The 2021 Kaplan/Manhattan Prep business school admissions officers survey finds an evolving role for the GMAT®, GRE®, and Executive Assessment® in the business school admissions process, possibly giving applicants a strategic advantage*. According to admissions officers at nearly 100 full-time MBA programs across the United States, 67 percent currently waive the admissions exam requirement amid test taking challenges caused by the COVID-10 pandemic, including 34 percent who say their school may make the waiver permanent. But at the same time, 88 percent of exam-waiving schools say that submitting a competitive admissions exam score helps a prospective student’s application; these admissions officers explained their reasoning:
- “Anything an applicant can do to stand out from the pack is helpful. A good GMAT score shows us that they are willing to invest time to prepare for the MBA and that they have the baseline knowledge to begin.”
- “There is too much variance in GPA scores, and letters of recommendation are not always an accurate reflection of the applicant's potential success. The standardized tests, even though they have their flaws, are useful in admissions decisions.”
- “Our scholarships are based on GPA, GMAT score, and interview experience, so strong GMAT scores have a very important impact on admissions and scholarship offers.”
- “In situations where an applicant's GPA is lower than we would typically consider, strong scores might lead to us giving the applicant additional consideration.”
- “With so few taking the tests, a GMAT/GRE score can really make a candidate stand out.”
“While the admissions process remains fierce and top business schools are reporting record numbers of applicants, in some ways the admissions process has never been more flexible, and aspiring MBAs would be wise to take advantage of that,” said Brian Carlidge, vice president of admissions programs, Kaplan. “A good strategy for prospective students is submitting applications to a range of schools, including ‘safety schools’ and ‘reach schools.’ If you take the GMAT, GRE or EA, those scores are ‘for your eyes only’ unless you decide to share them. If your score is likely to help you get into a certain school, submit your score, but if you think it would hurt your chances of getting into a different school, then keep it to yourself and let other pieces of your application like your GPA and work experience speak to your strengths.”
The Kaplan/Manhattan Prep survey also finds that admissions officers almost unanimously view applicants who take the GMAT Online (97 percent) and GRE At Home (97 percent) no differently than applicants who take the exam in-person at a testing service.
“This is good news for applicants, especially since the online versions of the exams have become a permanent option,” said Carlidge. “Business school applicants can now be fully confident that they won’t be at any admissions disadvantage if they decide to take the exam from the comfort of their own home. Just focus on getting the best score possible.”
For more information about Kaplan’s survey, contact Russell Schaffer at email@example.com or 917.822.8190.
*Admissions officers from 96 full-time business schools across the United States were polled by e-mail between September 2021 and October 2021. Among those polled are 24 of the top 100 programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
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