The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) has been long considered one of the most important — and sometimes most dreaded — requirements for getting into business school.
However, many MBA programs recognize the value of professional career experience when it comes to the admissions process. In such instances, a GMAT waiver may be offered to those applicants who fit the bill.
Business schools in the US that accept low scores or a GMAT waiver
- University of South Florida (Tampa, FL) – applicants with 5 or more years of managerial experience may request a GMAT/GRE waiver
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GE)
- Hult International Business School (San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; New York City, NY) – Accepts Hult Business Assessment Test instead of GMAT
- Harvard Extension School (Cambridge, MA)
- Kogod School of Business (Washington, DC) – possible GMAT waiver
If you don't meet the requirements of America's top MBAs, you can still use other skills or experiences to replace the GMAT. If you're pursuing this route, here are 4 steps that will help you achieve that:
1. Find out what are the options for replacing the GMAT
Business schools that offer GMAT waivers typically do so because they believe the criteria being tested can be demonstrated in other ways, namely through professional — and sometimes military — experience.
While you may be relieved that you don’t have to sit down and take the exam, you’ll do well to understand why many schools find it so valuable. By understanding what areas the exam covers and embracing a GMAT mindset, you’ll be better prepared to frame your application process to highlight your strengths.
Some business schools provide their own tests you can take instead of the GMAT.
2. Write a great letter
If you’d like to receive a GMAT waiver, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is write a letter to ask for one. There are many sites that can help you with this task, but overall, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Know the formatting requirements of the specific program you’re applying to.
- Open with a clear statement of the letter’s purpose.
- Clearly demonstrate through your professional work experience that you have the skills that would be reflected in the GMAT.
- Provide specific examples to support your claims.
- Find some examples of GMAT waiver letters that others have used successfully.
3. Make your professional experience stand out
Online MBA programs that offer a GMAT waiver value work experience that indicates excellent analytic and quantitative abilities. In fact, by waiving the GMAT, they’re acknowledging that real-world experience may be more important than a numerical score.
Throughout your application process, portray your professional experience in a manner that reflects how you applied your sharply-honed abilities in the roles that you’ve held.
4. Showcase your personal development
In an article for U.S. News & World Report, contributor Stacy Blackman says that when applying to an MBA program after years in the workforce, it’s important to show how you’ve grown throughout your career. She recommends a few tips to keep in mind:
- Show career progression that clearly reflects your professional growth. Blackman says you should also coach the people who recommend you to “specifically address this upward trajectory” in their recommendation letters. The same should be reflected on your resume, which should only include your most important roles and what they entailed.
- Show strong leadership, which should be reflected in your waiver request. Blackman says that your essays should include specific instances that create a vivid picture of your abilities: “You want to show how you always attempt to do more than a good job and strive to leave your mark on whatever situation you’re in.”
- Choose the right type of program that can be tailored to your professional and personal needs. Blackman says that since business schools want applicants with diverse interests and backgrounds, it’s important to “make sure all of those great qualities stand front and center in your MBA application.”
Applying to a business school with work experience can be a big leg-up, but it’s important to know how to maximize that potential. Make sure you are highlighting the real value of that experience in your application.