe it reflects your abilities (or it’s far below the program’s average scores), requesting a test waiver may be an ideal option for you.
If you’re looking for help in navigating the complex and competitive MBA application landscape, reach out to one of our counselors for a free 30-minute consultation. All of Stratus’s counselors have degrees from top MBA programs and would love to support you in your next phase in life!