MBA programs in the United States are making a sincere effort to accommodate the standardized testing capabilities of their business school applicants, both because of the global pandemic and a nationwide effort to be more inclusive in their admissions process.
A small number of business schools are going test optional, allowing students to waive the obligation to submit a GMAT or GRE score. At MIT’s Sloan, the waiver is unconditional. In some cases, such as UVA, UNC and UT Austin, students must submit justifications for not being able to test. In other instances, candidates must take additional action to secure the waiver. Michigan State’s Broad College of Business lets students bypass testing if they have at least four years of work experience and a strong professional recommendation. They must also attend an extra interview and complete online pre-requisite classes.
A select few programs are enabling students to submit standardized test scores instead of the GMAT or GRE, such as the Executive Assessment (EA). The EA is normally reserved for professionals applying to the Executive MBA program. The EA is a shortened version of the GMAT and is also administered by the GMAC. Like the GMAT, the EA is comprised of quantitative, verbal, and integrated reasoning sections; however, it is only 90 minutes in length. The EA is offered online this year, and official test scores can be sent to selected schools within 24 hours. Schools accepting the EA include Columbia, Duke, NYU, and Georgetown.
Some graduate admissions committees are even content to review student performance on the LSAT or MCAT to determine whether they would be good candidates for the school. UVA’s Darden, Michigan’s Ross, and NYU’s Stern have opted for this course of action.
The above policies that were implemented to support diversity and inclusion will remain after the pandemic is over, while those put in place as a response to the coronavirus will likely discontinue when things go back to “normal”. In short, there are many options available to business school applicants who tend to underperform on standardized tests, have COVID-related complications, or do not have the 100+ hours of additional time that is often needed to excel on the GMAT or GRE.
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