After a 61% surge in applications to its full-time MBA program, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business is extending its GMAT and GRE test waiver policy for the 2021-2022 admissions season. The school attributes the substantial uptick in the number of applications this past year to its decision to waive standardized test scores for some applicants and for stepped-up admissions recruitment efforts.
The boost in volume will lead to a significant increase in this year’s entering MBA cohort. Kelley recently graduated a class of 135 full-time MBAs, though its second year class now numbers only 92 students. While still waiting for a few more admitted candidates to make up their minds, some 176 admitted students have notified Kelley that they intend to enroll this fall. About 37% of them have gotten in with a waiver, with the remaining 63% submitting either a GMAT or GRE test score.
Kelley is the third top 25 MBA program in the U.S. to extend its test waiver policies. Both the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business have already announced decisions to continue their GMAT/GRE waivers into the new admissions cycle. Darden says it received more than 1,300 requests for a test waiver from potential applicants in the past year. Roughly 13% of its next entering cohort of MBAs this fall will have enrolled with an approved test waiver.
TEST WAIVERS HAVE HELPED TO INCREASE DIVERSITY AND QUALITY
In 2020-2021 admissions cycle, some 67 of the top 100 business schools have now gone fully test-optional or are actively promoting test waiver policies. MBA admission officials insist that their admission standards have not declined as a result of the policy changes. Instead, they are relying on other parts of candidates’ applications to gain confidence that an applicant can handle the academic requirements of their programs.
James Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid for the full-time MBA program at Kelley, believes the waiver policy also helped to increase the diversity and quality of Kelley’s applicant pool. This fall’s cohort will boast students from more than 25 countries around the world.
Holmen says the school decided to extend waivers into the new cycle after “feeling that the information we were able to gain from other parts of the application enabled us to make good admission decisions.”
PUTTING MORE FOCUS ON UNDERGRADUATE RECORDS AND CERTIFICATIONS LIKE A CPA OR CFA
In valuating waiver requests, Holmen says his admissions team will focus on strong academic achievement in prior undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with particular attention to successful completion of quantitative and analytic coursework. Holding CPA or CFA certification (or their international equivalents) can also serve to demonstrate academic potential.
“It’s not always simply about what their official major was,” he says. “We have admitted fine arts majors who have taken quantitate electives to demonstrate their ability to be successful in a more rigorous curriculum. You have to take a real look at where they had their successes.”
Kelley is maintaining the exact same application deadline schedule for 2021-2022, with a round one deadline of Oct. 15th and a final fourth round deadline of April 15 for the incoming cohort in 2022.
MUST REQUEST A WAIVER TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE APPLICATION DEADLINES
Applicants who want to request a waiver typically need to do so a couple of weeks before each application deadline. The school promises to decide on those requests within a week. Deadlines for submission of waiver requests are as follows:
- Round one applicants: October 1
- Round two applicants: December 15
- Round three applicants: February 15
- Round four applicants: April 1
To request a GMAT/GRE waiver, you must complete the following two steps:
- Complete and submit our online information request form (to ensure that we have your most current contact information); and
- Submit via email (email@example.com) a current professional resume, your unofficial or official undergraduate transcripts (and graduate school transcripts, if applicable), and a brief statement (300 words or less) summarizing why you believe you qualify for a waiver.