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The No-GMAT-Required MBA

woman in foreground raising hand in auditorium classroom
woman in foreground raising hand in auditorium classroom

What is a No-GMAT MBA?

For many years, business schools have required aspiring MBA students to complete the GMAT test and send their scores to the school as part of their application packet. The test results have been considered a measure of a person's readiness for business school.

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Like other standardized tests, the GMAT evaluates a person's knowledge and reasoning abilities. It is specifically tailored toward the kinds of skills needed to succeed in an MBA program.

Recently, however, many schools have been drifting away from requiring the GMAT. The movement to eliminate standardized testing of all kinds began at the undergraduate level, when California state schools stopped requiring ACTs and SATs, explains John Gibson, associate director of admissions at Purdue University Krannert School of Management. Some schools had concerns about inherent test biases, while others just felt the test wasn't the best indicator of the candidate's success, Gibson says.

The movement to eliminate standardized testing of all kinds began at the undergraduate level, when California state schools stopped requiring ACTs and SATs.

As opinions about standardized testing changed, schools began to reconsider the value of the GMAT. Then the Covid-19 pandemic emerged. Since the testing centers were closed, people had no way to take the GMAT, according to Gibson.

Many business schools have decided that they can evaluate the applicant's probable success in an MBA program by looking at other factors. Since the GMAT is only one component of the total application packet, many MBA programs prefer to put more weight on other qualifications, such as experience in business. People who don't do well on tests but shine in other areas may be disadvantaged by the GMAT requirement.

In addition, business schools are striving to diversify their student population, and programs without a GMAT requirement may open the doors international MBA candidates who have strengths and accomplishments that the test can't evaluate. 

"Schools are looking to increase the application pool," Gibson says. For many business schools, getting rid of the GMAT requirement is about "removing barriers to entry."

For many business schools, getting rid of the GMAT requirement is about removing barriers to entry.

Even so, many aspiring MBA students will take the GMAT anyway, just to keep their options open. Most people apply to more than one MBA program, and some of those programs may require the GMAT.

How Can I Strengthen My Application Without GMAT Scores?

Instead of the GMAT, some business schools are looking or alternative qualifiers, such as scores from other tests or work experience.

Are there Other Tests I Should Consider Instead of the GMAT?

Yes, some schools accept tests other than the GMAT as a consideration for acceptance, however, before taking an alternative test, check to see whether the schools you are applying to will accept it.

GRE: Many schools accept either the GMAT or the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). The GRE is a standardized test that evaluates a person's readiness for graduate school of any kind. "The GMAT is still the gold standard, but the GRE is growing in popularity," says Melody Jones, co-founder of Vantage Point MBA Admissions Counseling. She adds that the quantitative portion of the GRE may be "more forgiving" than the GMAT.

EA: The EA (Executive Assessment Test) was developed by GMAC (creators of the GMAT) and is similar to the GMAT but shorter in duration. Some schools may accept EA scores only in combination with work experience.

What About Waivers?

Some MBA programs routinely require the GMAT but will consider waivers for applicants who have a solid background in business management. Waivers were put in place at some schools after the pandemic started.

If you are hoping for a waiver, use caution. First, the waiver programs at some schools may be ending as conditions change with the pandemic. It might be a good idea to take the GMAT anyway, just in case the school reinstates the GMAT requirement before you have a chance to complete your application.

It might be a good idea to take the GMAT anyway, just in case the school reinstates the GMAT requirement before you have a chance to complete your application.

Secondly, the criteria to qualify for a waiver may be strict, and there is no guarantee your waiver request will be granted.

What Other Qualifications do Schools Consider

Some business schools don't require the GMAT and don't issue waivers, either; they have simply done away with a requirement for scores from any standardized test. Instead, they look at an applicant's other qualifications. These may include:

  • The strength of an undergraduate degree, such as a bachelor's degree in a business concentration and/or a high GPA
  • Work experience, especially in a management position
  • Impressive letters of recommendation
  • Clear and achievable career goals that align with the school's focus

Sometimes, MBA programs will admit students without GMAT scores, but ask them to take additional preparatory classes, especially in math, statistics, and finance, Gibson says. "We want to make sure you're academically ready," he says.

Who Does and Doesn't Require the GMAT?

The online form of the GMAT must be taken on your own computer, either a PC with Windows or a Mac. Your test will be proctored by a live person remotely, and you'll communicate with a camera and microphone.

Traditional, full-time, two-year MBA programs usually require the GMAT as part of their application process. This is especially true of the top-ranking business schools, where competition for admissions is fierce. A high GMAT score can give you a competitive edge.

In contrast, online, accelerated, and weekend programs often have no GMAT requirements. Many of these business schools are affiliated with reputable private schools and state universities.

How Do I Know if my School or Program Requires the GMAT?

You can easily find out whether a business school you are interested in requires the GMAT by looking at the school's website. The admissions requirements are generally listed on the MBA page.

If you don't see any information about the GMAT on the website, you can call or email the admissions department.

Are No-GMAT MBA Programs Still Accredited?

Accreditation assures the students they are enrolling in school that has been reviewed by a neutral party and has been shown to meet standards of quality.

Since an accreditation review is conducted holistically, it examines many factors of an MBA program, not just admissions standards. The quality of the school's curriculum, faculty qualifications, graduate rate, job placement, and other aspects of the MBA program all count toward accreditation.

The accrediting agencies do not specifically require the GMAT to be used as part of the application process. That means schools that don't require a GMAT are just ask likely to earn accreditation as schools that require the test.

Schools that don't require a GMAT are just ask likely to earn accreditation as schools that require the test.

"Requiring the GMAT is not an indication of whether it's a good or bad school," Gibson says.


karen hanson

Written and reported by:

Karen S. Hanson

Contributing Writer

melody jones

With professional insight from:

Melody Jones

Co-founder, Vantage Point MBA Admissions Counseling

john gibson

John Gibson

Associate Director of Admissions, Purdue University Krannert School of Management