Getting into any university program consists of a number of steps that can discourage applicants. Some of the application requirements for graduate school are especially daunting. For many prospective students, the standardized exams like the GMAT cause the most stress of all, leaving many to wonder if they can find a way to forgo the exams and still get an advanced degree. While many schools still require the GMAT, some schools have started to look at different ways to evaluate incoming students, and with enough realistic research it is possible to get an MBA without GMAT.
GMAT anxiety stems from many different sources. Many students have had trouble with time pressure and standardized tests and still have a bad taste in their mouth from those experiences. Practice tests and training might help people in this category overcome test anxiety. However, other test takers with diagnosed conditions can often get exemptions from time limits or receive other accommodations before considering a waiver. Also, quite reasonably, even other students wince at the price, which just adds to all of the other costs of the application process.
For those who still don’t feel like the test represents the best path to admission, options are available. Due to a number of reasons, institutions of higher education have begun taking a broader view of applicants’ capabilities. Certain administrators lament the use of standardized tests that do not really test an applicant’s true abilities and prefer a more well-rounded view of a candidacy.
A quick search around the web will turn up business school programs that do not require a GMAT score. That being said, accreditation is still important. So, applicants should check the school’s accreditation and make sure that the degree the program offers will be worth the time and effort to earn it. This goes for both online programs and traditional on-campus programs.
Programs take several things into consideration when deciding to exempt an applicant from the GMAT. Having a significant amount of professional experience opens the most doors in this regard. The number of years required for a waiver will depend on the program. Typically, though, administrators look for somewhere in the range of two to five years of relevant professional experience.
Another successful strategy for avoiding the test involves seeking out specialized MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT. Some schools, for example, require the test in all but one or two highly focused MBA programs. Programs like these could eliminate the need for the test more easily than other methods. Additionally, applicants who have already taken the LSAT, GRE or other standardized test should ask schools whether they can accept those tests instead of the GMAT.
Surprisingly to some, an applicant’s undergraduate GPA, internships and other achievements often serve as a replacement for the GMAT. Of course, this may require a little bit more selling to an institution, as they want to see a picture of a well-rounded, ambitious individual whose past achievements predict success at the graduate level. The same applies for those who want to parlay their professional experience into a waiver. Instead of a standardized test, a complete portfolio of a student’s relevant successes, experience and activities can build confidence among admissions officers regarding that student’s ability to succeed in graduate school.
Students often overlook another great possibility for GMAT free graduate school entrance: studying abroad. The same caveats about accreditation and the like apply in foreign countries, too. But, schools abroad often have their own ways of assessing new students. This can open up new and exciting opportunities beyond just waiving the GMAT. Students doing a degree abroad will also benefit from international and intercultural experience. In fact, students usually don’t have to stray too far from home. Neighboring countries often offer the degrees most compatible in an applicant’s home country.
It is important to keep in mind that some schools require extra courses before matriculation for students who opt out of the GMAT. This helps ensure that their quantitative skills have remained up to the level necessary to excel in an MBA program. Ultimately, schools want to find students with adequate math skills for their programs, so it would behoove students to do some review on their own as well. Some programs leave the decision to waive the GMAT exam to the discretion of a dean or director, so getting to know the school and developing relationships does pay off.
These themes will keep coming back as applicants look for ways to pursue their MBA without the GMAT. Schools are looking for people who have the drive and persistence to overcome the inevitable hurdles they will encounter in graduate school and in a work environment. They also highly value technical experience and highly-trained professionals who have demonstrated their aptitudes during their careers. Waiver or exemption requirements definitely play a part, but showing the core traits B-schools desire remains the most powerful tool for prospective students during the application process.