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Do I Have to Take The GMAT to Get Into a Top Business School?

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

GMATAre you hoping to get into a top-ranked business school? You have probably heard a lot about the importance of the GMAT.

If you’ve been out of school for a while, or have a lot of anxiety when it comes to taking tests, you may be concerned about whether you have to take the GMAT to get into a good business school.

Do I Have to Take The GMAT to Get Into a Top Business School?

The truth is that for the most part, top-ranked business schools still want to see students with strong GMAT scores. But there is no reason to worry.

There are many options for students to take an alternative test, improve their GMAT score, and develop a strong business school application despite a weak test score.

Testing Alternatives to The GMAT

Until relatively recently, the GMAT was the only test which was seriously considered by MBA admissions committees, especially at top-ranked business schools.

Fortunately for students who struggle with the GMAT, these days the GRE is another option which is growing widely in acceptance.

In addition to the GRE, some schools offer a different testing alternative, typically unique to each school.

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For example, Spain’s IE Business School accepts the GMAT, the GRE, or the IE Global Admissions Test for acceptance into the full-time MBA program.

Getting a GMAT Waiver

Occasionally, students with exceptional qualifications are able to get a waiver which allows for business school admissions without a GMAT score.

However, these waivers are rarely granted and the circumstances do need to be exceptional.

Waivers are most commonly granted for students entering Executive MBA programs who have extensive work experience, or who are already working at an executive level.

In those cases, top business schools are likely to look far more closely at work history as a part of the admissions process, and to be less concerned with a GMAT score.

Students who hold a previous master’s degree or professional certification (such as a CPA license) may on rare occasions be granted a GMAT waiver as well, depending on the program they’re seeking entry to.

Improving Your GMAT Score

If you’re concerned about needing a GMAT score to get in to a top-ranked MBA program, it’s most likely because you are concerned about getting a good GMAT score.

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You may also be concerned about the time and expense required to improve your GMAT score before applying to business school.

Fortunately, with a little forethought and planning it is very possible to do well on the GMAT without spending a huge amount of money.

Creating a solid study schedule, using the free resources available to you, and practicing timing strategy as well as content mastery are all great ways to improve your GMAT score.

Creating a Great MBA Application

Finally, it is important to remember that your GMAT score is not the only – or even the most important – part of your business school application.

While schools like to see applicants with strong MBA scores, what they are really looking for are students who will excel in their program and in their post-degree careers.

If you’re concerned that your GMAT score won’t reflect your true potential, make sure that the rest of your application highlights your strengths extensively.

Give yourself the time you need to write an exceptional MBA essay.

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Get recommendation letters that not only compliment you, but explain clearly why you are a great candidate for business school.

Take on additional projects at work, or volunteer in a capacity that demonstrates your leadership skills.

Getting into business school is not supposed to be easy. Going the extra mile to develop an exceptional application – even if your GMAT score is a bit weak – is just another way to demonstrate that you are world-class MBA material.

Your Turn

If you feel that you’re able to get a good GMAT score, then it’s worth spending some extra time and money to ensure that you get there. But for students who don’t excel on the GMAT, the GRE is a valid option.

Creating a strong business school application package overall is the best strategy to get in to the school of your choice.

Do you still have questions about how to improve your GMAT scores, or how to write a strong MBA essay? We are here to help. You can always reach out to us at for more information.