More Than A Third Of B-Schools No Longer Require The GMAT

More than a third of business schools have suspended the testing requirement for all applicants this year due to COVID, according to a new survey of admission officers by Kaplan. According to admissions officers at more than 100 business schools across the United States, 36% say they are not requiring either the GMAT or the GRE for all applicants.

While the competition to get into a top-ranked business school remains fierce, the survey also found that now may be the most convenient time in recent memory to apply. That’s because 82% say that due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, they have made their admissions process more flexible this cycle.

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business recently joined a growing number of prominent full-time MBA programs that are waiving GMAT and GRE test scores from its admissions process. Kelley is the fourth school with a top 25 ranked MBA to offer waivers due to the COVID pandemic, joining MIT Sloan, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. At least nine of the top 50 MBA programs are now essentially test-optional.


While that is far from the 36% level found in the survey, Kaplan polled admissions officers from 104 full-time business schools across the United States. More respondents to the survey are likely to be from schools ranked outside the top 50 that have more progressive admission policies. Kaplan, which did the poll by e-mail in October 2020, notes that among the respondents were 15 of the top 50 MBA programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The survey had a response rate of 26%.

Besides the suspension of the GMAT and GRE for all candidates by 36% of the surveyed schools by Kaplan, another 24% of the responding admission officials say they have suspended the requirement for some applicants; 18% say they have kept the requirement in place; 17% say they have suspended the requirement and may keep it permanent; and 6 percent say they are considering suspending the requirement.

Survey respondents also cited a number of additional  ways that business schools have become more flexible this cycle, such as:

  • Dropping the application fee

  • Waiving the deposit fee

  • Allowing applicants to submit scores from the significantly shorter Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or GRE

  • Relaxing the number of work years requirement

  • Extending application deadlines


“This is an admissions cycle like no other and business schools recognize this, which is why they are taking steps to make the process as student-friendly as possible,” says Brian Carlidge, vice president of admissions programs at Kaplan, in a statement. “Applicants should keep in mind, though, that although most business schools are taking steps to streamline the process, it won’t be any easier to get into business school than in recent years. In fact, with applications surging at MBA programs across the U.S., it’s more important than ever to put together the strongest application possible to stand out from the competition.”

The survey results come on the heels of a recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, conducted in August and the first half of September, showing a massive global rebound in the number of business school applications, possibly signaling stronger than usual competition to get in. In the U.S. specifically, 66 percent of programs reported an increase, up from only 40 percent the previous year.

“It’s surely not how business schools wanted it to happen, but the pandemic and a struggling economy that it created have been a lifeline to many full-time MBA programs, which have been struggling for applicants for a number of years. From what they tell us, they think this application surge will continue,” adds Carlidge. ”And when thinking about possible increased competition, it’s important to consider both the number of applications and the quality of applicants. Prospective students could just be applying to more schools than they did a year ago and they could be applying to more reach schools. And we still don’t know what their professional experience is, what their GPAs are, and how they scored on the admissions tests. Knowing that data would tell us a lot more about the state of play.”

Kaplan will release additional findings from its 2020 business school admissions officers survey over the coming months. Other issues explored include the potential boycotting of the rankings, how the Black Lives Matter movement affected admissions, and other topics in diversity. Kaplan has conducted this survey annually for the past 15 years to ensure that pre-MBA students get the most accurate and up-to-date information on the issues that impact them most.


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