Top MBA Programs Offering GMAT Test Waivers (Should You Ask For One?)

September 03, 2021 | by Caroline Diarte Edwards

An increasing number of MBA programs offer the option to submit your application without a GMAT or GRE score. Should you apply in round one without a GMAT score? Or should you take the GMAT and see how you do, and apply in round two?

It’s a question we field a lot, especially in the final countdown to MBA application submission. Our advice, invariably, is it depends.

Broadly speaking, we advise against seeking a test waiver if you can credibly take the exam. Unless you’re a truly exceptional candidate with an amazing story – and have a really good reason for not taking the test – you should plan on submitting with your scores.

Given that some testing centers are still closed, and the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, several business schools are offering test waivers in the spirit of being flexible and understanding of extenuating circumstances.

Caution: Whether you can leave your test score out of the application or not if you’re already taken the test depends on the school. With INSEAD, for example, if you have taken both the GMAT and the GRE, you must report both sets of scores – you can’t decide to just report one test and not the other because you want to pick the test where you got the best result. If you’re on the fence about taking it or not and whether to report, be sure to check the wording on the relevant application forms where the test is optional.

In the meantime, here’s a list of top business schools with flexible exam policies for the 2021-2022 MBA admissions cycle.

Top Business Schools Offering GMAT and/or GRE Exam Waivers

MIT Sloan: Applicants with concerns about “safely being able to access the exam” can request a test waiver (response in 1-3 business days). If the wavier is approved, and the candidate is admitted, no test will be required.

MIT Sloan Fellows: Allows candidates to submit their application without the test and review their submitted material as is and without negative inferences. Admitted candidates will not be required to take a test.

NYU Stern: Candidates whose ability to prepare for or take the exam is impeded by the pandemic may request a test waiver, but must be able to offer strong examples of academic readiness.

Virginia Darden: Requests for a test waiver granted on a case-by-case basis, and accepts a number of standardized tests, including GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment (EA), MCAT and LSAT.

Michigan Ross – Applicants can request a waiver “in response to hardships caused by the pandemic” (see website for the details), and may submit the GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, PCAT, or DAT.

Cornell Johnson / Cornell Tech: Candidates may request a GMAT/GRE test waiver without negative bias. Instead you must email MBA admissions “a short statement for why you will flourish in our rigorous academic environment.”

Carnegie Mellon Tepper: Candidates concerned they cannot take the test “under normal, standard conditions” can apply for a GMAT/GRE/EA waiver.

Texas McCombs: Allows candidates to petition to receive “a special test score exception” if unable to take the GMAT, GRE, EA, or TOEFL exams in-person or online.

Want more advice?

To learn more about why the GMAT matters to top business schools and how best to prepare, read our related articles:

Updated September 3, 2021


Fortuna Admissions Co-Founder and Director Caroline Diarte Edwards is a former Director of Admissions, Marketing and Financial Aid for the INSEAD MBA program. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.

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