Your Guide to Getting a GMAT Waiver

frustrated student

If you are interested in earning your MBA, consider looking into getting a waiver so you don’t have to take the GMAT. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a test taken when you are considering applying to a graduate management program, such as an MBA, and assesses your analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English.

It’s important to keep in mind that most people have to take this exam, but there are a select few who can forego it because of their unique circumstances. There are some MBA programs that don’t require this sort of testing, but they are few and far between.

Before sitting for the GMAT, consider these alternative approaches:

Replacement Exams

You will find that some colleges have their own exam that you can take in place of the GMAT. While this might not seem like it’s any better, it can certainly make a big difference in your application strength. This exam covers a lot of crucial information that that the school specifically wants their MBA candidates to know.

Write a Letter

Try writing a letter to the school's admissions officers requesting a GMAT waiver. Keep in mind this should be done prior to submitting your final application, as schools may not consider your application complete without the waiver already approved.

When you are going about writing your letter, keep in mind the requirements of the program you are trying to get into. Make sure that your letter has a clear and concise message, and offer examples of the skills you already have which make it unnecessary for you to take this exam. It can't hurt to ask, and you might just get the waiver you need.

Show Your Professional Growth

Anyone who wants a GMAT waiver will need to demonstrate their professional skills. Ask your references for letters of recommendation that show off your experience, competencies and solid leadership skills (a must to include!). Consider also looking for programs that are open about providing waivers in reward for extensive professional expertise.


The GRE or Graduate Record Examination is an exam that some business schools are using in place of the GMAT. Some colleges use students’ scores from this exam to determine their current knowledge and abilities. If you are looking to get a GMAT waiver, you should take the time to find a school that uses these scores instead. This is a standardized test that pretty much anyone who wants to get into a graduate school must take first.

Online Business Schools

There are quite a few reputable online business schools that do not require applicants to take the GMAT. Many students these days are opting to go for their MBA online, and it can be very convenient to say the least. But make sure you spend time exploring this option carefully. Online distance learning may be super convenient, but it's not always the best learning style for everyone.

Look To Your Undergrad School

When it comes to getting a GMAT waiver for working professionals, you might want to look to the school you attended for your undergraduate program. The school could provide you with a free waiver, but it all depends on where you went. Not all schools give out GMAT waivers, and not all schools accept waivers from undergrad programs.

Need-Based Waivers

Each school has its own criteria for determining which students are defined as “economically disabled”, but it could get you the waiver you need if the rules are in your favor. If you qualify for need-based financial assistance from your school, look into whether you also qualify for free waiver for this exam.

What it Means to Not Take the GMAT

It’s important that you know exactly how not taking the GMAT is going to impact you as an applicant. While it’s true that a lot of schools these days accept GREs and waivers, the GMAT remains the standardized exam that is accepted by business schools. Even when a school is GMAT-optional, spend some time learning about the program and talking to admitted students and admissions officers before making an informed decision.

The Bottom Line

When you are trying to get your MBA, getting a waiver for the GMAT is a possibility.

The most important thing to remember is to do your research and give yourself plenty of time. Don't assume that submitting a waiver request in lieu of test scores will be acceptable to an admissions officer. Read into all the FAQs, deadlines, and forums for the program to make sure you understand the rules of the admissions game. And don't disqualify a school from your application pool just because you can't obtain a waiver.

Not everyone ends up getting a waiver, but it is certainly still worth trying, and can save you quite a lot of time and frustration.

Good luck!