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Universities going test-optional for GRE/GMAT

In recent times, a notable shift has taken place in the world of university admissions. Many universities, particularly in the United States, have been adopting test-optional policies for standardized exams like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Several factors direct this change and have important implications for prospective students and the education landscape.

Universities going test-optional for GRE/GMAT
Source: idp

What Does Test-Optional Mean?

A test-optional policy means that applicants are not required to submit standardized test scores as a part of their application for admission. Historically, GRE/GMAT have been crucially important components of graduate and business school applications. However, the shift to test-optional policies means that students have a choice whether or not to submit their scores, with their application still being considered complete and evaluated even if they opt not to provide them.

Reasons for the Switch to Test-Optional Policies:

Many factors have contributed to the extensive adoption of test-optional policies by universities:

1. Access And Equity:

One primary reason for adopting test-optional policies is the longing to increase access to higher education. Standardized tests can be barriers for underrepresented and marginalized groups, including low-income students and minority populations. Test–optional policies focus on providing all students equal opportunities despite their ability to access test preparation resources.

2. COVID-19 Pandemic:

The global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the management

of standardized tests, thus making it difficult for many students to opt for

GRE/GMAT as a response, therefore universities temporarily incorporated test-optional

policies. Some countries still follow this trend, recognizing that the pandemic

highlighted the suitability of alternative assessment methods.

3. Holistic Admissions:

Universities are steadily understanding the importance of a holistic admission process. Now, they wish to evaluate applicants based on a range of criteria, not just their test

scores. This approach institutions to consider an applicant's work experience, letter of recommendation, personal statements, and other factors that better reflect their potential as students.

4. Research on Test Validity:

Ongoing research into the validity and power of standardized tests have raised queries about their usefulness in identifying students who will succeed in graduate or business programs

Implications for Prospective Students:

Prospective students should consider the following implications of the test-optional trend:

1. Flexibility

Test–optional policies give students the flexibility to decide whether to submit scores or not. This implies that those who have strong scores can still showcase them. However, those who believe their scores don't reflect their true potential can opt not to submit them.

2. Holistic Application Approach:

With the standardized test scores gaining less importance in the admission process. Students should aim at crafting compelling personal statements, securing solid letters of

recommendation and therefore highlighting all the relevant experiences and


3. Research University Policies:

Not all universities have adopted test-optional policies, and the extent of their policies might differ. Prospective students should research the admission policies of each university they are interested in and make decisions wisely.

4. Consider the Program:

Different academic programs within a university may have different policies. Business schools, for example, may still place importance on GMAT scores, while other graduate programs are more lenient. It is crucial to research each program's specific requirements.


To conclude, the shift towards the test-optional policies for the GRE and

GMAT is a remarkable development in university admissions. It reflects an

expanding recognition of the need for a more equitable and holistic admissions process.

Prospective students should notably consider the policies of the universities and programs they are interested in to make informed decisions about whether to submit their standardized test scores.

This change provides students with greater flexibility and evaluates applicants more comprehensively.

We know and understand that the application process can be overwhelming, so we are here for you. The study abroad experts at Hello Study Global are there for you every step of the way. From preparing for entrance exams to college applications, we will guide you to success.

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