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Online MBA, No GMAT: Writing a GMAT Waiver Letter

26 Apr
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To avoid a standardized testing experience that can be expensive, time-consuming, and generally speaking, a real headache, many online MBA candidates seek out programs that offer the opportunity to apply with no GMAT scores. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many business schools to reevaluate their entrance exam requirements, it’s likely that the GMAT will return to a place of relative prominence in many MBA applications as society moves back toward a pre-2020 normal.

If you still want to skip the hassle of the GMAT and rely instead on the strength of your educational and professional background to wow your MBA admissions committee, you may choose to pursue a GMAT waiver. If this is the case, be sure to check out our tips for crafting a GMAT waiver letter that leaves no doubt as to your qualifications for business school and your readiness to dive right in without wasting time and money on a standardized test.

Know the Waiver Requirements

MBA programs will grant GMAT waivers for a variety of reasons, and they typically detail their guidelines for requesting one alongside their application requirements. Generally speaking, these GMAT waiver requirements are intended to allow applicants to supplant their standardized test scores with other evidence from their academic and professional careers that can prove their readiness for graduate business education. To this end, some schools will identify target undergraduate GPAs, a minimum number of years of professional work experience, or specific academics studied at previous institutions as suitable justification for requesting a GMAT waiver.

Others, like the Online MBA program at Santa Clara University, take a more holistic approach to evaluating waiver requests. This means that they prefer to review candidates for the waiver as the sum of their accomplishments, and as the total person who has achieved them, rather than as merely a set of data. If this is the case, you’ll certainly want to spend some time thinking about how you present yourself in your GMAT waiver letter in order to best frame yourself as an eager learner and a capable candidate who is ready for the rigors of an MBA program.

Emphasize Your Experience

One of the key signifiers that you can forego the GMAT is evidence that you’ve already begun building the skills in your workplace that you will further hone in your MBA program. Professional business experience can go a long way toward convincing your admissions committee that you have what it takes to pursue a graduate degree. Generally speaking, the more time you’ve spent facing real business challenges and contributed to an organization’s success, the more likely you will be allowed to apply to business school without standardized test scores.

Two types of professional experience should be mentioned specifically. First, any roles or responsibilities that have asked you to demonstrate leadership or decision-making will show that you are serious about a career path that leads to upper management. And second, any evidence you have of your technical or quantitative skills will demonstrate your ability to successfully handle MBA coursework that some less-prepared candidates may find tricky.

Be Professional and Persuasive

The tone of your GMAT waiver letter should be clear and confident without coming off as arrogant. Your admissions committee will assess not only your business aptitude and experience, but also your professional maturity. You want to demonstrate that you would not only be a successful student in your MBA program, but an asset to your classmates and the greater community as well.

Keep It Short

Above all, never lose sight of what this document is and what it is not. It’s not a cover letter, nor a personal statement nor a space to rehash your resume. This is simply a succinct, to-the-point argument for your qualifications, not an extended narrative about your personal or professional journey. Avoid editorializing with unnecessary adjectives, and trust that your accomplishments will speak for themselves.

Skip the GMAT for your Online MBA application at SCU.

The Silicon Valley Online MBA program at Santa Clara University offers a no-GMAT pathway to admission for qualified applicants. Speak to an Admissions Advisor to learn more about our GMAT/GRE waiver options, and check out our other application tips for perfecting your resume and requesting effective letters of recommendation.

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