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  • Malvika Patil

MBA Programs Offering GMAT/GRE Waivers in 2024



“I don’t want to take the GMAT/GRE. Can I get a waiver?”


It’s a question we get often here at Sam Weeks Consulting. The GMAT/GRE can be intimidating, especially for applicants who are non-native English speakers or didn’t study math during undergrad.


Many top MBA programs allow applicants to request a GMAT/GRE waiver and submit their MBA applications without a standardized test score. This offer was at its peak during the pandemic, when schools wanted to make the application process more accessible for applicants who lived remotely or who had their careers impacted by the pandemic.


The key thing to understand though is that, just because your target business school offers a GMAT/GRE waiver, does NOT mean that you should necessarily use it. Because giving the school reassurance about your abilities is generally better than leaving them guessing (and perhaps assuming the worst!)


In our experience, only candidates who can make a strong case for a waiver and have an excellent overall profile have received and benefited from a GMAT/GRE waiver. Test centers have reopened since the end of the pandemic and schools have begun accepting tests taken remotely, so it’s more difficult to justify requesting a GMAT/GRE waiver.


In this blog, we’ll explain who is eligible for a GMAT/GRE waiver, which schools offer a waiver in 2023 - 2024, and how you can apply for a GMAT/GRE waiver.


Who Should Request a GMAT Waiver?


Business schools typically require GMAT/GRE waiver applicants to demonstrate academic strength through one or more of the following criteria:


  • A high undergraduate GPA (typically 3.4/4.0 and higher), including strong performance in analytical subjects or coursework

  • A Master’s, Doctorate, advanced degree, or professional certification (like CFA/CPA/international equivalent) in an analytical discipline

  • Minimum 2-10 years of professional work experience, preferably in a quantitative position


But remember, all GMAT/GRE waiver requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Waivers are never guaranteed! So unless you have a very good reason to skip the test, you should attempt it. Here’s why:


  • Admissions: Submitting a GMAT/GRE test score with your MBA application demonstrates your academic aptitude and readiness to take on the MBA program coursework. It’s a key factor in the AdCom’s evaluation process.

  • Scholarships: The Scholarship Committee may want to consider your GMAT/GRE score as a data point to benchmark your academic performance against other scholarship applicants. A GMAT/GRE score might make you eligible for more merit-based scholarships.

  • Career Goals: Some recruiters, especially in industries like consulting and finance, may ask for a GMAT/GRE score during their screening process for MBA internship recruitment. If you don’t have one, you’ll be at a disadvantage when recruiting for these internships.

 

So even if your standardized test performance is mediocre or even weak, your application is generally stronger with a test score. Remember, the GMAT/GRE is only one of many components in the holistic admissions process. Check out our interview with this applicant who won $93,000 in scholarships, even with a below-average GMAT score.



If your profile isn't in these categories, but you still don’t want to take the GMAT/GRE, consider the Executive Assessment instead. This is a shorter test (about half the length of the GMAT) that was originally designed for Executive MBA applicants, but is now accepted by many top schools for their Full-time MBAs as well. Schools that accept the EA for full-time MBA applicants include Columbia, NYU Stern, Duke Fuqua, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, UCLA Anderson, Georgetown McDonough, HEC Paris, UVA Darden, Texas McCombs, Vanderbilt Owen, and more. 


Also, it’s worth noting that the new GMAT Focus edition has a shorter test duration than the GMAT classic, simplified, more application-focused prep, and no Analytical Writing section. Instead, the GMAT Focus Edition replaces Analytical Writing with a new Data Insights section to test candidates’ readiness for modern business skills like digital and data literacy.


And the GRE is becoming less daunting, also. The GRE is seeing some key changes in 2024, with a shorter test duration, reduction in the number of Quant and Verbal questions, and no argument essay. 


Top Business Schools Offering GMAT/GRE Waivers in 2023 - 2024


The list of business schools offering GMAT/GRE waivers changes every academic year. So you should check eligibility requirements with your target school.


Among the T20 tier of business schools, here are the schools that offer GMAT/GRE waivers:

School

Eligibility Criteria



Discretion of the Admissions Committee

Work experience or advanced degree in a quantitative field

Current Booth students or graduates with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher

Case-by-case basis with focus on strong undergraduate performance, Master’s degree or work experience in a quantitative field

Strong undergraduate performance, Master’s degree or work experience in a quant field, CPA/CFA/international equivalent, expired GMAT/GRE/EA test scores

Case-by-case only for Evening and Weekend MBA applicants

Case-by-case only for Executive MBA and Online MBA applicants

Case-by-case on the basis of academic readiness

Conferred bachelor's degree, full-time professional work experience, post undergraduate studies, preferably in a quant field

Case-by-case basis with focus on strong undergraduate performance, Master’s degree or work experience in a quantitative field

Work experience or advanced degree in a quantitative field

Case-by-case on the basis of academic readiness

Case-by-case on the basis of academic readiness

“Test Optional” on the basis of strong undergraduate performance, Master’s degree or work experience in a quant field, CPA/CFA/international equivalent.


How to Apply for a GMAT/GRE Waiver


As part of your GMAT/GRE waiver application, you will generally need to submit an extra essay demonstrating that you have the relevant skills and experience to qualify for a waiver. The AdCom particularly looks for evidence of analytical reasoning and quant skills through any degree/non-degree coursework, professional certifications like the CFA/CPA/CAIA/international equivalent, and your work experience.


Here’s what you should include in your GMAT/GRE waiver essay:


  1. Why the waiver: Briefly explain your reason for requesting a test waiver. 

  2. Achievements or certifications: Discuss your academic GPA, coursework, professional achievements and certifications received, focusing on highlighting the quant, verbal, and critical reasoning skills that are tested in the GMAT/GRE/EA. Your goal is to show academic readiness for the school’s curriculum.

  3. Work experience: How have you applied your quant/verbal skills in your career? Point to relevant examples.

  4. Conclusion: Thank the AdCom for their time and consideration.


 

Prepping for the GMAT/GRE/EA? Book a free chat with our expert consultants.



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Hi, I'm Sam.  I'm the founder of Sam Weeks Consulting. Our clients get admitted to top MBA and EMBA programs.

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