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Is the GMAT a Relic in a Post-Pandemic World?

Students prepare to take a GMAT

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic imposed restrictions on testing sites and on-campus activities disrupting the university admissions process across the world. Suddenly, universities that weren’t equipped for online education faced the difficulty of transitioning students to distance learning. Standardized tests like the GMAT were canceled for some time until an online exam option was made available and in-person testing sites were retrofitted for safe exam proctoring. Many universities responded to these barriers by adjusting their admissions criteria and offering GMAT waivers.

There’s no doubt the pandemic had a lasting effect on various industries, including higher education, though it’s difficult to tell whether these changes are temporary or lasting. If admissions committees can successfully recruit high-caliber MBA candidates without standardized testing, could the GMAT become a relic in a post-pandemic world?

How the GMAT exam works

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a business school entrance exam that helps students gain a competitive edge during the admissions process. Many universities use MBA candidates’ GMAT score as a minimum qualification for consideration to enter prestigious business and management master’s programs. Undergraduates considering attending business school had to start thinking about taking the GMAT test early, as most students require months of preparation and study to pass with a competitive score.

Due to its adoption by university admissions programs, the test itself spurred a college test preparation industry for business school. The GMAT is the most recognized and widely used standardized test for entrance into MBA programs. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is the owner and administrator of the GMAT test and carries the mission to provide the tools and information necessary for schools and students to discover and evaluate each other. According to GMAC, the GMAT is utilized by more than 7,000 graduate programs worldwide, with more than 200,000 candidates taking the GMAT exam each year. With the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, the GMAC began allowing students to complete the GMAT online. The GMAT online exam takes the same amount of time to complete and covers the same material as the traditional GMAT exam.

The GMAT exam is designed to evaluate MBA candidates’ analytical, writing, quantitative, reading and verbal skills. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, which means the GMAT exam pattern adapts to the test-takers performance while being conducted. If the test-taker answers a question incorrectly, the exam will offer an easier question and vice versa when a test-taker answers a question correctly. When students complete the exam, they receive a total of five scores on the GMAT exam in these sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (0 to 6 points): How well did you think critically and communicate your ideas?
  • Integrated Reasoning (1 to 8 points): How well were you able to analyze data and evaluate information presented in multiple formats?
  • Quantitative Reasoning (0 to 60 points): What was your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills?
  • Verbal Reasoning (0 to 60 points): How well did you read and understand written material, evaluate arguments and correct written material to conform to standard written English?
  • Total Score (200 to 800 points): The GMAT exam bases the total score on the accuracy of students’ answers and the difficulty level of the questions answered.

Pros and cons of online MBA programs that do not require GMAT scores

MBA admissions committees use various factors to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a business school master’s program. Many business schools use GMAT results as a reliable indicator of whether a candidate will perform well in an MBA program. The GMAT provides a standardized view of prospective students’ candidacy and plays a role in MBA rankings. However, the GMAT is not the only aspect taken into consideration during the admissions process. With the demand for online MBA programs, especially during the pandemic, many graduate admissions teams don’t require the GMAT or allow applicants to waive the GMAT based on their work and professional experience.

There are advantages to waiving the GMAT for prospective MBA students. Allowing for a GMAT waiver or dismissing it altogether will enable schools to weigh their applicant pool more purposefully, which opens doors for a more diverse student population. Even without a GMAT, universities can recruit the type of students who can meet the standards of a challenging curriculum. Online MBA students are interested in a complete student experience that will prepare them for a lucrative and successful career. Trends in graduate enrollment show that students choose an MBA degree program based on convenience and job readiness and weigh their importance alongside school prestige and location. With an online MBA, students can continue building a career while pursuing higher education and aren’t required to take a two-year break to go back to school. Students also achieve greater access to various MBA programs and aren’t forced to uproot their family and move to a university town.

There are some trade-offs to waiving the GMAT for an online program. Without a GMAT requirement, schools cannot use it as a standardized measurement for incoming applicants, which means that scaling down a large applicant pool may be more difficult. It doesn’t work in the favor of strong test-takers, as well. If a student receives a high GMAT score, they cannot use it to their advantage if a university doesn’t require it for admission into the program. Still, these drawbacks are minimal in comparison to the benefits. Waiving the GMAT allows students with test anxiety to be on the same playing field as other students. Removing the GMAT requirement also alleviates racial and gender biases and allows admissions committee members to evaluate students based on different academic and professional factors.

Options for getting a GMAT waiver

In recent years, online MBA programs have offered a GMAT waiver, allowing students to forgo submission of GMAT test results. A GMAT waiver would mean MBA candidates aren’t required to take the GMAT exam. Avoiding the GMAT is advantageous for online MBA applicants because many prospective students opt out of business school altogether due to the time, labor and resources required to prepare and study for the GMAT exam. Online MBA programs recognize the value and importance of professional experience, and the enormous investment students make to obtain a master’s degree.

Each university has its policy regarding a GMAT requirement. Schools can waive the GMAT exam based on a student’s professional background, years of experience, bachelor’s degree or emphasis, undergraduate GPA or other factors. Without a GMAT requirement, an online MBA program typically evaluates prospective students based on this admissions criteria:

  • A completed graduate school application.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • Transcripts and undergraduate GPA.
  • Resume.
  • Prerequisite courses.

By waiving the GMAT requirement, universities focus on other aspects of an application and remove the typical standardized testing barriers.

Top online MBA programs that do not require GMAT scores

The novel coronavirus forced full-time MBA programs to move courses from traditional classrooms to online forums. While distance learning was an adjustment for business administration programs across the world, there are many benefits to completing an online MBA program, whether it’s an executive MBA, an accelerated MBA or a traditional MBA program. When determining the degree’s value of an online master’s program, prospective students must evaluate schools based on how the graduate program will prepare them for the future and maximize their return-on-investment.

The University of Tulsa (TU) Collins College of Business offers an online MBA program that helps students gain the tools needed to thrive in a versatile career. The program is designed to teach students through real-world experiences and connect MBA candidates with industry leaders. The program is offered entirely online, which enables students by providing them with maximum convenience by better accommodating the needs of working professionals. Online courses are conducted synchronously via video conference, and students can view course content at their convenience. The online MBA consists of 37 credits, and students complete the program on a part-time basis within 24 months. Respected TU faculty who are leaders in their fields developed the rigorous MBA course material. The engaging curriculum is designed to allow students to gain real-world insights with practical applications.

The Collins College of Business advantage features intimate class sizes, business career placement services, a strong alumni network and access to unparalleled employment opportunities. Online students have access to the same student resources offered to on-campus peers. The Center for Career Development and Professional Engagement reported the 2019-20 Collins College of Business online MBA cohort achieved 95 percent job placement after graduation. Graduates receive an average salary increase of 39 percent after graduating. With no GMAT requirement, these traits help unlock TU’s ability to attract top-tier MBA candidates and take a more thorough look at applicants than competing programs.

The Collins College of Business Advantage

The Collins College of Business online MBA prepares students to thrive in their careers while tackling today’s most significant business challenges. The Collins College of Business advantage ensures students will be prepared to lead the future of business, regardless of whether they completed a GMAT.

With the online MBA, students aren’t required to break from their careers or relocate their families to the Tulsa campus. Online students have access to esteemed faculty and student resources to become better equipped for the future. Discover how an online MBA from the University of Tulsa can help you achieve your career goals by reaching out to an admissions counselor today.

Learn more about the online MBA at TU.



Learn more about The University of Tulsa online MBA program