My Target School Just Made Standardized Testing Optional – Is this my chance to apply?

Updated: Apr 12, 2021


Disruptions in standardized testing due to COVID during the recent Round 3 application cycle caused some schools like Columbia and Kellogg to waive standardized testing requirements, and MIT Sloan recently made standardized testing optional for this upcoming application year.


So, does that mean you should apply?

Before assessing the impact on you, first remember that the pool of applicants for top-20 MBA programs is exceptionally competitive each year. Columbia and Kellogg both noted significant increases in applications after they waived/deferred standardized testing requirements. We would expect the same for any other school that makes that decision. While there are school and COVID-related factors in those numbers, many applicants we talk to see a green light to apply if standardized testing requirements are relaxed.


The bottom line: relaxed testing requirements often leads to far more competition at top schools

Consider your candidacy as a whole. Typically, schools who relax standardized testing requirements won’t hold the lack of test scores against a candidate. That simply means they won’t think worse of you if you don’t submit a score. However, it doesn’t mean they will think better of you. If you’re applying with a 3.9 GPA from a top college, have a quantitative/analytical degree, and/or have a strong track record of performance at work in a quantitative/analytical field, then their impression of you may be strong enough to gain admission. However, if you have an average GPA, the lack of standardized testing may limit your differentiation from the majority of candidates each year who don’t get offered admission. Ditto for a lack of recent, easy-to-calibrate, work experience.

If considering whether to apply to a school with r