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A Guide to Test Waivers: Should You Request a Waiver for Submitting a GMAT or GRE Score?

gmat waiver request

It is no secret that standardized tests are not the part of the MBA application process that applicants most cherish. Some applicants simply aren’t good at standardized testing; others feel they do not have the time to invest in studying properly. Due to COVID-19 and the related impact on testing centers and availability, test waivers have become a more prevalent option in b-school admissions. Whether you’re hesitant or excited about the GMAT or GRE, what are valid reasons to request a test waiver? Even if you have a valid reason, does it make sense to request a test waiver?

In this piece, we take a closer look at reasons you may wish to request a test waiver and reasons you should not. We also have a rundown of the schools that offer test waivers for the 2021-2022 admissions season.

Reasons to Request a GMAT/GRE Waiver

If you fall under one of the following exceptions, you may be able to successfully bypass this piece of the admissions process. Of course, keep in mind that just because you could request a waiver doesn’t mean that you should – more on that aspect below

  1. Access – There’s still a pandemic, and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc. It may be unsafe for you to take the test at your nearby testing center. While you can now take the GMAT or GRE at home, there may be circumstances such as connectivity or privacy that limit this option for you, too.
  2. Professional credentials – If you have a CPA or CFA, these professional credentials may attest to your quantitative skill set and perhaps put you on your way to being granted a waiver.
  3. Academic history – If you have a strong undergraduate GPA from a well-known institution, particularly in a quantitatively focused major, this may be proof enough of your quantitative skills. The caliber of your institution coupled with your GPA will matter here. A master’s degree in a quantitative or analytical discipline may also showcase your relevant skills.
  4. Outdated strong score – GMAT scores are generally valid for five years. If you just missed the window, but have a strong score, you may try to request a waiver rather than sit the exam again.
  5. Other test performance – Many schools have expanded the kind of test scores they will accept. If you have taken the Executive Assessment, for example, you may be able to submit a waiver request for the GMAT/GRE and submit this score instead. Some programs will even take an LSAT or MCAT result.
  6. Test anxiety – Sometimes, feelings of anxiety can be too overwhelming. Prioritize your health and consider requesting a waiver if the test causes too much stress.

Even if You Can Claim One of the Exceptions Above, There Are Numerous Reasons Not to Request a GMAT/GRE Waiver

The GMAT and GRE play an important role in presenting your candidacy. While you may wish you could skip it, some reasons are not strong enough to request a waiver. Consider the following reasons to not submit a test waiver.

  1. Wrong impression – If you have the time, you should prep and take the GMAT. It can risk looking lazy if you do not commit to this element of the application process. Clear Admit’s Alex Brown says, “How committed are you to this competition? If you’re looking for the easiest route to a school, you’re not putting forth enough effort. Schools are looking for applicants to put their best candidacy forward.”
  2. Less Data – By skipping out on the exam, you are going to give the admissions team a bit less to work with when it comes to properly assessing and benchmarking your academic aptitude. While candidates get into top schools without the test, it’s always better to provide more evidence of your skills as opposed to less.
  3. Overrepresented applicant – If you come from an overrepresented pool of candidates, you should definitely take the test. An excellent score can help you stand out in a crowded field.
  4. Multiple attempts – Let’s say, for example, you’ve taken the GMAT three times with improvement, but are still falling a bit shy of a school’s average. You should submit the score. Then, you can use the optional essay to explain this aberration, highlighting other proof in your profile that you have relevant skills that will ensure you thrive in the classroom.
  5. Post-MBA Recruiting – Beyond b-schools admissions, you have your future to consider – especially if you plan on a career in consulting or finance. Some of these industry employers have been known to look at GMAT/GRE scores as part of the recruiting process.

Be sure to check your target schools’ test waiver criteria before deciding.

What’s in a Test Waiver Request?

Since the schools that offer waivers all have their own policies and rules, it’s really important to read and follow the instructions. Most programs will need to understand your reason for making the waiver request, and many will ask for evidence of academic ability (unofficial transcripts, other credentials, etc.). Many programs will also offer up some open space for you to explain your rationale for the request in greater detail.

Which Schools Offer Test Waiver Requests?

Here is a list of schools that offer test waiver requests for the full-time MBA 2021-2022 admissions season.

MBA Admissions Academy

Episode 9: Standardized Testing: GMAT, GRE, Waivers & More