Kaplan Survey: Most MBA Programs Say They’ve Made the Application Process More Flexible, Suspended the GMAT®/GRE® Requirement, Amid COVID-Related Challenges

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190

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New York, NY (December 2, 2020) — The competition to get into business school, especially a top ranked one, will always remain fierce, but according to a new Kaplan survey, now may be the most convenient time in recent memory to apply*. According to admissions officers at more than 100 business schools across the United States, 82 percent say that due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, they have made their admissions process more flexible this cycle. 

When asked specifically about the role that the GMAT or GRE play in their school’s 2020-2021 admissions cycle, 36 percent say they’ve suspended the testing requirement for all applicants; 24 percent say they have suspended the requirement for some applicants; 18 percent say they have kept the requirement in place; 17 percent say they have suspended the requirement and may keep it permanent; and 6 percent say they are considering suspending the requirement.

Survey respondents also cited a number of additional  ways that business schools have become more flexible this cycle, such as:

  • Dropping the application fee
  • Waiving the deposit fee
  • Allowing applicants to submit scores from the significantly shorter Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or GRE
  • Relaxing the number of work years requirement
  • Extending application deadlines

“This is an admissions cycle like no other and business schools recognize this, which is why they are taking steps to make the process as student-friendly as possible,” said Brian Carlidge, vice president of admissions programs, Kaplan. “Applicants should keep in mind, though, that although most business schools are taking steps to streamline the process, it won’t be any easier to get into business school than in recent years. In fact, with applications surging at MBA programs across the U.S., it’s more important than ever to put together the strongest application possible to stand out from the competition.”

The survey results come on the heels of a recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, conducted in August and the first half of September, showing a massive global rebound in the number of business school applications, possibly signaling stronger than usual competition to get in. In the U.S. specifically, 66 percent of programs reported an increase, up from only 40 percent the previous year. 

“It’s surely not how business schools wanted it to happen, but the pandemic and struggling economy that it created have been a lifeline to many full-time MBA programs, which have been struggling for applicants for a number of years. From what they tell us, they think this application surge will continue,” added Carlidge.  ”And when thinking about possible increased competition, it’s important to consider both the number of applications and the quality of applicants. Prospective students could just be applying to more schools than they did a year ago and they could be applying to more reach schools. And we still don’t know what their professional experience is, what their GPAs are, and how they scored on the admissions tests. Knowing that data would tell us a lot more about the state of play.”

Kaplan will release additional findings from its 2020 business school admissions officers survey over the coming months. Other issues explored include the potential boycotting of the rankings, how the Black Lives Matter movement affected admissions, and other topics in diversity. Kaplan has conducted this survey annually for the past 15 years to ensure that pre-MBA students get the most accurate and up-to-date information on the issues that impact them most.

For more information about Kaplan’s survey, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 917.822.8190.

*Admissions officers from 104 full-time business schools across the United States were polled by e-mail in October 2020. Among those polled are 15 of the top 50 programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number. 

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About Kaplan

Kaplan is a global educational services company that provides individuals, universities, and businesses with a diverse array of services, including higher and professional education, test preparation, language training, corporate and leadership training, and student recruitment, online enablement and other university support services. With operations in nearly 30 countries, Kaplan serves nearly 1.1 million students each year and has partnerships with 2,000-plus universities, colleges, and schools/school districts, and more than 4,000 businesses globally. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). For more information, please visit www.kaptest.com.  

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