Business schools offer GMAT and GRE waivers for MBA admission in 2020

SOURCE: Photo by WANG Zhao / AFP
Don't fret if you plan on taking the GMAT or GRE this year for MBA admission - you might not need to.

By U2B Staff 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to thousands of layoffs. With unemployment rates shooting up and the job market becoming increasingly competitive, many are considering graduate programmes such as the MBA to upskill themselves and gain employability in difficult times.

If you’re one of them, now’s the time to do it as many top businesses and graduate schools have announced they are offering GMAT waivers and GRE scores for MBA admission this year and offering more flexibility with admission requirements.

Both tests require months and months of heavy preparation, and high scores are often required to gain admission into the best MBA programmes.

Matt Symonds, Co-Founder of Fortuna Admissions and CentreCourt MBA Festival, recently wrote on Forbes, “Close to a quarter of a million business school hopefuls take the GMAT every year. It’s no small thing to sit for the exam; it’s a gruelling, three-hour assessment that graduate management admission offices use to vet a candidate’s ability to handle the rigorous MBA or Specialised Masters coursework.

“Preparation is imperative for this quant-heavy, adaptive test with non-intuitive elements like data sufficiency, and candidates who score above 700 often report studying at least 80-100 hours. The average GMAT score for the incoming class at Stanford GSB is an eye-watering 734; for Harvard Business School it’s 730 and Wharton 732.”

While many MBA programmes don’t require the GMAT or GRE even before the pandemic (especially for online programmes), applicants must typically have business working experience in lieu.

For those who don’t fit the bill – such as those looking to switch careers or fresh graduates – taking the GMAT or GRE was typically the only way to boost their application. The waivers will likely come as good news to applicants who previously planned on taking these exams.

The pandemic has caused disruption to higher education institutions around the world, and the GMAT and GRE can now only be taken at home – which puts some students at a disadvantage.


A statement from the John Hopkins Carey Business School reads: “Due to the impact on testing facilities, we are offering GMAT/GRE waivers for the remainder of the fall 2020 application cycle for full-time MBA programs.”

“If you would still like to include a test score with your application, we will accept scores from the new at-home versions of the GRE and GMAT. If you needed to submit an incomplete application for round 4, we will still review it. We are being as flexible as possible and will work with you on a case-by-case basis.”

Other US business schools such as Harvard Business School and Penn State Smeal College of Business have also waived GMAT and GRE requirements.

According to the Times of India, Penn State Smeal College of Business is waiving off GMAT and GRE scores “for candidates with strong quantitative educational backgrounds, regardless of work experience,” and those with active GRE or GMAT scores are eligible for an application fee waiver.

If you still took the online GMAT and GRE at home, you can still submit your scores to boost your application, but it’s no longer mandatory.

Since in-person classes are likely to be cancelled for the remainder of the year, MBA programmes will most likely be conducted online.

Travelling will also be affected for the remaining of the year as countries keep their borders tightly closed to prevent further outbreaks of the virus.

So if you’ve been laid off or found yourself out of work because of the pandemic, or maybe you recently graduated and are finding it difficult to find work – consider applying for an MBA programme in 2020, especially since you don’t need to spend time or money on the GMAT or GRE.

If the university you’re eyeing hasn’t formally announced waivers, it could be worth checking with them if they are offering waivers for applicants this year.