More US business schools offer GMAT, GRE waiver amid pandemic

Just because business schools are offering GMAT and GRE waivers, that doesn’t mean students don’t have to meet the high admissions standards.

By U2B Staff 

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In light of the pandemic, many top businesses and graduate schools have announced they are offering GMAT and GRE score waivers for MBA admission this year.

According to Poets & Quants, some 65 of the top 100 schools have now gone fully test-optional or are actively promoting test waiver policies. 

The question is, are these changes taking effect at the expense of declining admission standards?

MBA admission officials would disagree.

In lieu of admission tests, MBA admission officials say they are relying on other parts of candidates’ applications to gauge their ability to handle the academic requirements of their programmes.


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

“We are not waiving the requirement that an applicant has demonstrated analytical and quantitative skills,” said University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business managing director of full-time MBA admissions and programme Soojin Kwon to the portal. 

“We want to see students succeed and thrive in our programme. As such, we will continue to look for evidence that an applicant can handle the rigor of our MBA programme.”

The portal reported that roughly a third of the top 25 schools have waived standardised test scores, three-quarters of the schools ranked between 50th to 100th are now waiving GMATs and GREs. 

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is among the business schools that have adopted test-optional admissions.

It said online: “For select candidates, a standardised test may not be necessary. As a pilot for the 2020-21 application cycle (for the Class of 2023), we are pleased to announce a standardised test waiver request.”

MIT Sloan notes: “Standardised tests, such as GMAT, GRE, EA, TOEFL, IELTS, are a component of the application process and play an important role in our holistic evaluation process. 

“However, in view of challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, we will allow candidates for the 2020-21 admission cycle to submit their application without the test and review their submitted material as is and without negative inferences. If admitted, candidates will not be required to take a test.”

Other institutions including Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School, and Boston University’s Questrom School are fully test-optional this year.

Areas aspiring US business school candidates should focus on

Despite the slew of business schools offering GMAT and GRE waivers, you can still take and submit the test if you think it will improve your chances of securing admission.

For those who want to opt-out of taking the test, you might want to boost other aspects of your application. 

University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business notes that they will “look closely at your academic and professional accomplishments”. 


This includes, but not limited to strong undergraduate or graduate record; master’s degree in an analytical or quantitative discipline CPA, CFA, or international equivalent; at least five years of progressive post-undergraduate, full-time work experience in an analytical or quantitative field; strong performance on an expired GMAT or GRE and/or strong performance on the Executive Assessment (EA).

The EA is an admissions exam designed for executive MBA programmes.

It’s worth noting that some business schools are only offering admissions test waiver only under certain circumstances, such as Emory University Goizueta Business School, which notes: “This waiver is reserved for those who cannot access a test or have extenuating circumstances they would like to share with the Admission Committee.”