Earning an MBA could mean substantially boosting your earning power and lowering your risk of unemployment. MBA graduates typically see pay rises of 50 percent over their pre-business-school salaries, and five years after graduation, they’re typically earning about 80 percent more than those already-higher post-graduation salaries. In 2016, 88 percent of students graduating from a ranked business school found a job within three months of graduation.
While those statistics might sound tempting, you’re probably intimidated by the prospect of taking the GMAT - most MBA applicants are. At this point, we must pause and note that the GMAT likely seems far more daunting than it needs to. The GMAT really and truly is a test that you can prepare for. It’s not some sort of IQ test that measures innate talent. With a customized study plan, deliberate practice, and fair amount of hard work, and perhaps some private GMAT tutoring, many students can see their scores rise from the low 400s in initial practice tests to 650 or even 700+ when they take the official GMAT.
But without a doubt, achieving a 700+ GMAT score requires commitment, hard work, and time.
But what if you could get into a good MBA program without taking this daunting standardized test?
Let’s pause one more time here. You can’t get into a top 50 MBA program without taking the GMAT. And, if one of the main reasons you want to attend business school is to associate yourself with a prestigious business school education brand, you probably need to take the GMAT. But if you want to earn an MBA to acquire new skills and learn about new business functions or industries, there are many good programs out there which will, in the right situations, waive the GMAT.
While many MBA programs still require most applicants to take the GMAT, some programs don’t - and others will waive testing requirements for students with previous work experience, another advanced degree, and/or an exceptional undergraduate GPA. Here’s what you need to know about getting your GMAT requirement waived:
Look for GMAT-Optional or No-GMAT Programs
The first step to getting a GMAT waiver for your MBA application is to look at the right programs. Some programs will never waive the GMAT requirement, no matter how much experience you have, how educated you already are, or how great your undergraduate GPA was. A few schools, like Rutgers and Texas A&M, don’t require GMAT scores from any student. Many other schools are willing to waive the GMAT requirement for students who can demonstrate through other means that they’re capable of doing the work required of an MBA program. Smaller schools are more likely to waive GMAT requirements. Online programs, too, may be more willing to waive GMAT requirements, because these programs typically attract non-traditional students who may already be in full-time roles.
Study the Waiver Requirements Carefully
Each MBA program will have a different policy regarding the issuing of a GMAT waiver. Find a written copy of that policy for each program that interests you, and study it carefully. Chances are you’ll need to demonstrate several years of professional experience in business, previous leadership experience, a strong undergraduate GPA, and previous experience with post-graduated education.
If you already have a post-graduate degree, that will work in your favor when seeking a GMAT waiver, especially if your degree is in a STEM field that emphasizes math, statistics, or other quantitative skills. You’re not completely out of luck if you don’t have a master’s degree already; professional certifications like a CFA or CPA can also help you get out of having the take the GMAT.
Write a GMAT Waiver Letter
If you want to get a GMAT waiver from the program of your choice, you’ll need to write a GMAT waiver letter that explains to the admissions committee why your application should be considered without GMAT scores. Your GMAT waiver letter should:
- Describe your current role and your level of professional experience in business;
- Show your level of experience with team-based roles and leadership;
- Demonstrate how you’ve developed analytical skills through your professional experience; and
- Provide concise examples to back up your assertions.
Your waiver letter should also discuss other aspects of your background that you feel should qualify you for a waiver, such as your undergraduate GPA, and any existing post-graduate degrees, graduate certificates, or certifications you have.
Are You Sure You Want a GMAT Waiver?
Even if the school to which you’re applying doesn’t require GMAT scores or is willing to issue a waiver, taking the GMAT could strengthen your application or help you earn financial aid. A strong GMAT score could help admissions committee members overlook poor undergraduate grades, for example. Many schools, even those that don’t require them, use GMAT scores to award scholarships or to decide whether accepted students should be required to take prerequisite courses.
Ask whether taking the GMAT could benefit you before applying for a waiver.
A GMAT waiver could allow you to get into a top-quality MBA program without the need to take an expensive and grueling standardized test. There are schools that are happy to grant a GMAT waiver to an applicant with lots of professional experience, another advanced degree, and a good undergraduate GPA. With a GMAT waiver, you could save time, money, and trouble, while still becoming another MBA success story.